Curb Your Enthusiasm owes us. It's been almost two years since a new episode aired, and the long hiatus has been too cruel. Now that it's back, it better be extra funny to make up for such a long time away. So it was with towering expectations that we watched the first few episodes of the new season, premiering this Sunday, September 20, on HBO. We're now willing to forgive Curb for leaving us, as long as it never happens again.
The first three episodes are called "Funkhouser's Crazy Sister," "Vehicular Fellatio," and "The Reunion." We'll let you guess what that last one is about. When the Season 6 finale aired, Larry was separated from Cheryl and dating Loretta Black (Vivica A. Fox, while Loretta's family -- the Blacks -- lived with him. When Curb returns, Larry and Loretta are still dating, but their relationship is having some issues. With Larry David, wouldn't it be more surprising if there weren't issues?
Through the first two episodes, Larry complains and schemes through dinner parties, forced social visits, plastic clamshell packaging, and (one of the show's favorite targets) doctors' offices. All your favorite characters are back, including Jeff (Jeff Garlin) and Susie (Susie Essman), Cheryl (Cheryl Hines), Richard Lewis (Himself), and Marty Funkhouser (Bob Einstein). There are even some new guest stars, like Catherine O'Hara in the "Funkhouser's Crazy Sister" title role, and Sharon Lawrence as a doctor who clashes with Larry. As usual, all of Larry's complaints go unanswered and all of his schemes backfire -- and we wouldn't have it any other way.
Also: Maybe we are noticing this more because we are smarter now than we used to be, but it seems like this year, everyone on the show is just as self-involved and curmudgeonly as Larry. The reason he operates the way he does that he expects everyone to live by the same set of rules -- Larry's rules. The two most common conflicts result when: 1) People live by a different set of rules (like when Larry interrupted his brother-in-law-to-be's baptism because he thought the priest was trying to drown the man), and 2) Larry runs up against everyone else behaving just as badly as he does (like when the Jewish relatives of the groom thought Larry was hero for interrupting the baptism, and Larry decided to take credit.) This year, the early episodes seem a lot more focused on the latter, and the show feels fresher for it. Larry still spends a lot of time apologizing, but we are beginning to see him more as a hero than an antihero, and that's kind of nice.
But you're just here to read about the Seinfeld stuff, right?. The arc that everyone will be talking about this season begins in the third episode, "The Reunion." We don't want to ruin anything, and probably aren't allowed to, anyway. BUT: We will say that this episode centers around a potential (fictional) Seinfeld reunion show that (fictional) NBC wants Larry to (fictionally) write, and that all four stars of Seinfeld appear as themselves. Trust us, it's really fun to watch.
Even more fun to watch, however, is JB Smoove's Leon Black -- Larry's freeloading houseguest and tour guide to black culture -- who first appeared on the show last season. Smoove steals every scene he's in with his rapidfire, profane delivery; everything he says is hysterical. While we can't wait to see how the Seinfeld reunion plays out, and to see who else Larry can manage to piss off, we really hope that the coming episodes feature a lot more Smoove. Because like we said, we hope Curb never ends. But when it does, we think we might miss Leon most of all.