Jewish Journal

Curb Your Enthusiasm Review: October 4th 2009

by  Eddy Friedfeld

October 5, 2009 | 1:19 am

Eddy Friedfeld and Larry David

“You know those reunion shows never work…,” Larry David tells manager Jeff Garlin.

“You criticized and downgraded people for doing reunions,” Jerry Seinfeld tells his former producing partner.

And yet…

Larry has hatched perhaps his most daring plot of all- using the much requested and much refused Seinfeld reunion as a ploy to get ex-wife Cheryl back:  Cast her as George’s ex-wife and use the time spent together to court her.

Will it backfire?  Of course it will.  It wouldn’t be a Larry David scheme if it didn’t.

It’s fun to see them together- especially older.  To see Jason Alexander eating lunch (and arguing over the tip) with his doppelganger/alter ego-is like looking into a fun house mirror.  The older Alexander is now way too good for his character’s creator, he is rich and respectable and iconic, ironically for personifying Larry’s foibles and character flaws.  Watching Larry cringe as Jason unwittingly described George’s flaws which were Larry’s:  “He’s a jerky, schmulky little character…”

“Well he’s not little,” is all Larry is able to come up with.

Larry David systematically and effectively manages to alienate all of his former colleagues and the head of NBC.  And will hate himself more than normal for apologizing

Last Friday night, with David sitting in his guest chair, David Letterman marveled at the prospect of the reunion of the Seinfeld cast.  “How did you employ the logistics of accomplishing that?

“I begged.”

David also tweaked both Letterman and himself by saying that he had “broken the record for the least amount of sex for a person with his own television show,” which set the table nicely for the show within a show.

The challenge of a reunion like this is to balance expectations with novelty.  The old gang hasn’t been together in over a decade, and they can’t let us smell the mothballs. This Fab Four was almost as famous as the original and the best comedy quartet since Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel.

Television audiences had never seen anything like this before and it hooked me and millions of others forever.  The series created a subculture, introducing phrases into popular culture ranging from “sponge-worthy,” to “yadda yadda yadda,” to the often quoted “not that there’s anything wrong with that.”  “The Restaurant” episode has been compared to “Waiting for Godot.” “The Contest” broke television ground:  An episode about a taboo subject without ever mentioning the operative word:

“Are you master of your domain?”
“I’m king of the castle!”

Even on a subsequent episode, when George went on a job interview, when asked if he had self-control, he responded “I won a contest.”

Michael Richards looks a little bewildered (and seem to forgot the entire conversation he had with Larry about a reunion show)-  and looks too fragile for one of his trademark slides or limber pratfalls.  One of Elaines signature “Get out!” pushes may land him in the hospital.

Jerry makes it seem like their relationship was solidly based on both mutual affection and a healthy mistrust.

And with this episode closing with Meg Ryan agreeing to play George’s ex-wife, Larry is thwarted, at least for the short-term.

I think he should continue dating and in true Seinfeldian tradition, characters should return: Lucy Lawless could get Warrior Princess on poor Larry, Gina Gershon as the Orthodox dry cleaner, coupled with returning Seinfeld characters as a string of ill-fated dates and micro-relationships:  Low talking, man-handed women, masseuses who won’t massage, maids who won’t clean, and perhaps a virgin thrown in for good measure.

The most Desperate of Housewives Teri Hatcher (who played Sidra of questionable authentic-breastedness (yes, I know it’s not a real word)) could guest as herself and taunt Larry over dinner: “They’re still real and they’re still spectacular!”

Larry could get say something wrong (shocking) and get sued and we could see Greg Morris return as the Johnny Cochrane-esque Jackie Chiles, quicker than you say “Hello Neeewman!”

Or maybe even- another contest- this time including Larry.

Eddy Friedfeld is a film and entertainment journalist and the co-author of “Caesar’s Hours” with Sid Caesar and teaches the history of comedy in America at Yale and NYU.

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