[17 September 2009]
REASON TO WATCH: Long-awaited arrival of the seventh season ... and some guy named Jerry.
CATCHING UP: Hard to believe, but it’s been two — two! — years since “Curb’s” sixth season wrapped, so a refresher is in order. Cheryl (Cheryl Hines) has moved out and is dating the NoFly Zone (a certain type of underwear) guy. At a bat mitzvah, Larry (Larry David) hooks up with Loretta (Vivica A. Fox), the matriarch of the Black family, who had been living with the Davids after being displaced by a hurricane.
WHAT SUNDAY’S ABOUT: Loretta is in bed, ill, and it could be cancer. But even before she got sick, Larry had been thinking of breaking up with her. They just don’t have much in common — he likes the house cool, she likes it hot, and so on. But Jeff (Jeff Garlin) warns him that he’d better break up with her soon, because “you can’t break up with someone who has cancer. You’ve got to break up with her before she gets the first test results.”
Meanwhile, Marty Funkhouser’s (Bob Einstein) sister, Bam Bam (Catherine O’Hara), has been released from a mental institution. Larry offers to visit and comfort her; this is, of course, an empty gesture, but Funkhouser takes him up on it, anyway. Oh, yes, and while at a restaurant, Larry runs into Cheryl. Without Cheryl, Larry’s edges have been sharpened — he’s more of an argumentative, bile-filled misanthrope than ever, in other words. But the whole season — especially the much-ballyhooed “Seinfeld” reunion coming Oct. 4 — may pivot on this chance encounter.
BOTTOM LINE: Larry David is a comic genius — the Chaplin of our time — who has created not one but two of the greatest comedies of the modern TV era. But how could he possibly top season two (Jason Alexander), or three (the restaurant), or five (Richard Lewis’ kidney)? He may have, though. The Seinfeld reunion will be one of the TV events of the year. Who else but Larry David could have imagined that a “Curb” largely without the glorious Cheryl Hines could conceivably be funnier? Or that her absence might work as a comedic plot foil for one of its major story arcs? He did, and that’s genius.