Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Second Season (2001)
Larry: I don't really get this fascination that people have with the ocean. I mean, I stare at it for ten minutes and I go, "OK, I get it."
Cheryl: Don't you feel calmer?
Larry: I feel aggravated that I'm missing what other people are getting.- Larry David, Cheryl Hines
Stars: Larry David, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin
Other Stars: Wanda Sykes, Richard Lewis, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, Merrin Dungey
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language and sexual humor)
Run Time: Approx. 300 min.
Release Date: 2004-06-15
DVD ReviewIf Larry David is very much like the character he plays on television, I don't think I'd like to spend the day with him, but I'll be more than happy to watch him until his show goes off the air. If Curb Your Enthusiasm , the semi-autobiographical, improvised show about David's life in Hollywood, is, unlike the writer-star's previous hit, Seinfeld, about anything, it's Larry-the-character's reprehensible behavior and his utter failure to play nice with anyone, including his friends and family. If the show is any indication, having a good time at lunch with Larry David would be only slightly more uncomfortable than injecting lemon juice into your eyeballs with a ballpoint pen.
The first season was an entirely enjoyable experience, but now that I've seen Season Two, it's easy to see it's early faults. With ten successful episodes already in the can, David came back for his second year with confidence in his concept and cast and a willingness to take one step further. Consistently, the second season is better paced, with situations that escalate to even more outlandish and farcical levels by the end of the episode.
Stronger continuity is also a big plus. There was a bit in Season One, but these ten episodes actually have a fairly important arc: Larry is looking to come out of retirement and get back into TV, and he has a great idea to sell. He interests first Jason Alexander, then Julia Louis-Dreyfus (both of Seinfeld) in a sit-com about an actor who made millions on a hit TV show but now can be separated from the character in the audience's mind. All of the networks want to work with Larry David... until they actually get to know him, at which time the deals invariably fall to pieces, usually because Larry is such an obnoxious, insufferable prick.
Yes, you can't help by fall in love with Larry as he manages to gloriously screw up not one, but three multi-million dollar TV contracts just by being himself. He starts off with HBO (resulting in some cute meta-humor about the fact that Curb is an HBO property), but manages to sour the deal because of (depending on how you look at it) his unwillingness to accommodate his wife's desire to have dinner and drinks at two different places, his inability to stop complaining about seven stolen shrimp, or his poor choice of exclamations during a friendly game of poker (you know those Hollywood types, you shout the "c-word" at them and suddenly, ooooh, they're all offended).
Of course, that misfortune is nothing compared to the debacle that spoils a contract with ABC. Episode 7, The Doll, is widely regarded by fans to be the best episode of the four seasons to date, and I certainly can't recall laughing harder at any other episode, or anything else on TV recently, for that matter. The problems start with Larry's refusal to pee in a bathroom without a lock on the door (not that I blame him). Soon, he's cut all the hair off of the head of a rare doll at the request of an ABC executive's daughter, who didn't know it wouldn't grow back ("I'm sure she's a gifted child. Too bad she didn't know a doll's hair wouldn't grow back," he says to the furious mother). He tries to fix the problem by stealing the same doll from his manager Jeff's (Jeff Garlin) daughter, and winds up with a doll down his pants and an uncomfortable rash, which eventually leads to an ending that literally left my jaw hanging. If you have any doubts about how far Larry David will go for a laugh, the climax of this episode will silence them.
In fact, there isn't a single clunker is Season Two—all approach classic status. The individual episode plots tie together and build upon one another better, and once you've finished the final episode, you'll see the same is true of the season as a whole. David seems to have put even more of himself into Larry (who grows more stubborn and socially awkward by the episode) and the character's daily life. Wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines) is more well rounded—like David's real wife, she's an environmentalist who won't let her husband pitch his show to NBC because of corporate policies. Even Jeff has a life outside of Larry's, as he separates from his wife (Susie Essman), who can no longer stand him or Larry (a.k.a. "the bald pervert"). Wanda Sykes shows up here and there and is funny even with minimal screen time (I think David uses her just because she's funny, not because it necessarily makes sense for her to be good friends with Cheryl).
Other great moments from Season Two: Larry's reaction to seeing his first baptism. Larry's attempts to sell cars ("What's in it? Big stuff. Big, charging, crazy pistons, nutty pistons."). Larry's discomfort with his therapist's choice of swimwear. A disastrous dinner following a charity auction ("Do you mind if I start?").
Or I'll tell you what: Pick an episode, pick a scene. It's funny. Especially if Larry is onscreen.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A+
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: Quality on this set is comparable to the first release, and if you don't know what to expect, you'll probably be disappointed. Because the show is filmed on digital video, the DVDs look rather digital. Colors and blacks are bright but lack depth. Fine detail is decent in close-ups but suffers in long shots and landscapes. There is also some obvious aliasing on hard lines and patterns. That said, I can't really fault the DVD for these problems.
Image Transfer Grade: B
|DS 2.0||English, French||yes|
Audio Transfer Review: This is a basic 2.0 mix that gets the job don't without a lot of flash. Dialogue is always clear from the center channel, and when warranted, music and effect sound fine across the front soundstage, though there aren't a lot of opportunities for panning or directional effects.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 10 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
10 TV Spots/Teasers
Extras Review: Perhaps, after Seinfeld, Larry David grew too enamored with the concept of his show about nothing, because that's exactly what we get in terms of substantive extras for this release. At least one more commentary track, to complement the one on Season One, would have been most welcome.
At least HBO has included it's nice season index feature with episode previews, which makes it easy to find the episode you want to watch (but with only ten to pick from, I doubt that will be much of a problem).
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsLarry David is, hands down, the funniest man on television right now, and thanks to the release of Season Two of Curb Your Enthusiasm, he's also in the running for the title of funniest man on DVD. A more polished, absurd, and flat-out funny collection of episodes, this set is an essential addition to your collection despite the lack of the extras that enhanced Season One.
"I don't think we need HBO. 'It's not TV...' It's TV. What do they think people are watching? You watch it on TV, don't you? You don't go to the movies to see it." -Larry David
Joel Cunningham 2004-06-13