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‘Curb’ finale: Pretty, pretty good or just OK?

The “Seinfeld” reunion arc delivered the laughs, but the "Curb" -ier parts of the show left something to be desired. Mocha Joe? Come on!
/ Source: Entertainment Weekly

There were three distinct elements of the Seinfeld reunion arc on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” I guess you want a SPOILER ALERT for some of the plot details below.

• There were the scenes showing us how the cast got back together again via the Curb universe (it was Curb-Larry’s ploy to get back together with wife Cheryl by writing a role for her).

• There was the episode-within-the-episode we saw on last night’s finale.

• And there was the more-Curb-than-Seinfeld subplot: typical Curb stuff that involved Larry insulting a coffee-stand owner (Mocha Joe, played by the reliably sparky Saverio Guerra); Larry suspecting Jason Alexander of having an affair with Cheryl, and a mildly funny repetition-gag about a drink stain on a wood table (“Do you respect wood?”).

By far the funniest of these three elements were the scenes that brought the Seinfeld cast members into Curb-world, kibitzing with each other and rehearsing. The easy comic timing between all of them was pure pleasure, as were moments such as a scene last week involving Bob Einstein’s Marty Funkhouser. He insisted on telling Jerry a dirty joke against Larry’s wishes, and the scene became a small classic: the joke was funny, Jerry’s delighted reaction was priceless, and Larry got to simmer amusingly in the background.

The Seinfeld reunion episode itself — most of it presented, in fractured form, last night — amounted to a solid episode of regular-Seinfeld, with George having lost a lot of money in the Bernie Madoff scandal. There was some fine, fresh Seinfeld observational humor conducted in “Jerry”’s apartment, as when Elaine started reading her Blackberry messages. Jerry’s petulant indignance was impeccable: “Oh, you’re gonna do the Blackberry head-down thing on me now?!”

Whenever this jerry-rigged enterprise blurred the lines between “Curb” and “Seinfeld,” things could get dicey. As Larry’s fury over his imagined affair between Jason and Cheryl spilled onto the Seinfeld set, there were more Curb-ish, churlish moments, such as the tedious Mocha Joe feud. Even so, there were excellent, unpredictable scenes, as when Jerry asserted with comic asperity that he, Julia, Jason, and Michael were all beloved figures — icons — but that Larry was not. Repetition being the soul of Seinfeld, he emphasized the point. “Icon,” said Jerry, pointing to himself. “No-con!” he said, pointing to Larry.

“Curb” at this point in its history strains to get beyond merely putting Larry David into absurd situations that force him to blow his top. But the Curb season finale gave us a Seinfeld reunion we could love. ”We screwed up one finale, we can’t [screw up] another,” said Jerry.

They didn’t. On the other hand, “Curb’s” finale — which found Larry and Cheryl reunited, but already starting to unravel again — that finale was more uneven; a little screwed-up. But you know what? I don’t think Larry David would want it any other way.