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