Sunday, September 09, 2007

"I'm gonna dress like a little Dutch girl.": Curb Your Enthusiasm

I suppose I should preface this by saying that Curb Your Enthusiasm is a show I've always found enjoyable, but it's never numbered among my favorites. For all of the talk about how the show is innovative and how the improvisational nature of it keeps things fresh, it's actually pretty formulaic. This means that the show is very comfortable, like slipping into a comfortable pair of pajama pants, but when it's off, it can be painful to watch. It also doesn't make me terribly excited to check it out from week to week, though I guess covering the show will change all of that.

Anyway, season six gets off to a funny start with an episode that builds and builds to some good stuff, though the funniest scene in the entire episode comes in the middle when Larry and Cheryl get trapped at the Funkhousers (and are forced to contemplate playing Pick-Up Sticks of all things). The rest of the episode is filled with the sorts of awkward situations Larry David plays so well.

The smoke detector bit in the opening was all right, but it mostly seemed to serve an unfortunate tendency of the show -- when it goes for something that might be universal in Hollywood but just isn't for the rest of us. How many of us have so many rooms that we can't tell which smoke detector is going off? And Larry's beating of the malfunctioning machine with a baseball bat similarly seemed like it had been done somewhere before.

From there, though, the episode set up the rest of the storyline of Larry trying to show up for parties he didn't want to go to a day late, claiming he thought the party was that day instead. It's a clever idea, and the way every stop he makes turns into a singularly bad party (and then snowballs outward to affect other events) was also funny. It's a strength of the formula that we'll buy that Larry will do dumb things like this and still find his friends seizing on to his ideas (both Jeff and Richard try the gambit later, to Larry's detriment).

The rest of the episode focused on Cheryl wanting to take in a family stranded by a huge hurricane (which managed to let Larry get in a swipe at global warming, weirdly). I'm not sure where this is going, but it wasn't the best plot point here, even if Vivica A. Fox makes a good foil for Larry (and even if it paid off the smoke detector gag fairly well). I'm willing to see where this goes, especially if Fox is further involved.

I don't know that I can blog this show every week, but this is a promising start to season six, especially after a fifth season when it felt like the show didn't have a lot left to say.

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