Judge David Johnson thinks the sauce is a bit... salty. Just a little salty. It's not a big deal or anything, it's just... just a bit salty. You know, the more he thinks about it, it's definitely too salty. He can't have a sauce this salty. Just... a little... salty.
Our reviews of Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete First Season (published February 11th, 2004), Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Second Season (published November 24th, 2004), Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Fourth Season (published September 5th, 2005), Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Fifth Season (published August 1st, 2006), Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Sixth Season (published February 6th, 2008), Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Seventh Season (published June 8th, 2010), and Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Eighth Season (published June 5th, 2012) are also available.
"Why would you do that, Larry?"—Cheryl
Larry David's HBO half-hour exercise in neuroses is one of the funniest shows on television. A true "show about nothing," Curb Your Enthusiasm's third season has meandered onto DVD, in all of its self-loathing glee.
Facts of the Case
Seriously, this is a show about nothing. Forget Seinfeld (for which David was co-creator and writer), which is almost serpentine in plot in comparison. Each episode is filmed in a documentary-like fashion, as if the cameraman was instructed to just follow Larry around in his day-to-day life. Episodes are unscripted; instead actors are given specific outlines and encouraged to improvise. Along the way, Larry interacts with a variety of real-life stars (Ted Danson, Richard Lewis, Michael York, Wanda Sykes, Martin Scorsese) and almost-real-life stars (Cheryl Hines, playing his wife Cheryl David; Jeff Garlin, playing his friend and agent Jeff Greene).
The situations Larry embroils himself in are inspired from real-life societal norms (don't forget to make eye contact with your friend's wife!), recognizable faux pas (if you tip someone twice, you can ask for that second tip back, right?), and plain outlandish premises (a corpse-sniffing dog with an affection for bras).
As in the previous seasons, number three sets up a season-long arc that is touched upon here and there throughout the ten episodes, and which culminates in the finale. For this go-round, Larry decides to invest in a new restaurant with his pals Ted Danson and Jeff Greene.
I love this show. Aside from Arrested Development, I can't think of another recent comedy that I can count on for some solid gut laughs. I discovered its first season via DVD, and was immediately smitten. As an eternal Seinfeld fan, I've always found Larry David's writing and overall sense of humor irresistible. Curb Your Enthusiasm is David unleashed.
That being said, I have a hard time thinking of a show with a more polarizing type of comedy. Take, for example, the last episode of season one, "The Group." Here Larry ends up in an incest support group, and is subjected to some insanely awkward, and frank, discussion. This show does not hesitate to push buttons. I've seen this episode with people who couldn't stop laughing, and people who sat tight-lipped, aghast. I don't think it has broad appeal, a fact that the actors admit to in a group interview included on this set.
But I think it's grand, and hopefully you will, too.
So after laughing myself silly from Season One, I hurriedly scooped up Season Two, and, with a fair amount of disappointment, I found it inferior to its predecessor. Apart from a couple of great episodes, "The Doll" and "Shaq," the season as a whole proved to be inconsistent.
With a bit of hesitation I dropped the first disc of Season Three into my DVD player. Would Season One prove to have been a fluke? Or would Season Two? With joy in my heart, I am pleased to say that this third season is just as great as the first, and boasts some of the funniest moments I've ever seen on my television screen.
• "Chet's Shirt"
A marvelous start to the third season, with a great set-up for the arc. The
restaurant storyline lays the groundwork for the ongoing trouble of securing a
chef. Ted Danson is always great when he combats Larry, and the two enjoy some
hilarious battles over the shirt. As always, poor choices in the past come back
to haunt Larry, and we watch him suffer with glee.
• "The Benadryl Brownie"
These Richard Lewis episodes are always fun. Together, Larry and Richard are
like the Dynamic Duo of Neuroses, and Lewis's…er…quirks are fully
exposed by his fear of parading around the Emmy red carpet with his newly
disfigured girlfriend. A less-interesting subplot has Larry accused of racism
for firing his TV guy.
• "Club Soda and Salt"
This episode is a great example of the way the Curb Your Enthusiasm
formula works: events in the beginning build up to a raucous finale. Larry is at
his loathsome best as he crushes the dreams of an aspiring chef with his
ambiguous critique, and the final "club soda and salt" scene
(referring to a secret way to get out stains) is priceless.
• "The Nanny from Hell"
Oteri steals this episode, even outshining the always-great Susie Essman
(playing Jeff Greene's potty-mouthed wife). Her emotionally unbalanced nanny is
a riot, especially when played off of Cheryl David, who always tries to look for
the good in people, and here ends up being just creeped out.
• "The Terrorist Attack"
This episode could earn high marks simply for one of the most brilliant
moments in the series. Larry and Cheryl discuss evacuating the city, and Cheryl
decides to stay for the benefit. Sheepishly, Larry asks "if I can go?"
noting that it seems a "bit selfish for both of us to perish."
Amazingly, this was completely improvised after someone failed to say
"cut." The rest of the episode is pretty damn funny too.
• "The Special Section"
This episode begins and ends on surreal notes. The opening finds a heavily
made-up Larry David playing a hard-ass Jewish crime boss in a Martin Scorsese
movie (!). And then we have the grave robbery later on. But the funny stuff
involves Larry finding out his mother died, and how his father didn't want to
bother him in New York. Richard Kind is hilarious as Larry's annoying cousin.
• "The Corpse-Sniffing Dog"
These guys really try to get away with anything, as exhibited by the scene
between Larry and Jeff's daughter. The rest of the show is good, though I did
get a little worn out by the outlandish conflict between Larry and the
check-paying woman. Sometimes these characters are just too rotten.
• Krazee-Eyez Killa
Here we have the legendary performance of Chris Williams as Krazee Eyez. He
and David work so well together, it's supernatural. The juxtaposition of Larry's
square, pop culturally-challenged shlub and the profanity-spewing, tough-guy
gangsta rapper is priceless. My favorite moment: when Krazee Eyez reads a
salacious rap lyric to Larry (another improvised surprise) and Larry offers
• "Mary, Joseph, and Larry"
While funny in parts, this episode was my least favorite of the season. The
high point was the blowout between Larry and his family over the cookies (which
Larry thought were animal cookies; "The Son of God is not a monkey,
Larry!" his sister-in-law cries out). A side story involving his
housekeeper and the proper tipping amounts to wait-staff does not represent the
show's strongest stuff.
• "The Grand Opening"
This is it, the funniest episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm I've ever
seen. Funnier that "The Doll." Funnier than "The Group."
From beginning to end, there is gut-busting scene after scene. Yes, this show
might not be all things to all people, but I'd be willing to guess this episode
could double over even the most jaded cynic with laughter. From Cheryl's poorly
timed B.M., to the colon cleanse in the pharmacy, to the revelation of who the
"survivor" really is, to a great dodgeball game, and finally, to the
fantastic grand opening, where, believe it or not, Larry actually enjoys a
The look and sound of the series is unchanged from previous releases. Presented in the original full screen aspect ratio, the picture is crisp. Sound is the usual 2.0 television mix. But, as with previous releases, the extras are woeful. The only bonus is a special from the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival featuring the cast and the crew, but chopped in half to give the illusion of two separate features. Granted, this a very enjoyable and informative program anyway (anecdotes fly and lots of insight into the process is shared), but there are so many missed opportunities on these sets.
If any show is asking for a commentary track it's Curb Your Enthusiasm. But, alas, everyone must be too busy. And how about some behind-the-scenes footage? Or outtakes? In the interviews that are included, the actors repeatedly confess how they are constantly cracking up. Where are those scenes?!
A great show and a great rebound season. There are some truly classic moments within these ten episodes. If only there were some extras worthy of these accolades
Not guilty, you four-eyed f***.
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