My first newspaper review ran in today’s Targum, and other than the removal of two short paragraphs for size constraints, it ran unedited. This is important because The Daily Targum has a terrible webpage, so I can’t link to it here. Thankfully I can just paste my copy here and it will be like you’re reading the real thing!

“Curb” Returns From The Dead

By Tom Wright-Piersanti
inside beat Staff Writer

Two years ago, Larry David, creator and star of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” killed off his own character. At the time, there was a strong chance that he’d also killed off his own show. But Larry – the character, that is – was revived a few minutes after his passing, and thankfully HBO gave the same treatment to the acclaimed half-hour comedy not too long after that.

“Curb,” which airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on HBO, has been a brilliant piece of television for the better part of five seasons. David, the co-creator of “Seinfeld,” recently told reporters that he’s happy with the sixth season, which started September 9th. This means a bit more coming from him, a perennial pessimist and an extreme neurotic. If he’s admitting that he’s happy about it, something special must be going on.

Season five, which aired almost a full two years ago, was a letdown. The story lines felt contrived, the acting lacked excitement, and the marvelous train wreck that is the character of Larry came off as tired and bored in all but a few episodes.

The season ended on a bang, however, when David decided to kill the main character – himself. In the episode, titled “The End,” Larry goes to heaven and is led around by angel guides played by Sacha Baron Cohen, a.k.a. Borat, and Dustin Hoffman. Heaven is a marvelous place, but Larry can’t go a few minutes without getting himself into an argument with Hoffman and, ultimately, is kicked out until he’s ready to be there.

At the time, David claimed that the death marked the end of the series, but critics were skeptical. David announces during each season that it is the last one, he told reporters, because it’s the only way he can convince himself to go through with making it. Not to mention, after a lackluster season, HBO execs questioned whether it should get another go-around.

Thankfully David was given another chance by the cable giant, and after a bit of thinking, he said, he decided that he wanted to do it again. Twenty-one months later, “Curb” has finally come back in its usual time slot with its usual cast and a newfound energy.

The show’s season 6 premiere, “Meet the Blacks,” does not disappoint. Larry and his wife Cheryl adopt a family displaced by Katrina-like Hurricane Edna. The Blacks, an African American family, quickly get a taste of Larry when–predictably–he obsesses over the correlation between surname and race, explaining, “It’s like if my name was Larry Jew!”

In “Meet the Blacks,” the B-story stands out, as is often the case. Larry’s idea of skipping parties he doesn’t want to attend and showing up at their door a day later is exactly the kind of thing you’d expect from him, and it is played out to perfection by his wonderfully realistic cast.

A staple of the program has always been the dialogue, which reads more naturally than any other comedy on TV because the actors are simply given a scene outline and allowed to improvise everything else. David works hard to find the best actors he can for the roles, and even bit parts often stand out because of the strength of the improvisation.

In the premiere episode, the acting is especially good. The usual cast is back, with Bob Einstein playing the dead-pan, forceful Marty Funkhouser, Jeff Garlin and Susie Essman playing the quarelling, obscene husband and wife team Jeff and Susie Greene, and comedian Richard Lewis as himself.

The new season is packed with classic Larry goodness, and it shows in the strength of the first episode. Larry is honest and raw and funny, but he finds a way to appeal on a much more human level, where his failings become excusable, no matter how awful they are. The character has heart, and wants to be a good person, and that is apparent more than ever this season, and it makes for a much more compelling watch.

Season six will feature guest stars Vivica A. Fox as the mother of the Black family, ex-Xena portrayer Lucy Lawless, and tennis great John McEnroe, which, we can only hope, will lead to an argument of epic proportions by two of the best in the business.

David is so excited about this new season that he hasn’t yet announced that it will be the last. He’s only giving season seven a “50-50” chance, he says, but for someone as insecure and negative as him, that’s a pretty safe bet to take.

Advertisements