It might seem redundant at this point to heap more praise upon HBO’s comedy jewel “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” After all, the show’s first seven terms have been not only consistently funny, but perhaps increasingly so–for a show whose very title begs for the viewer’s low expectations, its style is finely honed, to the point that each episode achieves a “Seinfeld”-ian fever-pitch of interwoven minutae and cringe-worthy hilarity. (It’s hard to believe the show has only won one Emmy out of its 34 nominations.) But still, at this stage in any sitcom’s career, there are worries; few have stayed so funny for so long. One might wonder if the show’s much-publicized move to New York City this year is merely shorthand for a lack of fresh ideas.
Fear not: Early viewings suggest that season eight of “Curb” will not disappoint. Stars and executive producers Larry David and Jeff Garlin have returned after nearly two years with a rich well of recoil-inducing situational comedy. David’s faux-real-life exploits have served viewers well over the years, and this year’s 10-episode run promises some of its most awkward, and just plain awful, setups yet.
One early-season riff involves David lying repeatedly to avoid attending an event for special-needs children; another plot finds him trying to reconcile his Jewish faith and friends with his enjoyment of an anti-Semitic chicken restaurant. The “Seinfeld” co-creator has a particular knack for imagining these absurd-but-plausible situations–that is to say, there is no lack of ideas here. The “Larry David” of the show is more neurotic and acid-tongued than ever; his stint as a “social assassin” in one episode is both repellent and enviable.
Biggest assets: The show’s supporting cast continues to be its biggest asset. The interplay between David and his close friend and manager Jeff Greene (Garlin) is unfailingly sharp–one can only imagine what must have been removed from their heavily edited sparring matches. Susie Essman, as Susie Greene, continues to be “Curb”‘s secret weapon, a classic sitcom shrew whose volume is amplified by the show’s mid-season relocation to New York–a move that adds an air of unpredictability as the city’s personality becomes part of the show’s overall character.
Longtime guest stars Bob Einstein, Richard Lewis, Michael McKean and perennial scene-stealer J.B. Smoove are all back, while Robert Smigel and Ana Gasteyer are just a few of the new guests to bring their wicked talents to the show. Look out too for a game cameo from 1986 World Series antihero Bill Buckner in a late-season episode that may be the funniest 30 minutes you’ll see all year–possibly the one that earns the show its elusive second Emmy.
Season eight of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” premieres Sunday at 10 p.m. on HBO.