Sunday, August 29, 2010

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 7

David Mandel, Larry Charles, Robert Weide, 2009 (9.0*)

Excellent season of Curb is their best ever. Not wild about the early seasons, in fact, I quit watching them as the non-stop self-degradation of creator-writer Larry David, who did the same for the Seinfeld series (the character of George was based on Larry himself), became a little predictable, tiresome, and unrewarding. Larry plays 'himself' and is perhaps too little talented a comedic actor to pull it off regularly. He seems to generally lack energy or commitment; he only has a self-centered arrogance delivered in the style of a permanent curmedgeon. Not even his younger (and hotter) wife seemed to make him happy.

However, this time Larry took a year off and wrote 10 brilliant episodes, which revolve around the fact that his wife, Cheryl Hines, has left him (small wonder! she's a gorgeous and younger blond), and he envisions putting together a Seinfeld reunion so he can write in a part for her and win her back by spending time with her on the set.

The series begins where season 6 left off, with a family of African-Americans still living at Larry's house, who were displace victims of hurricana Katrina in New Orleans. Ironically, it was his wife Cheryl who brought them there to begin with, now Larry is involved with the single mother. In fact, Leon steals several scenes he has with Larry, especially when heavily laying on the slang, even using Mitvah as a verb: "I totally Mitvahed his ass", when he impersonates a sick Jewish friend of Larry's to fool Michael Richards (Kramer).

Some of these episodes are the funniest in the entire series: Larry gets into a physical knock-down fight with Rosie O'Donnell in public at a restaurant; at Larry's golf club, he is attacked by the club's symbol, a large black male swan; he dates two women in wheelchairs to appear unprejudiced. The major bonus: we see the entire Seinfeld cast, including 'Newman', playing their actor selves going through a script read and rehearsals; we also see the 'reunion' episode being put together, but as a Curb story, not as a real reunion show. We even get to see Larry doing Jason Alexander (who's hitting on his ex) doing George, who is doing Larry! Is that complex enough Jungian comedy for you?

The actors, in interviews on the 2nd dvd, said this was the only way this could occur, as part of the Curb series, and they only did it because of the way Larry put it together, as a story within a fictional series, but one based on real lives. By the way, much of the original Seinfeld set was pulled out of the archives of the Warner-Brothers tv 'museum', and restored but also updated a little, as if ten years later Jerry is in the same apartment.

This season has some excellent guest stars: Rosie, Christian Slater, Meg Ryan, Elizabeth Shue, and others, along with the continuing stars Richard Lewis, Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen playing themselves as Larry's Hollywood friends.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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