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Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 8 Episode 1 (“The Divorce”) Review

July 12, 2011 | Posted by Sat
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Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 8 Episode 1 (“The Divorce”) Review  

Welcome to the first 411 review of Curb Your Enthusiasm season eight. I’m Chad Nevett and, every week, I’ll be here to share my thoughts on the latest adventures of Larry. After last season’s Seinfeld reunion plot, David and company have some high expectations to meet. Then again, every season seems like it can’t be topped and, somehow, David always manages to rise to the occasion. This season was teased with a promise of the show relocating to New York somehow. While not the first time Curb has taken place in New York, the prospect of an arc built around a trip to the city is exciting. But, before we get there, we need to follow up on how season seven ended: Larry and Cheryl reunited only for Larry to realize that Cheryl had left a ring stain on Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s coffee table that he had been blamed for and insisting that Cheryl call Julia to confess. The ending of the season seven finale had people torn over its meaning. Was Cheryl resigning herself to a life of Larry’s neuroses? Did she realize she had made a mistake by thinking he’d changed? Would they stay together or split up? Well, the title of the season eight premiere gives a pretty big clue…

Episode 1 — “The Divorce”

For the first time ever, Curb Your Enthusiasm had a teaser before the title credits and that now familiar music. Picking up where season seven left off, Cheryl walks out on Larry and we jump ahead a year to find their divorce almost finalized. I’m a little wary of Cheryl being written out of the show completely since they’ve teased this before and haven’t pulled the trigger. Cheryl Hines and Larry David have such good comedic chemistry that I can’t see her being gone for too long. This episode almost acted as ‘Cheryl & Larry’s Greatest Hits’ in their trio of encounters. First, Larry is a little obnoxious and weird, reminding her why she’s divorcing him. Then, he’s sweet and charming and funny, and there’s a sense that they can, at least, be friendly in the future. Finally, there’s Larry on the floor with a tampon up his nose and she stands triumphant in their divorce. Their entire relationship has been a mixture of those three scenes at various points and giving us all three was a smart move, if only to tease the idea that this is a completely amicable split.

As always, this episode was a juggling act of a myriad of subplots that wove in and out of one another, but held together by divorce. The construction was nicely done with each element unfolding naturally. Larry’s divorce led to the lunch where Dodgers owner Joe O’Donnell (Gary Gole in a funny guest spot) and his divorce were introduced, and the seeds for Marty Funkhouser’s divorce were planted. The opening of the lunch scene was hilarious with Jeff’s offer of a 50/50 amicable divorce should he and Susie ever get divorced and her angry, hate-filled response that she would destroy him. The look in Jeff’s eyes sold it: there’s no escape, he’s stuck with this woman forever. And the added beat before they cut to the Funkhousers across the table was a nice punctuation on the moment.

Larry’s obsession over his lawyer being Jewish and that leading to his downfall was exactly what you thought would happen. The second he began to wonder about his lawyer and the introduction of Katz as a possible alternative, you could see where it was going. It was necessary, because a fair divorce for Larry isn’t funny and it’s too nice. Larry getting the house and everything continuing on from where it was already doesn’t offer up as many possibilities as Larry kicked out, still saddled with Leon, and beginning his newly single life in different circumstances. The exploration of his lawyer’s Jewish deception was good, especially when the instances of him obviously trying to convince people he’s Jewish kept piling up, culminating in Funkhouser’s “I had Hanukkah at his house!”

That scene at Larry’s around the pool table was the best of the show. I always enjoy just seeing Larry and his friends hanging out. I could watch an entire episode of that. But, throw in Funkhouser’s excitement at getting a divorce because of Larry and Jeff’s jealousy that everyone is getting divorced but him, and that scene was perfect. The complete turn when Leon started talking about Funkhouser having ‘run that ass into the ground’ and Marty immediately backing away from disparaging his (soon-to-be-ex) wife like that worked quite well.

The only misstep the episode had was its ending. The scene in the lobby after Larry had been punched and discovered by Cheryl and her lawyer with a tampon in his nose was too good an ending. Larry had lost the house, was embarrassed, and we’re left wondering where it would go from here. Instead, we got a sort of epilogue scene that was amusing, but didn’t feel like that proper payoff to the build of the episode. Larry and Leon arguing was funny and would have been missed, though it probably could have been included in the next episode. The Girl Scouts stuff felt redundant after the previous scene where Larry cancelled his order.

Still, despite the weaker ending, “The Divorce” was a funny half-hour of television and kicked off the eighth season with lots of potential for future stories. Where will Larry live now? Will Leon live with him? Will Jeff ever be free of Susie? How do they all get to New York? I guess we’ll see.

The 411: Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Final Score:  8.0   [ Very Good ]  legend

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