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'Curb Your Enthusiasm': Larry David, wood detective

Curb09_33

The season finale of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" brought us not just the "Seinfeld" reunion but also an ending and a new beginning for Larry David.

It's crazy to me that more than 10 years have passed since the end of "Seinfeld," but seeing Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Michael Richards and Julia Louis-Dreyfus reunite on that set brought back a flood of memories. In those brief scenes, it was suddenly as though no time had passed -- for the characters or for this viewer.

While the "Seinfeld" reunion provided the throughline for the season, this week's episode also drew in such varied topics as water marks on wood furniture, tinted car windows, tipping (always a Larry David hallmark), and the concept of favors.

It also had a lot to do with an irate coffee cart barista named Mocha Joe, whose irrational behavior spurred Larry to perform an unlikely favor (namely driving to Hollywood to pick up a coffee bean shipment). I didn't buy any of the Mocha Joe storyline. There's no way that this guy would speak this way to Larry David on the studio lot and keep his job, nor would he take umbrage that Larry didn't tip him after he was asked to perform a simple task and return some jumper cables to the production office ... where he was already going. There's often some unbelievable elements to "Curb," but I just couldn't accept that Mocha Joe would be able to get away with behaving that way. (Having worked in the television industry for many years, I can honestly say that he would probably have been fired before he returned to his cart.)

Having said that (heh heh), I thought that the season finale was absolutely hysterical and heartfelt while also remaining true to the fact that Larry David just can't let anything go, even when his dream is about to come true.

I've really missed Cheryl this season. While it was fun watching Larry attempt to navigate the treacherous waters of dating, there was something missing with Cheryl's overall absence, and I think the series works best when Larry has Cheryl to ground him. She pointed out, over the course of the series' first six seasons, the consequences of his actions, whether that be with a disapproving stare, a withering comment, or an outright censuring of his behavior. Plus, they were the most adorably mismatched couple on television.

I loved seeing Larry jealous of Cheryl's relationship with her co-star Jason Alexander ... and the lengths Larry went to to separate them, even going so far as to rewrite the "Seinfeld" reunion script so that their characters, Amanda and George, wouldn't reconcile at the end. Ridiculous? You bet. But that's Larry David for you. That he mistakenly believed that Jason's rocking car was an act of, er, afternoon passion (it actually contained his dogs, which was just odd and criminal, even with the tinting) and chased Jason out of Cheryl's dressing room proved just how jealous he had become. All because he was "busy with beans," driving to Hollywood as a "favor" for Mocha Joe instead of going over to Cheryl's house.

But the entire point of the "Seinfeld" reunion was, remember, a massive smokescreen for Larry's true goal: winning Cheryl back. But the thing that truly wins her over isn't this grand gesture but the simple, honest truth: he loves her, a fact he admitted after he quit the show over the rewritten script. Cheryl overheard that (thanks to her own tinted windows) and made an enormous sacrifice for Larry: She quit the "Seinfeld" reunion too.

The scene where Cheryl showed up at Larry's house the night of the "Seinfeld" broadcast was absolutely pitch perfect (I couldn't help but keep smiling throughout that whole sequence), especially as he was just a few seconds earlier so agog at the realization that Vanessa (Elisabeth Shue) was playing Amanda instead of Cheryl. Could it be that these two are perfect together, in spite of (or because of) their differences? Larry gently tweaks this via a nicely crafted metatheatrical moment in the "Seinfeld" reunion show-within-a-show, where George told Jerry that he and Amanda were back together again. Their tender moment leads to a kiss. So mission accomplished, right?

But as I said earlier, Larry just can't let anything go. He's still on the case of who left that water mark on Julia Louis-Dreyfus' antique table and after confronting Jerry, Susie, and just about everyone, he realizes -- just as he and Cheryl are kissing -- that his ex-wife is the culprit.

Rather than let that go, Larry has to ask her about it. He can't, after all, help himself. It's in his nature, and it's part of the reason why "Curb Your Enthusiasm" works so well, even after seven seasons. Larry has to say the words that the rest of us swallow in case we upset our fellow man.

And it's Cheryl who admitted to Jason what the others couldn't: that his slim-line book, "Acting Without Acting," was really a glorified pamphlet, a statement that leads to a huge row between the two. Wait, a truthful comment that cuts through the nonsense leads to a blowout on "Curb"? Perhaps Larry and Cheryl are the perfect match for each other after all.

What did you think of the season finale? How great was it to see the old "Seinfeld" gang back at Jerry's apartment and at Monk's? Are Larry and Cheryl back together again or did the wood detective foil his own plans? What are your overall thoughts about this season of "Curb"? Head to the comments section to discuss.

— Jace Lacob (follow my musings on television, food and more television on Twitter at @televisionary)

Related:
'Curb Your Enthusiasm': Never leaving the past (behind)
Larry David talks about putting 'Seinfeld' back together for 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
Complete 'Curb' coverage on Showtracker

Photo: Julia Louis-Dreyfus confronts Larry David about a mysterious water mark on "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Credit: Doug Hyun / HBO.

 
Comments () | Archives (27)

Great episode. Most amazing was how wonderful the reunion episode within the episode was. Most reunion shows are lame, but what we saw was just as funny as the originals, and seemed completely right and natural. I now wish they would do a full reunion show, or maybe a series of annual one-hour Seinfelds. It's clear they could pull them off and not diminish the quality of the series.

Have to somewhat disagree on Mocha Joe. You're right that in the real world there is no way he would act that way. And in the real world, a rich and famous guy like David would be treated with respect even when he is a jerk. But in the "Curb" world, guys like Mocha Joe -- waiters, clerks, secretaries, friends -- always feel free to treat Larry with complete disrespect and indeed chew him out on a regular basis. So in that world, Mocha Joe fits right in.

Lots of funny bits in this episode, and I think it works well as either a season finale or a series finale (though I hope not). I'm assuming Larry was watching an early edit of the finale at his home, as I don't see no one from the production contacting him about the change between taping and network airing.

You know, I adore Cheryl Hines as a performer, but I have never cared much for the Cheryl David character as Larry's wife...I never saw anything in common for them, and I always thought she was just a gold-digger, which was kind of confirmed in the season finale in which people though he died in the hospital.

Seeing Larry-as-George was hysterical, and Jerry's deadpan humor throughout this arc was a treat. If they come back for another season, I truly hope it doesn't take a couple of years. In the meantime, give Susie Essman, JB Smoove and Jeff Garlin a spin-off with Susie Greene as a writer for a premium cable talk show featuring Leon, with Jeff as the producer.

Loved this season, especially the little subtleties like Cheryl's tinted windows.
Overall...pretty pretty pretty pretty pretty good.

You said it all. Another GREAT finale of Curb. It just better not be over (and I say that after every finale since Season 4 ended).

The best part about Curb, and this finale, is that you can see everything coming. And it happens. And it is still hilarious. I knew the moment Cheryl walked into that door with that drink that Larry would be about to kiss her when he sees the lack of respect of wood Cheryl had. And it happened, and it couldn't have been any better. I no longer cringe at what LD does, I just enjoy it.

Of course we all agree about Mocha Joe... who the hell is he to tell anyone what to do? But remember, Larry never really has the balls to fire someone in this show, and we also know he hates when people think he is in the wrong... even when he KNOWS hs is right. So I wouldn't put it past him to go that far out of his way to please this scumbag. And I am happy he did, because it was amazingly entertaining.

I loved every second of this season. I'm really going to miss it.

This is my favorite show on television and I really enjoyed the finale episode of season 7. My favorite part was when Jerry and Larry were giving each other the suspicious stare-down and Jerry pops in an extra "boo" at the end of it. It was touching to see Cheryl and Larry re-unite at the end. I agree somewhat with your Mocha Joe comment, but you have to remember that this type of behavior is consistent with what Larry always has to deal with. Very well done overall.

I thought it was pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Well it wasn't that funny, but still it was a great season finale. Now the question is, is this THE Curb finale, or will there be a season 8?

The finale was terrible. The interaction with "Mocha Joe" monopolized the episode. And the Seinfeld reunion just wasn't well done. I don't care about any of those characters anymore, especially Dreyfus.

I wanted to see more of Leon/Loretta this season, but alas that was not the case. The most annoying part of the entire season was Larry's desperate attempts to get back with Cheryl. She is the weakest/most annoying character on the show. Let's hope this season is the final Curb season. Sad that it ended so pathetically. Last season's ending with Larry and Loretta together was priceless.

Enjoyed the whole season immensely. I hope the show continues with an 8th season....and beyond.

I really thought the Seinfeld arc was superb. They put a tremendous amount of thought into it, allowing the audience to see the mystery of the sets, how blocking can change, how lines can change, how even actors can change. The way in which we saw rehearsals of certain scenes, the final product of others, all superbly thought out and presented, even down to a new identifiable name-character,"Mocha-Joe" (like so many before him) and a play on a saying, "Having said that..."

It was even delightful to see David acting out what many people have suspected, that he's always secretly regretted never playing George on 'Seinfeld'. The storyline between him and Alexander was terrific. Dreyfuss and Richards also had memorable moments.

The chemistry between everyone is astonishing, such pros, I feel as though I could watch them forever. Jerry's "icon" speech was the standout for me yet everyone held their own and delivered in spades. Usually shows like this are disasters, never as good as you want them to be, this was every bit as good as I could have dreamt. Genuine and heartfelt. Props to all concerned. Well done and thankyou.

Outstanding season.

Also, what we saw was televison history, with the reunion show for an all-time classic sitcom being played out within another all-time classic show. Where will we ever see this type of thing again?

Not on par with last weeks episode (which for me stood out as the pinnacle of the season), but definitely a worthy finale.

In hindsight, I must say that the relative lack of Leon's presence this past season was one of the only disappointments. I had hoped for that character to be a tad bit more prominent than it was.

Questions is, where do you go from here? They MUST do an 8th season.

Another great year for Curb! I loved the last episode but thought Larry could have added a little twist at the end. Sometime
during the season. Larry should have asked
Ted Danson if he ever wanted to do a Cheer's reunion...Ted whould have said he 'never would' even though all the other castmates wanted to. After Larry re-unites with Cheryl ..Ted calls ..he is tied up in
his basement with the entire Cheer's cast
trying to get him to aggee to the reunion because Seinfeld's was so successful!
Might of been nice to see...and maybe a setup for next season.....


You find the Mocha Joe storyline unrealistic, but accept that Larry wouldn't have found out that another actress played Amanda in the finale until it was finished? And, Mr. TV professional, how much time passed between the filming and the episode being aired (factor in rehearsals with another actress)? Cheryl waited all that time before going to Larry, timing their reunion at the most dramatic moment possible?

None of this bothered me, there's a hyper-reality to Curb, much as there was on Seinfeld. (Remember when Kramer ate Junior Mints while watching surgery with no barrier between him and the operating table?) However, your inconsistency rattles me.

The reunion within a reunion with an episode within an episode was hilarious. Just what I needed to lift me out of the east coast looks like winter blues! The Seinfeld cast (even Michael Richards) was pitch perfect. Just enough sentimentality to be taken in and then knocked back off by Larry's uncomprimising morals... No ring on a table will go unnoticed. So glad Cheryl is back - didn't watch last season but was not thrilled not to see her initially this season. Great ending - leaves me wanting more! Although major networks should take notice - there actually was/is real chemistry between Jason Alexander and Cheryl Hines... I think next season - Larry should have to work harder to get her back maybe a brief romance with Jason to make Larry have to recant his wood accusations... I hope we keep seeing all of the seinfeld cast but I suppose that's too much to hope for?

omg The Wood Detective. Makes me laugh just thinking about it. Susie's response to Larry badgering her...funniest moment on TV in a long time.

For those of you who are wondering, Mocha Joe's is a real coffee bean roasting joint in Brattleboro, VT. Excellent beans, BTW.

Mocha Joe’s storyline fits in perfectly with Larry’s character. Narcissists are not concerned about others, but in their own image and how others perceive them. This dates back to Seinfeld, e.g. Elaine gets busted by a limo driver for pretending to be deaf to avoid inane chitchat. She tried to make it up to him not for his sake, but so he won’t think badly of her. Mocha Joe already complained to Jerry and would continue to spread the word to anyone ordering coffee that Larry’s a bad guy, so Larry will do anything to prevent this from happening.

 
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