HBO // 2011 // 300 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 5th, 2012
Curb Your Enthusiasm is the Manny Pacquiao of sitcoms: pound-for-pound, it's the best in the world.
We pick up Season 8 with Larry David facing a foreign reality: one of dating, bachelorhood, and living with Leon (J.B. Smoove, We Bought a Zoo). Some things don't change, as Larry finds himself embroiled in all manner of social cataclysm, including a rivalry with Rosie O'Donnell over the affections of a bisexual, a bout of racism involving a laptop babysitting assignment, the depriving of ice cream from a terminally ill dog, the everlasting battle against pig parkers, and a ruse to get out of volunteering with sick kids that becomes so complex he's forced to relocate to New York City.
Season 7 of Curb Your Enthusiasm is, in my humble estimation, one of the all-time great seasons of situation comedy ever devised, which is why I felt a tad disappointed with Season 8 in its original broadcast run. Sure, I laughed and the series formula hummed along with precision, but was it me...or was their a drop in quality, especially compared to the genius of the season prior?
It was me. Upon further review, Larry David's brilliant improv-heavy, borderline-biopic show is as strong as ever and contains sustained hilarity throughout its ten episodes. Are there soft spots? Sure. Sometimes Larry's "social assassin" schtick can feel overlong and over-the-top, but any moments that stumbled are made up for with gut-busting setups later on.
This outing differs from previous seasons in that there is no season-long narrative arc. Larry's not starring in The Producers, trying to cash in on his 10th anniversary, opening a celebrity restaurant, or putting together the Seinfeld finale. These installments feel more like one-offs, with his extended stay in NYC offering the only continuity. No matter. It's still great for several reasons:
Richard Lewis. His relationship with the Burlesque dancer and the conundrum that presents itself from Larry's impromptu "breast dermatology?" Awesome.
Leon. Last year it was his accountant impersonation; this year it's his newfound superhuman abilities bestowed upon him by eyewear. J.B. Smoove is responsible for the funniest creation on television.
No limits. Larry does not shy away from anything. This season draws comedy from Parkinson's disease, pre-gay children, and battered women.
The episode with Bill Buckner. I will say no more, but I defy you to find a funnier half hour of television that has ever aired anywhere.
That's all I've got. If you've seen the show, you know the excellence that awaits. If you're new to Curb Your Enthusiasm, drop what you're doing and start from Season 1.
HBO's two-disc set is one of its richest: standard definition 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby 5.1 surround, a brief segment featuring Leon as a NYC tour guide, and a terrific 90-minute Brian Williams interview with cast at New York's 92nd Street YMCA.
Other sitcoms might be more meta, more gag-heavy, more Ashton-Kutcher-ridden, but none are as exquisitely funny as Curb Your Enthusiasm, and that applies to its eight season as well.
Not Guilty. The fact that Curb Your Enthusiasm has never won an Emmy
-- despite 30 Rock winning three in a row! -- is proof that we all
deserve whatever it is the Mayans have in store for us.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site