So prior to the episode I wrote this: “Even if the show covers issues that are well-worn (as they did with the use of the “n-word”), I’m confident that Larry can put his own spin on it.” I think I had the right idea, but as I watched the Season Seven premiere I couldn’t help but feel a little unsettled at the show’s seemingly all-too-conscious attempt to be “edgy.” As if to assure everyone that this season of Curb will be as outrageous as ever, Larry and company are insensitive to cancer, homosexuality, and mental illness (and of course, the previews for next week’s episode made sure to cover racial content).
Aside from that, I found Jeff’s decision to have sex with the typically named Bam Bam (remember Cha Cha?) to be completely ridiculous and somewhat forced. That’s not to say that it ruined the episode for me, but I just found it to be an exaggeration of his character.
Larry’s qualms with dinner party rules and refrigerator etiquette were on par with the rest of the series, but nothing special. While this might sound like a critique, I actually think it’s great because it demonstrates stability and consistency of voice. Not every scene of the series is hilarious; some of these little arguments and conflicts lead to big laughs and some don’t. I’m okay with that as long as the formula is more or less preserved.
Although I’ve offered mostly criticisms of the episode, I didn’t think it was bad, and I look forward to a good season. My favorite line was probably Larry’s off-the-cuff complaint about apricots, and my favorite scene was his “empty gesture” toward Marty Funkhouser.
Like F.P., I liked all of the little critiques and scuffles of norms and traditions in this episode. While I certainly relate to the A/C temperature debate (I’m as anti-75 as you get), I didn’t necessarily think the dialogue was that humorous. But, I particularly liked the resting versus sleeping argument Larry has with Auntie Rae. I mean, seriously, what does it mean to rest? Resting seems like something people do when they feel too guilty to sleep.
As usual, I thought there was some excellent improv in this episode: My favorite line of the whole episode was probably the doctor’s “Don’t condescend to me with your tiny pear!” Although I agree that Jeff’s decision is a bit too absurd (I do love the “Bam Bam” name though), I thought he did an excellent job at the dinner table during his uncomfortable silent interaction with Bam Bam. While I definitely enjoyed this episode overall, this wasn’t in the highest class of Curb episodes. While the different threads did come together, that resolution seemed a little forced. The scene with the police, doctor, Loretta, and Bam Bam seemed a bit rushed and overly dense.
Regarding broader plot developments, I’m not a huge fan of this Loretta cancer bit. Like F.P., I’m worried that it will lead to a lot of trite outrageousness. I am still excited for Seinfeld and Cheryl’s conversation with Larry basically tells us the motivation for this reunion episode. I liked that Cheryl and Larry missed each other: It was some necessary realism that helped to counter the excess absurdity of earlier scenes. And, even though Cheryl isn’t a particularly humorous part of the show, I do think her role as a sounding board/foil is often a time when Larry is at his best. So, for those reasons, her continued involvement pleases me.
It’s hard to tell from their tones, but I would venture to say that I liked this episode more than F.P. and Josh. I was, admittedly, worried at the beginning. I thought the episode got off to a slow start: The temperature debate was a little hackneyed and boring, and the introduction of Funkhouser’s “crazy sister” had me worried that the whole episode would turn into a farce.
In the end, though, I think the episode picked up with some funny moments. I didn’t think Jeff sleeping with Bam Bam was all that absurd—although it did pass the admission that he fantasized about Cheryl as the most tasteless thing he’s ever done—since we know he is a pretty reprehensible character.
I even thought they were careful not to make the racial/mental illness/gay jokes especially edgy or taboo. They were more about how people respond to Larry than about being black, gay, or crazy: Wanda treats Larry better because he “knows Lil Wayne,” the doctor takes offense at Larry’s benign comment about “seeming gay,” and Bam Bam gets upset when Larry takes food for himself.
This episode wasn’t perfect, but it was funny throughout (especially the second half) and set up the season well, by establishing Larry’s dynamic with the Blacks and reuniting him with Cheryl.