It's been two years since Larry David playing "Larry David" shuffled across our TV screens, his shoulders permanently slumped from carrying the heavy mantle of the world's collective crankitude. Two years has become the standard wait time between seasons of Curb, which is usually a long time for any television series to go dark. But Curb Your Enthusiasm isn't just any television series—because each season is a breezy 10 episodes, following a season-long arc with a beginning, middle, and end, there are no filler episodes; There's no slump in the humor, or the sense that "This show used to be better;" And there is never the sense that Curb, as with so many long-running sitcoms, has run its course or over-stayed its welcome. To put it in Cheryl's parlance, with Curb Your Enthusiasm, there is never "too much Larry." Maybe it's because of that lengthy two-year-long period of anticipation, as well as the tight, concise 10-episode season, that Curb Your Enthusiasm always delivers just the right amount of Larry to leave you wanting more.
It's appropriate that Larry David would create a series that never feels as if it's over-staying its welcome. After all, that's the polite thing to do, a social convention that is expected to be followed, and the cornerstone of Curb Your Enthusiasm's humor is how Larry and everyone around him deal with social conventions. Mostly, they deal with them badly. Take, for example, Susie's refusal to tell Larry who was invited to the dinner party. "It's just not done," she admonished him, leading to not only a shouting match, but an incredibly awkward dinner party that involved Funkhouser inviting himself and his crazy sister Bam-Bam (Catherine O'Hara) along, Larry having to interact with his new enemy, Dr. Schaffer, and a dinner that quickly devolved into a table of yells.
Then there's the social convention of the empty gesture. Larry tells Funkhouser that "if there's anything I can do" for his sister, to please let him know. Larry says it because it's the polite thing to say, and Funkhouser, if he were polite, would have just replied with a simple, "Thank you." Instead, Funkhouser takes Larry up on the non-offer, leading to an awkward visit with crazypants Bam-Bam; Larry raiding Funkhouser's fridge beyond the Funkhouser-acceptable "liquid" items; and Jeff (aka Fat Boy) having sex with Bam-Bam because she took him up on his "if there's anything I can do" non-offer. It's true: You can't make an empty gesture to a Funkhouser.
But the biggest breach of social convention in this episode is yet to come: Will Larry dump Loretta even though she has cancer? Poor Larry tried to rush home and beat the cancer diagnosis/break-up cut off, but he was side tracked by Bam-Bam and burglers, and now it seems that he's stuck in a hot house with a cancer-patient girlfriend he doesn't really like anymore. How long will Larry stick it out just out of politeness? Well, considering it's Larry David, probably not too long. Still, watching Larry's face as Dr. Schaffer listed the many, many burdens Larry was expected to shoulder now that Loretta has cancer was one of the funniest Curb moments ever. That last scene—hell, the whole episode in general—was well worth the wait.
--"82 degrees. That's my shit. That's my region up in there." Leon is back! Also, kudos to Curb for finding a hilarious "white people do something like this, but black people do it like this." Bedroom temperature is a heretofore unexplored difference between white people and black people.
--I am very interested in Larry's views about goldfish ownership, and would like to subscribe to his newsletter.
--Jeff Garlin is officially "Fat Boy" from here on out.
--I'm not the biggest Cheryl fan, but I have high hopes for the comedic possibilites of the "Larry tries to get Cheryl back" plotline—and not just because it includes a Seinfeld reunion (though that does help.) And it is nice to see Larry and Cheryl's first warm, tentative flirtations. That scene where they were sitting outside of the restaurant was just, no other word for it, sweet.
--"Apricot. It's over.....Can I tell you something about apricots? One in 30 is a good one. Such a low-percentage fruit."
--"You want this?! You want this little pear?" "Don't condescend to me with your tiny pear!" More fruit jokes, please!
--Bam-Bam = best name for a mentally ill character ever.