'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Season 9: TV Review
After six years away, one of TV's greatest comedies returns on HBO.
After six years without the show, HBO wasn't being coy about what had changed on Curb Your Enthusiasm.
And that's great news, as HBO's wink that Larry David was still Larry David rang ultra true in the ninth-season premiere Sunday night (which wasn't sent to critics because, well, at this point pretty much you're on board or you're not, and it's not like HBO needs to sell Curb to the uninitiated).
When we last saw Larry — and yes, it's still astonishing to think it was six years ago — he had done a very Larry thing, as he's wont to do, and headed to Paris to avoid a charity obligation with Michael J. Fox. If there's one thing Larry likes less than dealing with other people, it's being inconvenienced in even the slightest manner. One of the great ongoing joys of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and perhaps the X-factor in its enduring success, is that Larry is mainstream awful — he is the most awful part of us, the people at least pretending to follow the rules of society. It's not like he's a Trump voter or, worse, Trump himself, but Larry doesn't do anything he doesn't want to and has a particular aversion to suffering fools. The meta extrapolation in Curb of the real-life Larry David is that he gets to be as politically incorrect as he wants to be, provided he suffers the consequences, which are usually swift, punitive and hilarious.
On Sunday, it started with one of his patented explorations of the little things in life that annoy people — in this instance, trying to unspin a pump handle on a bottle of shampoo, which then doesn't even work — pivots briefly to Larry not holding the door for a lesbian and ultimately messing up her marriage, veers into how Jimmy Kimmel "foisted" (the episode's title) a gimpy and constipated assistant (Carrie Brownstein) on Larry, and how he must "foist" her on someone else, and then ends, obviously, with a fatwa on his life.
Which, if you think about it, is perfectly in the Curb wheelhouse of what could and maybe should happen to Larry.
The show didn't waste much time on what Larry has been doing in the intervening years, the whole Paris thing or stuff from seasons past, but instead presented the main story idea that after five years, Larry has finished writing a musical comedy — Fatwa! The Musical — about Salman Rushdie and the Ayatollah. He then goes on Kimmel and makes a bunch of jokes about the Ayatollah, does an impression of him and gets in a world of trouble.
That's pretty much going to be season nine, and it should be, as expected, pretty, pretty good. At this point, of course, even the bits that don't work as seamlessly as you might want (not a new issue) pale in comparison to the joy that comes from watching Larry try to wriggle out of an endless amount of sticky situations.
Executive producer, director and longtime cohort Jeff Schaffer has intimated that this season, because of the six-year delay, is absolutely bursting with ideas and scenarios that David has stored up for use. And this premiere clocked in at 40 minutes (which might be a recurring situation that nobody will likely complain about except those on Twitter who seem to do this for sport).
A fatwa on Larry's life is already funny just sitting on the page, so whatever comes up in the following nine episodes should be glorious for fans who have missed little gems like Leon (JB Smoove) explaining to Larry the difference between "lampin'" and "chillin'" and Larry bemusedly wondering if fist-bumps were still a thing. Other sorely missed elements of Curb include things you will laugh at after watching an episode ("Type plus distance equals no door hold"), Jeff (Jeff Garlin) yelling and Susie (Susie Essman) swearing, Larry and Richard Lewis being annoyed by each other, etc. In this episode, we even got the return of Cheryl (Cheryl Hines), who is fronting a new charity called PAM — People Against Mutilation — to which Larry of course tells her that's a stupid name. "That's the best you could do? It's a cooking spray."
Ted Danson also stopped in and got to mutter, "Strangest man on the planet," about Larry, which might be true. But then again, he also is one of the funniest.
Here's to Curb returning and, because it only seems fitting, here's to the fatwa.