Friday, June 11, 2010
Reunited — and it feels pretttty pretttty OK
By Edward Copeland
Like Mae West, when Larry David is good, he's very good, but when he's bad, he's better, at least as far as his fictional alter ego goes on Curb Your Enthusiasm. The HBO series' heralded seventh season with its much publicized "Seinfeld reunion" reached DVD this week and while the season, as all of the comedy's seasons do, has its moments, it's really one of its most inconsistent efforts.
Granted, Curb had a hard act to follow after season six, which proved to be one of its most inspired efforts. So, before it can get into the Seinfeld reunion arc, the series feels compelled to resolve its beautiful resolution to season six in the first two episodes. While those episodes have their laughs, part of me had wondered since the end of season six (SPOILERS, BUT WHO DOESN'T KNOW BY NOW?) what laughs could be generated if Larry actually continued his relationship with the Vivica A. Fox character, but I should have known that wouldn't support 10 episodes.
Surprisingly, very few of the remaining eight episodes concentrate on Larry's decision to get the TV gang together again in an attempt to try to woo back ex-wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines), though it is funny how all the Seinfeld cast members keep repeating what a disappointment the series finale was, much to Larry's annoyance. Most are your run-of-the-mill, standalone Curb episodes, many of which are funny but none that live up to the series' all-time classics.
The weight falls even more forcefully on the regulars and the guest stars who shine such as the always reliable Ted Danson, Bob Einstein as Marty Funkhouser and JB Smoove, who the show wisely finds an excuse to keep around as Leon even when his relatives depart. The wonderfully profane Susie Essman doesn't even get a tirade that lives up to the great ones of her past.
Jerry Seinfeld gets many of the best moments, playing yin to Larry's yang by seeming to always being appalled by his actions in public. Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus both do well playing their real selves as jerks, though Michael Richards seems uncomfortable, perhaps still stinging from his real-life comedy club scandal which the show does have the guts to parody.
Hines may have her finest acting moment showing that Cheryl David's acting talent may not be that hot as she auditions with her plane crisis scene from season six in a very mediocre way compared to how she really pulled it off as it was "happening" for real.
David continues to do what he does best with his list of rules that he thinks everyone should follow and his ignorance of the ones he thinks are beneath him. Part of the fun of the series is how often things go wrong when he means well and how many times, deep down, you agree with him about something when he's taking abuse for it.
While I still love Curb, the formula has become so pat, that each episode's punchline now is almost a given. Season eight reportedly will take place mostly in New York and perhaps the change in setting will shake things up, but it's the underlying formula that really needs to be spun in new directions. (Though part of me already envisions a Woody Allen appearance to pay Larry back for starring in Whatever Works last year.)
The DVD extras don't offer much, though it is interesting watching how they reconstructed the Seinfeld sets which had been in storage.