A review of last night’s Curb Your Enthusiasm just as soon as I take back your unsucked candy…
“A Disturbance in the Kitchen” was another mixed bag for this revival season. Certain scenes — Salman Rushdie explaining the fatwa advantages to Larry, Larry enthusiastically making an ass , of himself in court — really popped, but on the whole it all feels looser and less precise than this show can be at its best. A lot of bits seemed very Curb-y in theory, but the execution needed a few more passes.
This was clear almost from the start. The restaurant manager’s gift for evading even the most innocuous question (the color of his tie, for instance) was clever, but it felt like Larry got way too upset about the eponymous disturbance way too quickly. Responding with an absurd level of ire to a small inconvenience is a fundamental Larry David character trait, but he usually has some more build-up before it happens, either in terms of when in the episode the tantrum takes place or how many things have prompted it. He started screaming his head off at the chef(*) before the episode had barely started — better it had come after his second time at the restaurant — and it set the tone for a half-hour in which too many jokes seemed either rushed or incomplete, all the way through to the payoff. On the one hand, I appreciated that we finally got to see what actually happened during one disturbance. On the other, the show’s karmic system of justice at its best tends to incorporate multiple sources at once, and it felt like the chef should have been participating in Larry’s latest humiliation, rather than being exasperated witness to it.
(*) With Alec Berg and David Mandel busy running, respectively, Silicon Valley and Veep, Jeff Schaffer is usually the only season eight veteran getting shared story credit with David, and he’s also directed multiple episodes this year. Since he was also co-creator of Th League, he’s also starting to sprinkle some old friends into guest spots, with Stephen Rannazzisi here as the angry chef, and Katie Aselton appearing in the fifth episode (the other one shown at the premiere). I wouldn’t be surprised to see more League players pop up before this season is over, even the insanely busy Mark Duplass and Nick Kroll.