December 05, 2005

Jumping the Curb?

"Curb Your Enthusiasm"'s fifth season ended last night with a weak coda to a weak year, one more than a little reminiscent of Larry David's previous career low-point, the final episode of "Seinfeld." The episode, like the entire season, was full of good ideas that were either carried way beyond their natural punchline, or simply failed to pay off at all.

In truth, "Curb"'s brand of comedy has always walked a tight rope- with a misanthropic lead character and a series of trademark "uncomfortable situations," the comedy will always either hit a home run or strike out, and it's clear that uncomfortable situations minus laughs equals death, as proven by the abominable Lisa Kudrow reality show/sitcom "The Comeback." See also the difference between the British version of "The Office" (home run) and the American (strike out).

"Curb"'s season contained a few germs of good ideas- the best of those being the Rosh Hashanah ticket scalper, the one with the racist dog/Larry losing the support of LA's lesbian community, and the brilliant "Passion of the Christ" parody that ended with Larry and Jeff chased by a cross-wielding Puerto Rican electrician named "Jesus," who then stepped on a nail and started screaming in Aramaic. The one with Larry having to navigate a drive-through window on foot was pretty smart too. But too often in Season 5, good ideas that should have been confined to one episode were expanded to two or three, and continued to be mined long after they'd exhausted their comedic value.

For instance- the Richard Lewis kidney-donation subplot should have ended the episode it started, when his cousin Louis Lewis went in the coma. There's nothing inherently funny about kidney disease, of course, and even worse, Larry's selfishness in refusing to donate his kidney never provoked any single funny moment in the four episodes afterward.

Ditto the season's other major plot, Larry's quest to find out whether or not he was adopted. Nevermind that neither of the guest stars associated with this -Shelley Berman as Larry's father and Mekhi Phifer as his investigator- was given anything funny or entertaining to do whatsoever. Nevermind also that the entire bit was ripped off from the much funnier Ben Stiller movie "Flirting With Disaster." The plotline just plain didn't work at any point. And while the idea of Larry discovering who he thought were his birth parents- and in the process, that he's actually a gentile- had a germ of comedy to it as well, it was executed so poorly as to keep from being memorable.

Other bits over the course of the season that looked promising but failed to deliver- Larry and Susie pretending to be husband and wife; the sex offender (Rob Corddry) showing up at Seder (which was a lot more creepy than it was funny); and, in the last episode, Larry arriving in heaven, to be "guided" by Dustin Hoffman and Sacha Baron Cohen. If you're bringing in talent like those two, shouldn't you, you know, give them something funny to do? (Though I did like Bea Arthur as Larry's mom). Then the end of the episode returned to a 7-week-old punchline- Larry fighting with someone over a handicapped bathroom stall- that was never particularly funny in the first place. Perhaps all of this is a function of the show's improvised structure, as there will be times when the actors simply come up with nothing.

Also weird- the seasonal timeline of the shows. The season premiere was set at Rosh Hashanah time (September), then just a few weeks later it's Passover (March/April), and a couple weeks after that, it's the NBA season (starting in November). We're supposed to think Richard Lewis was waiting for Larry's decision on the kidney transplant for as long as a year? Wouldn't he have found another donor, or gone into kidney failure during that time?

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" has been a very funny show before, and it has enough talented people surrounding it to be so again. It pains me to say all this about a show that's given me a lot of entertainment over the years. But I'd advise the creators, before they go into production for their next season, to come up with enough good ideas and to have the means and werewithall to carry them out.

Posted by Stephen Silver at December 5, 2005 04:12 PM

was that the season finale or the series finale? It seemed that way to me ...
In any case last season was much, much stronger, and the season finale was the high point. Though more quotable was the Season 3 finale: "Fuck you, you carwash cunt!"

Posted by: LilB at December 5, 2005 04:42 PM

Excellent review (guess that's why you are the pro and I struggle to articulate what I did not like about the season in general and the finale in particular).

If I had to sum it up, it was over the top Costanza.

I disagree with a few things. There were some very funny moments related to the kidney subplot.

The eenie meenie game where Suzie called Jeff a fat fuck was funny.

I like the ski-lodge bit with Larry pretending to speak yiddish.

I thought the doctor calling Larry on his vigil of Lewis Lewis was funny. And of course the giant V was great.

Definitely the weakest season as was Seinfeld's final season. It became Larry David trying to imitate Larry David. Just like Costanza used to do.

In short, there were some good episodes and most episodes had their moments, but it was not by any stretch up to par with the previous four seasons.

Posted by: J. Lichty at December 6, 2005 06:03 PM @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@ @x@

Posted by: olo at December 21, 2005 03:30 AM

العاب العاب بنات العاب اكشن العاب طبخ العاب سيارات العاب اطفال العاب جديدة
العاب للبنات فقط العاب بنات رائعه مناسبه لجميع الاعمار
العاب باربي العاب العروسه باربي التي يحبها معضم البنات
العاب سيارات العاب سيارات جديدة و مميزه لمحبي السيارات و السرعة
العاب رياضية العاب رياضية منوعة كره قدم و كره سله و غيرها من الرياضات الجميلة
العاب اطفال العاب سهله و مفيده تناسب اطفالكم
العاب طبخ لعاب طبخ تجعلك تعيش جو المطبخ من خلال الشبكه الالكترونية
العاب اكشن العاب الاكشن والاثاره التي تحتاج للسرعه و الشجاعه
العاب ذكاء العاب الذكاء التي تنشط عقلك
العاب ديكور العاب ديكور تسمح لك بتحسين ذوقك في تنسيق ديكور المنازل و الغرف

Posted by: spot at September 14, 2009 07:33 AM
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