Episode Title: "Palestinian Chicken"
Story By: Larry David, Alec Berg, David Mandel & Jeff Schaffer
Director: David Steinberg
If there's one constant criticism for "Curb Your Enthusiasm," it's that the show sometimes feels like it's the same "Seinfeld," just in a different decade. Last week's episode with Larry David and the Safe House next door seemed like it would have been right at home on NBC. It was funny, but it wasn't really pushing any comedic boundaries.
"Palestinian Chicken" doesn't have that problem. Some of Larry's escapades this week are definitely HBO only. And as the name of the episode suggests, the majority of the show is based around Al-Babbas, a chicken restaurant run by anti-Zionist Palestinians. They're not quite militant and they don't seem to want to co-exist with Jewish people in the Holy Land, but they're relatively tolerant of Larry and Jeff's (Jeff Garlin) presence within the restaurant itself.
This of course is perfectly fine with Larry, who loves the food and notes that the restaurant would be the perfect place to have an affair, since non of their Jewish friends would likely see them there. Larry is also particularly attracted to Shara (Anne Bedian), one of the owners of Al-Babbas who is particularly outspoken against the Jewish people. In Larry's mind, nothing is more attractive than someone who hates you.
Larry's other primary concern is an upcoming golf tournament at their country club; which is jeopardized by Marty Funkhouser (Bob Einstein) and his sudden decision to become a fully practicing Jew, yamaka and all. And during a dinner party, Larry finally earns the name "social assassin" when he practically assaults the host's wife to prevent her from eating desert (per her earlier request).
Once Jeff coins the "social assassin" term, Larry has rarely been happier. Now he can speak out even more than he usually does. Even his friends seem to like him more now that they realize that they can use his big mouth to get what they want. But when they try to use him to change the annoying behavior of their family, it hilariously backfires in their faces.
The highlight of the episode comes when Larry and Jeff prevent Marty from wearing his yamaka in Al-Babbas, earning a standing ovation from the other patrons and amorous attention from Shara. She becomes so taken with Larry that she promises to "f*** the Jew" out of him as she shout outs anti-Jewish slogans to maintain her sexual excitement. It's ludicrous and a little unbelievable, but David still makes it work.
There's a fine line between becoming a political comedy and maintaining the normal tone of the show. "Curb" actually manages to address the infamous Muslim center near Ground Zero debate by dressing the issue up as another location of Al-Babbas moving in next to a famous Jewish deli. Outwardly, Larry and Jeff are against the new Al-Babbas, but their hearts are with their stomachs on this one.
The closing scene pulls Larry between the two warring factions and forces him to choose between the screeching of Susie (Susan Essman) and Funkhouser or the beautiful Shara, who promises a three-way with Larry and her sister if he joins her side in the fight. Larry's decision isn't shown, but his first choice will always be in his self interest. It would be fun if Shara sticks around as his new girlfriend.
The B-plot of Larry's social assassin escapades runs out of steam in the second half of the episode, when Susie's daughter blackmails Larry into using his skills to confront her mother about her obnoxious slurping habit. But the kid does a pretty dead on imitation of Susie when she tells Larry to get out of their driveway. Larry's side visit to Funkhouser's Rabbi was also pretty funny as he alternately fought with her over the Palestinian Chicken and then apparently used it to force her to allow Funkhouser to go golfing on the Sabbath.
There is a running gag about one of the wives constantly saying "LOL" instead of laughing, but this was a legitimate laugh out loud episode and the best of the three installments so far this season. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is almost always good, but this week it was great.
Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.