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Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 8 Episode 9 (Mister Softee) Review

September 6, 2011 | Posted by Sat
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Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 8 Episode 9 (Mister Softee) Review  

I’ve made no secret of my general disappointment in this season of Curb Your Enthusiasm and, of course, what happens after I call an episode one of the worst in the show’s history? A giant rebound episode. I still think that “The Palestinian Chicken” is a better episode, but this week’s show comes close. Close enough that I don’t think I would ever really debate anyone on which episode is better, because I could see why someone would like “Mister Softee” better. While I stand by my assessment of the season, having another ‘instant classic’ episode pop up doesn’t hurt. If the show can keep this up with next week’s season finale, maybe I’ll have to reconsider and do the unthinkable: admit I was wrong. Let’s get to the episode proper…

Episode 9 — “Mister Softee”

This episode did what I like best in Curb: it made me laugh while also delivering a fantastic structure. Everything in this episode came out Larry’s experience in the back of the Mister Softee truck playing strip poker. That flashback in and of itself was hilarious, especially with the revelation of where he got the ‘pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good’ from. I love how one scene shows how he can be both arrogant and ashamed about his penis. He often seems oddly confident in his ability to perform sexually, while also horribly insecure. And why wouldn’t he be? He goes from a positive reaction from the girl to men and boys mocking him. Fantastic scene, both funny and insightful.

As I was saying, everything came from that incident. Because of that, he missed the grounder which made Yari not fix his car (which then related to his girlfriend situation), gave him something to talk about in therapy, and gave him a reason to talk to Bill Buckner. The show is usually so good at taking those disparate threads and bringing them back together that it’s nice to see the various stories stem from a singular place and not come back together. It’s an interesting inversion that worked quite well here.

There were just a lot of great scenes in this episode that I’m afraid this review may wind up just being a list of them. The therapist was a great foil for Larry. Smug and superior, while also gossipy and oddly mellow. When he asserted himself, that wouldn’t last long and he’d go with the flow a bit. If anything, he seemed a bit passive aggressive. The way he kept revealing the identity of patients was funny, especially the George Lucas one (though there’s something funny about the odd choice of the lead guitarist from Grand Funk Railroad; and the doctor’s assertion that he played the important notes).

The use of Bill Buckner was good, but also seemed like some of the weaker stuff in the episode. It wasn’t so much his celebrity and past that made him interesting as his enthusiasm for free meals and utter lack of caring when things went wrong. Since the show put an emphasis on his baseball past, I was a little let down, wanting to see those other, funnier elements of his character come out more. Maybe if he returns in the future, they can play it up. His line about Sandy Koufax made laugh quite a bit.

We didn’t see a lot of Yari, but what little we saw was perfect. His pre-game speech was so rambling and incoherent and built to a fantastic finish. That is a man who is way too into a softball game. That he kept coming back to Steinbrenner was hilarious, totally losing scope of the situation and ignoring that Steinbrenner is not usually held up as someone in baseball to admire and pattern one’s self after. Then again, Yari’s temper completely matches the late Yankees owner. (Minor bit about the softball game that didn’t lessen my enjoyment, but did stand out: I wish we’d gotten a postgame scene between Jeff and Larry. Since Jeff was also on the team, I would have liked to see his reaction. Maybe play off their little faux tiff at lunch.)

Yari’s anger resulting in the car not being fixed was funny enough with Ana Gasteyer faking an orgasm in the car, but to add in Susie? Holy shit. That was quite possibly one of the funniest and most horrific things in the show’s history. It was a laugh while cringing moment played absolutely perfectly. The build up with Larry and Susie arguing about getting the ride and the fire added the right amount of tension. There was a hope that, no, she would not get a ride and we would all be spared her ‘getting a ride’ as it were. I both love and hate Larry David for that scene.

A second possible top ten episode in this season is nothing to sneeze at. It will be interesting to watch the DVD set of the season to see which one, this or “The Palestinian Chicken” wins out in the end. Still, great recovery and here’s hoping about next week’s finale.

The 411: Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty great.
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Final Score:  9.5   [  Amazing ]  legend

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