DVD Review: ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Season 8

The incomparable Larry David returns this week in Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 8, which sees the social leper flee LA to his home town of New York for three months in order to avoid a charity gig appearance. With cameos from Michael McKean, Ricky Gervais, Bill Buckner, Michael J. Fox and even NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, the long-running HBO comedy series seems more capable than ever of reeling in A-List talent, as well as delivering intelligent, awkward humour of the highest calibre.

Following the previous season’s Seinfeld reunion, Larry is living the bachelor life. With his divorce to wife Cheryl eventually finalised, Larry hits the dating scene, is involved in a vendetta with a group of local girl scouts, denies a dying dog his last meal, disrupts a Broadway show, deals with an epidemic of ‘pig parking’, exposes an exponent of the much-vaunted ‘chat-and-cut’ and confronts a Japanese maître d’ over his ‘shit bow’. When a faulty alibi lands him back in his hometown of New York, Larry’s social assassin skills are even let loose upon the Big Apple – with disastrous consequence.

Despite two arguably inconsistent outings in the form of Seasons 5 and 6 (the introduction of ‘The Blacks’ is arguably the most unsubtle running joke in the entire series), Season 8 continues the hot-streak of comic form seen with throughout the Seinfeld reunion, reaffirming Curb’s place as one of the finest comedies on television history. David is an Allen-esque hero for our times, a self-deprecating Jew seemingly at odds with the rest of the human race, regardless of creed, religion or gender.

Unlike Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm sees David and a roll-call of reappearing directors (including Robert B. Weide and Sacha Baron Cohen collaborator Larry Charles) taking the naturalistic approach, relying on improvisation over scripting, uncomfortable tête-à-têtes over sitcom-style laugh tracks. No subject is too controversial to be explored by David’s unique style of humour, be it gender politics, anti-Semitism or even Parkinson’s – as seen in the season finale, featuring a superb Michael J. Fox. Fox’s very involvement is telling, happy to allow David to gently poke fun, whilst at the same time highlight the debilitating disease that he has lived with for the past 20 years.

Thanks to a seemingly unique agreement with HBO (as revealed by Weide in a recent BBC interview), David has carte blanche to produce as many seasons of Curb as he wishes, with two more series apparently in the pipeline. On current evidence, this most consistent of Emmy and Golden Globe-winning comedies has plenty of cringeworthy laughs left in the tank.

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Daniel Green

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