DVD Review: Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 8

Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 8STUDIO: HBO/Warner | CREATOR: Larry David | CAST: Larry David, Jeff Garlin,  Cheryl Hines, J.B. Smoove, Susie Essman
DVD RELEASE DATE: 6/5/2012 | PRICE: DVD $39.98
BONUSES: “Leon’s Guide to NYC,” roundtable discussion with Larry David and cast
SPECS: NR | 300 min. | Comedy | 1.33:1 fullscreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, French and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): TV show | Audio | Video | Overall

HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 8 finds creator/writer/star Larry David continuing to get himself into cringe-worthy comedic trouble in a collection of 10 TV  episodes that take him from Los Angeles back to his hometown of New York City (and beyond!).

The first five installments see Larry embarking on a newly single life in L.A. following his divorce, until circumstances drop him into Manhattan for the misadventure-filled second five chapters. Standout episodes find Larry getting into a trouble at a Palestinian restaurant, a Parkinson’s fundraiser with Michael J. Fox (Back to the Future), aboard a plane where he becomes an unexpected hero, and alongside former Chicago Cubs baseball player Bill Buckner of “Game 6” fame.

Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 8 sceneAlong with Fox and Buckner, guest stars in the eighth season include New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Rosie O’Donnell, Harry Hamlin (TV’s Army Wives), Gary Cole (The Joneses) and Samantha Mathis (The New Daughter), among others.

Season 8 is no better or worse than David’s previous outings—his is the kind of aggressive, uncomfortable humor that either works for viewers or comes off as obnoxious and unappealing. That said, Curb’s fans have been watching the television show for more than a decade, and as they’re so familiar and comfortable with David and company’s method and style, that handful of lesser episodes can be forgiven.

There are two bonus features in the two-DVD set—one silly, one other substantial. First off is a 10-minute on-the-move video diary of JB Smoove (Hall Pass)  in his Curb character of Leon conducting a loose tour of downtown New York City. Bouncing from Chinatown to Soho to the Lower East Side, Leon browses souvenir shops, grabs a slice of pizza and even gets into a one-on-one game at a local playground. Overall, it’s a spirited but disposable piece.

Better is the 90-minute roundtable discussion at New York City’s 92nd Street Y. Recording on the eve of the broadcast premiere of the eighth season, the extra features David and co-stars Susie Essman (Cop Out), Jeff Garlin (American Loser), and Cheryl Hines (TV’s Suburgatory) in an easygoing BS-session moderated by newsman Brian Williams, who introduces himself to the live audience as the “house goy.”

The usual chit-chat about how the show is conceived, its improvisational approach and specific episodes occasionally devolves into a light-hearted analysis of David. “Are you a narcissist?” “Are you like the character in real life?” “Are you a social assassin?” Lots of questions like this are posed to David and company, and there are some good laughs, but it’s all  sort of one track. More time spent on David’s influences and inspirations or on the rigmarole of production wouldn’t have hurt.

The best comment actually comes from co-star Garlin, who announces that he doesn’t think Curb Your Enthusiasm is brilliant. “Pixar movies are brilliant. They can work for the dumbest people and for the smartest people—everyone can take something from it,” he reasons. “I think you have to be smart for our show. There’s enough entertainment out there for dumb people. Our show is for smart people and I’m proud of it.”


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.