Seinfeld: "Explain to me again: Why isn't this lame?"
Larry: "We'll find a way to do it that won't be lame."
We've reached the first episode in the Seinfeld reunion story arc on this season of Curb, and it is truly an exceedingly un-lame way to do a reunion. When the Seinfeld reunion was first announced, there were a fair amount of doubters in the entertainment-o-sphere. Although, honestly, I never understood those doubts. Sure, reunion shows are often incredibly lame. They can often have, as Jerry put it in tonight's episode, a "pathetic, desperate" air. They can be, as Julia Louis-Dreyfus said, "tacky." And, as Larry put it before he was swayed by Cheryl's affectionate, manipulative pecks of encouragement, reunion shows "never work. The actors are 10 years older...it never looks right."
All of those anti-reunion-show caveats are true—just witness the pathetic, desperate, tacky, unsettling, not-quite-right spectacle that was the Sex & The City movie, which was basically a 90-minute reunion show. And Cheryl's pro-reunion-show argument—"People love reunion shows! They love to see what everyone's doing now, how they look!"—is also true, which is another reason why the idea of a Seinfeld reunion might be upsetting to Seinfeld fans. Seinfeld never was the fun, Don't-you-want-to-hang-out-with-these-people? show, or the fun, don't-you-care-what-happens-to-these-characters? show. Instead, it was the funny show. The pure comedy show. Which is why having a reunion show that would amount to little more than a fun cast get-together for the fans to watch would be incredibly lame. As Jerry reminded Larry, "You're not a get-together guy. You hate to get together." Seinfeld fans would feel the same way.
But a season-long story arc on Curb Your Enthusiasm about trying to put together a Seinfeld reunion? There couldn't be a more perfect reunion for Seinfeld. After all, Seinfeld was, at least in part, a show about making a TV show. Why not have a reunion that's about making a reunion show? It's an anti-reunion for the show about nothing. That is the opposite of lame: It's brilliant.
Of course, the reunion show that Larry is planning on Curb doesn't sound nearly as brilliant as the meta-reunion we're witnessing. Larry's Seinfeld reunion is a collection of stories recycled from his own life—Elaine cuts the hair off of a doll and the kid gets mad cause it won't grow back; Kramer hires a hooker to go through the carpool lane; George wants to get back together with his ex-wife—all hastily pitched so Larry can give Cheryl the part of George's ex-wife and (fingers crossed) win her back. Larry is clearly doing the reunion for the wrong reason—Cheryl, who has been spending her time "doing Pilates, learning Japanese, oh, and getting into the Lakers." Anybody else want Cheryl's life?—but it's really funny to watch.
Before Larry starts jerry-rigging his reunion, he diagnoses Susie's Lyme Disease ("Have you been in any tall grass lately?" is my new opener), runs into Cheryl in the lobby of NBC, and, spurred by her aforementioned affectionate, manipulative peck on the lips, immediately begins fantasizing about a Seinfeld reunion where everyone thinks he's brilliant, where that new line about "the kumquat and the quail" is amazing, and where Cheryl swoons over her ex-husband, the take-charge creator of this incredible show. Later on, after Larry tells the head of NBC to fuck off outside the Lakers game (which is a totally reasonable response to being thrown over for David Spade, in my opinion), we see the reality of Larry's happy reunion fantasy when the whole Seinfeld cast convenes in Jerry's office: Jerry calls out Larry for his unacceptable handling of the NBC exec; Julia calls out Larry for his unacceptable "grilling" of her daughter over her "I have to take my kid to a birthday party excuse;" and Jason Alexander calls out Larry for the unacceptable way Larry grilled the waiter to find out how much Jason tipped during their lunch. Then Kramer--excuse me, Michael Richards, who was too distracted by the naked photos at the restaurant to listen to Larry, slides in and has no idea that there is a reunion. Not quite the Larry-love-fest Larry imagined.
And so, after Jeff reminds Larry of why he's doing this whole reunion in the first place, Cheryl, Larry heads to NBC to make an apology that he thinks is "somewhere between begrudging and sincere" to Goodman. Turns out the apology was way begrudging, and so and achey, sick Goodman effectively cancels the Seinfeld reunion. Any TV executive that would pass on a fucking Seinfeld reunion has obviously been in tall grass lately and the Lyme disease has gone directly to their brain. Dr. David knows Goodman's diagnosis, but in dueling fantasy sequences Larry debates telling him: on the one hand, there's Cheryl on the perfect Seinfeld reunion telling Larry she wants to get back together and go "make love" (eww); on the other hand, there's Larry looking at Goodman in his casket and smiling with the pure satisfaction of being right/revenge. Tellingly, these two scenarios are equal in Larry's eyes, and so he solves his dilemma No-Country-For-Old-Men-style, by flipping a coin. In the end, Goodman lives, the reunion is on, but, whoops, Jerry ran into Meg Ryan and told her she could play George's ex-wife. Hmm. Maybe Larry could suggest she go take a walk in some tall grass?
--How did Jason Alexander find out about Larry's tip coordination investigation? Is Goodman the worst TV executive in the history of the medium? Let's not worry too much about these questions and instead focus on the general overall awesomeness of tonight's proceedings.
--"He's apoplectic. Apoplectic, Larry!" "The whole reunion is ruined because Larry David doesn't wanna sit in the loge!" Jerry Seinfeld was hilarious in this episode. Anyone else picture George and Jerry having the Robert Wagner/Natalie Wood exchange?
--Speaking of George, seeing Larry sitting across from (essentially) his fictional counterpart was great. "He's so unappealing. He's a jerky, schmucky, little guy." "He's funny! Everything you just said is funny."
--Jason Alexander's reaction to the reunion: "Well, it'll make up for the finale." Zing!
--"I hate myself more than normal." Larry's misery is just like your misery, but funnier.