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CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM 8.01 ‘The Divorce’

Larry David manages to alienate his wife, the Girl Scouts and the owner of the Dodgers. Now, that's talent!

Episode Title: "The Divorce"

Story By: Larry David, Alec Berg, David Mandel & Jeff Schaffer
 
Director: David Steinberg

 

If you watch television for any length of time, you'll notice that almost every show has its own patterns that it falls into, sometimes to their detriment. And despite the loose stories of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," it too has a general formula: Larry thoughtlessly offends someone, gets his comeuppance and then he raises the stakes until he loses everything he wanted in a humorous ending. Almost every episode plays out the same way.

Fortunately, Larry David happens to be a master when it comes to making awkward comedy. We've been getting the same kind of stories since "Curb Your Enthusiasm" first aired in 2000 and they still hasn't gotten old yet.

The opening moments of this episode flashback to last season's finale in which Larry had finally won back his wife, Cheryl (Cheryl Hines) and then he immediately drove her away for good thanks to his anal retentive insistence that she confess to leaving a drink without a coaster at a friend's house.

And so, one year later Larry and Cheryl are finally on the verge of finishing their divorce. Larry even has an ace lawyer, Andrew Berg (Paul F. Tompkins), who helps him come out ahead in the settlement and he also keeps Larry's house. Larry even strikes up a friendship with Joe O'Donnell (Gary Cole), the fictional owner of the Dodgers (standing in for Frank McCourt) who also happens to be going through a divorce.

Yes, life is good for Larry David… until he starts living it.

Through almost no ill intent, Larry accidentally encourages his friend, Funkhouser (Bob Einstein) to get a divorce after inadvertantly ruining the man's chance of having a vacation without his wife. And when O'Donnell's daughter, Kyra (Kaitlyn Dever) shows up at his door selling Girl Scout cookies, he's all too happy to help talk the girl through her first period and describe how to use a tampon through a bathroom door. It was somewhat refreshing that the show didn't use that scene to make Larry accidentally seem like a pervert. Given the situation Larry actually did a good job. On "Justified," Dever proved that she had a lot of dramatic acting ability. Playing off of David, Dever also acquitted herself well even though most of her scenes were played out off screen.

Of course, it wouldn't be "Curb" if Larry's attempted good deed didn't turn into an avalanche of bad news for him. First, Joe took offense to Larry's coaching of his daughter and canceled the Dodger tickets he promised him. Then the Girl Scouts show up in increasing numbers to shake Larry down for the money that he would have paid for Kyra's cookies. This may be the only show on TV in which the viewer is invited to side with a cranky old man over some Girl Scouts.

Paul F. Tompkins was really funny as Larry's uberlawyer, Andrew; whose dark secret was that he wasn't actually Jewish. Horrified, Larry accuses Andrew of faking his Judiasm and he immediately hires Hiriam Katz (Dan Jablons), a Jewish lawyer whom Larry is convinced will give him a better divorce settlement. Larry even gets his in with Joe back by exposing Andrew's non Jew status and introducing him to Hiriam.

Larry's behavior towards Andrew definitely straddles the line of discrimination, but he pays the price for it. Hiriam turns out to be a horrible lawyer who not only gives away Larry's house to Cheryl in the settlement, he also loses the Dodgers in Joe's case. Strangely enough, Larry's behavior would have been more offensive had he not suffered for it. That may be why we accept so many of Larry's faults. He always has to roll with the punches that he set in motion.

Cheryl Hines has been pretty conspicuously absent from the promo trailers for this season and if she really is being written out of the series, she'll be sorely missed. But a newly single Larry could be a lot of fun as well. Although now that Larry has lost the house, it's also not clear how or why Larry's persistent house guest, Leon (J. B. Smoove) will be sticking around. Leon actually says even more extreme things than Larry on a constant basis, he just never suffers for them. But Smoove still has a likable presence that keeps his character entertaining. He and Larry also have an oddly appealing chemistry that really works in their scenes together.

"Curb" remains a solid comedy series with occasional flashes of brilliance. Larry David, you've come back just in time. Never leave us again!


Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.