Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: "The Freak Book"

Illustration for article titled Curb Your Enthusiasm: "The Freak Book"

This episode marks the halfway point for this season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and a pattern is beginning to emerge: Following the season premiere, every other episode (namely episodes 3 and 5) has centered around death, while the remaining episodes (episodes 2 and 4) centered around bodily functions ("The Anonymous Donor" was about ejaculation, and "The Lefty Call" was about urination, defecation, and the monitoring of said urination and defecation). So the rhythm for this season goes something like Premiere, Gross-out, Death, Gross-out, Death. I don't know why this pattern exists or if it'll hold for the remaining 5 episodes, but I like it. (Unless of course next week's Gross-out episode is about Jeff's toe jam or something, in which case, I might have to reconsider.)
The first of the death-isodes (sorry) was "The Ida Funkhouser Roadside Memorial," a show built on Funkhouser's mother's death–from the place it happened, to the vulture-like relatives at her funeral, to the various shrines to her that Larry could steal from. I wasn't a big fan of this episode-not because of the heavy death theme throughout, but because Larry's actions were unprevoked, knowingly assholish, and not that funny.
Then last night we got the second death-isode of the season, "The Freak Book," a show complete with two crazy, loud, grieving families. It was also an episode bookended by discussions of burial plots, and threaded with discussions of the various swaps that needed to take place in order for Larry to be happy with his resting place for all eternity–something that could only happen if Larry could make Ted Danson unhappy with Danson's resting place for all eternity.
I'm happy to report that I liked this death-isode much, much better–from Larry giving Ted a book about freaks that everyone can't stop laughing at, to Larry/Charlie peppering John MacEnroe with inane questions in the limo, to MacEnroe throwing the annoying grieving family out on the street, to the Larry David-John MacEnroe shout off at the end–everything fell perfectly into place. And there were very few of the typical Curb contrivances, like the sonic boom toilet from last week's episode. Larry was well-intentioned, jerky when prevoked by jerks (like Ted Danson), slightly vindictive and funny–just the way he's supposed to be.
Grade: A-
Stray Observations:
—Is there a better Ted Danson insult than, "Happy Birthday, Becker!"?
—Who's dying first: Ted, Mary, Cheryl, Larry, Susie, or Jeff? Even though I'd love it to be Cheryl, I'm betting on Mary or Ted. Mary's comment about their teriffic health has to come back somehow.
—Favorites from Larry/Charlie's inane questions: Do you have allergies? Do you garden?