Curb Your Enthusiasm: TV Review

Jessica Miglio/HBO
Larry David's still-painful social skills help prove that small-screen comedy is at its peak.

Larry David is in top form in the eighth season of the HBO comedy.

It takes no genius to surmise that the state of comedy on television is in robust health. But the eighth season of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm is like an enthusiastic exclamation point that hammers home the proof.

Now entering another wince-inducing season, Larry David proves again that he can mine gold over and over from the same idea. Although Curb has sometimes gone out of its way to create painful scenarios for Larry to get in and out of, season eight just seems content to let him wander through life without a muffler on his mouth, like the days of old. Of course, he's got a divorce on his hands, but if there's a unifying theme, it's that Larry is now embracing what he's always been -- "a social assassin."

In a couple of episodes, Larry is basically hired out by people more meek than he -- which is pretty much everyone -- to do their verbal dirty work. They want Larry to say what they can't. Unsurprisingly, he thinks this is the deal of a lifetime. It all starts innocently enough, then ratchets up. Someone's wife is saying something insipid like "LOL"? No problem. Your mother has an annoying tic -- saying "aaaaahhhh" after sipping a beverage? Again, not a problem. Larry will "fix" that.

Then again, it doesn't really matter what painfully inappropriate situation Larry gets into -- it's always funny. The Curb appeal has always rested somewhere between Larry's indifference to social faux pas and the rage it induces in others. Also, he doesn't really understand the fuss, which translates to him doing what any sane person would do (but is afraid to).

Some of the episodes in season eight will take place in New York, which seems so perfectly organic that you wonder why it took this long. HBO's behind-the-scenes trailer of the New York episodes (which they didn't send out for review) looks especially full of energy and comic opportunity and feature Michael J. Fox and Ricky Gervais, among others.

Larry also unwittingly starts a can't-we-all-just-get-along (no) theme by going with Jeff to a Palestinian chicken restaurant that makes the best chicken anyone has ever tasted. Further, he's attracted to a woman there because her seething hatred of Jews is "hot." What comes from this is, well, very funny. But that's what everyone expects now. The test is always in the result -- is it still funny, even if you can see it coming?

In the case of Curb, it always seems to be LOL, no matter the season.