TV Review: Larry David Returns With More ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

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CHICAGO – Larry David returns tonight with another batch of misanthropic mayhem that he calls the eighth season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” According to an HBO publicist, David himself picked three episodes to send critics, although none of them were tonight’s season premiere or even next week’s episode. The “season sampler” that HBO sent definitely gives us a solid flavor of what’s to come this year and it’s more of the same. In other words, it’s pretty great. TV Rating: 4.5/5.0
TV Rating: 4.5/5.0

How does David follow-up arguably the best season yet of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”? Does he try to “top” the Emmy-nominated masterpiece that turned his program into a “Seinfeld” reunion? Of course not. This season feels mostly like more of the same old-fashioned Larry behavior although with a slightly darker edge by losing Cheryl Hines, the wife that often softened Larry’s more antisocial qualities. Now Larry is free to sleep with a Palestinian woman who shouts anti-Semitic epithets at him during the best sex of his life and even move to New York just to avoid a charity event.

The “plot” of this ten-episode season of “Curb” sees Larry going through a divorce while also managing the typical awkwardness of his life before a sudden move to New York City. Of course, Jeff Garlin and Susie Essman return along with typical guest stars like Richard Lewis, Bob Einstein, Larry Miller, and Michael McKean. Other guest stars this season include Rosie O’Donnell, J.B. Smoove, Wanda Sykes, Gary Cole, Michael J. Fox, Ricky Gervais, and Mookie Wilson. Yes, Mookie Wilson.

Curb Your Enthusiasm
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Photo credit: HBO

Honestly, it’s harder to review “Curb Your Enthusiasm” than an average program. It’s not a show that many people are going to be completely unfamiliar with this far into its run. Most of you who have HBO know by now if you like “Curb.” So, the big question is simple — has it lost anything? Is there reason to worry? Not at all. “Palestinian Chicken,” the first episode sent for review, is spectacular, weaving a golf tournament, a woman who says “LOL” instead of laughing, and the aforementioned anti-Semitic sex into one brilliant web of unpredictable humor.

To be fair, I do think that last season was probably the peak of “Curb.” Even the non-“Seinfeld” episodes had a different energy and the season built beautifully to those final moments. It was a great piece of work, arguably the only comedy that should have beaten “Modern Family” last year for the Emmy. I’m not sure this season of “Curb” will be THAT strong, but falling just short of one of the best comedy seasons of the last decade is nothing to complain about. This is still great stuff, as strong as nearly any comedy on TV this summer (perhaps only “Louie” beats it).

We’re never sure when Larry David is going to call it quits. He takes longer than average between seasons and it feels often like every one could be his last. Let’s hope the end of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is at least a few years off. Not only has the program barely lost a step since it premiered but the TV landscape needs someone like Larry David. He probably wouldn’t want to hear it, but it’s nice to have him back.

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” stars Larry David, Jeff Garlin, and Susie Essman. It returns with its eighth season premiere on HBO on Sunday, July 10th, 2011 at 9pm CST. content director Brian Tallerico

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