Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 8 Episode 2 (The Safe House) Review
Last week’s season premiere established that Larry and Cheryl are now divorced and, as a result, Larry (and Leon) has had to find a new place to live. While there might have been some humor in Larry house hunting by himself, or with Leon making ridiculous demands, the choice to skip all of that and continue on as if nothing really happened is probably for the best. Or, that’s what I would have thought before this week’s episode. It was a fine episode with a few laughs; it never cohered and it seems a bit soon to jump right back into the status quo without any suggestion that something has changed. It’s a little disappointing that David couldn’t find the comedy in a brief disruption of the norm. But, that’s not a specific criticism of this episode and not one that I applied to it, more of a general thought on the follow-up to last week’s events. What did I think of this week’s episode? Read on, dear reader, read on.
Episode 2 — “The Safe House”
It’s not uncommon for me to talk out loud while watching Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry’s awkward antics produce lots of “Oh god!” and “Don’t do that!” and other similar comments. Usually, those are followed up with laughs, because, while awkward and uncomfortable, David is able to inject lots of humor as well. This episode didn’t have that as much. It was lots of awkward, uncomfortable moments and not as many laughs. Larry’s visit to the safe house, for instance, was brutal. You could see that the goal was Larry acting improper and the reactions producing laughs, and they missed the mark by far. Maybe it was that it was a safe house for women in abusive relationships or that the mixture of personalities didn’t quite mesh. Did they finally find a topic that doesn’t have a lot of humor in it?
Well, no, because the doctor thinking that Leon and Larry were gay and that Leon was physically abusive was pretty funny. It was a good payoff for Leon’s earlier revelation that he knows everything about Larry and could clean him out if he wanted, leaving Larry shocked. They haven’t addressed Larry and Leon’s arrangement much, so to hear Larry annoyed and frustrated at this guy who freeloads off of him was refreshing. Will that lead anywhere? Who knows. I will say that this episode having more Leon helped it. Leon is just plain funny. His immediate reaction to finding out that a black guy may have stole the laptop was priceless: apology and frustration. I loved his little “Shiiiiiiiit” comment when Larry went to go find out about Dell’s ‘situation.’ It seemed like a comment from the audience: “There Larry goes again…”
The Lewis subplot had its moments, notably the scene in the restaurant when the guys were just hanging out. You could really see the improve elements of the show come out in the scene as everyone was trying to make each other laugh. I’ve long thought some of the best moments in Curb is when Larry is hanging out with his friends. Those scenes are always more relaxed, more natural, and feel more real. Even if there isn’t as many laughs as other scenes in a show, Larry hanging out with Jeff, Funkhouser, Lewis, Jerry, Leon… any of his friends really, is fun to watch. Pleasant and enjoyable is how I would describe it. If last week and this week’s episodes are any indication, the newly single Larry will result in more hang-out scenes.
The burlesque dancer subplot itself had potential and never realized it. Lewis’s guardedness about her, his wanting to not appear shallow, all of that worked to an extent. The first lunch with him, Larry, and her felt more awkward than funny. The dinner fell flat, oddly unable to find the funny in her wanting breast reduction. Like the safe house, it’s not a topic that plays for laughs as well when the subject is present. Larry and Leon discussing it was funny, but, Larry and Lewis acting indignant at the thought in front of the woman who’s getting done to relieve back pain? Awkward.
The only real home run of the episode was the scene with Curtis Armstrong outside of the restaurant where we watch him make a complete turnaround about Larry asking a black man to watch his laptop. It was a genius turn from absolute anger to shock to shame to false pleasantries that let Larry completely off the hook.
While that scene, the Leon stuff, and the hanging out scene were all good, this was still an episode that fell flat much of the time. When even the good stuff doesn’t rise to a high level, you know you have problems. I also didn’t like the ending. Instead of coming off as funny, it played as mean that this poor guy was being arrested. Definitely an episode where the balance between awkward and funny skewed too heavily towards the former.
The 411: Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty mediocre.
|Final Score: 5.5 [ Not So Good ] legend|