Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Fourth Season (2004)
"How about that hygienist? It's like if you go to a prostitute and the prostitute goes around telling everyone you have a small penis. Not that I've ever been to a prostitute. Not that I have a small penis. You know, you plunk down $300 for a prostitute and you expect her to keep her mouth shut."- Larry David
Stars: Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines
Other Stars: Ben Stiller, Mel Brooks, Phillip Baker Hall, Cady Huffman, Christine Taylor, Paul Mazursky, Moon Unit Zappa, Stanley DeSantis, Bob Einstein, Gary Kroeger, James Sikking, David Schwimmer, Jorge Garcia, Ken Howard, Muggsy Bogues, Wanda Sykes, Russell Means, Paul Dooley, Richard Kind, Anne Bancroft, Nathan Lane, Susan Stromam, Gina Gershon, Richard Lewis, Susie Essman
Director: Larry Charles, Robert B. Weide, Bryan Gordon
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, adult themes)
Run Time: 05h:50m:00s
Release Date: 2005-08-30
DVD ReviewIt's not enough that Larry David created one of the most successful series on television (Seinfeld), but it's that he went and actually topped himself by writing and starring in a consistently funnier series where he plays himself. Curb Your Enthusiasm, represented here by all ten episodes of the fourth season, goes once again into darker places than a show like Seinfeld could ever hope to go, thanks in part to the freedom of being on HBO.
Larry doesn't just play someone named Larry David, he's playing himself, the man who created Seinfeld and who lives in Los Angeles where his particularly caustic personality has him constantly up against just about everyone he encounters through a steady onslaught of poorly placed comments and all-around selfishness. Aside from David, the familiar faces are back for the fourth set of eps, including Cheryl Hines as his wife Cheryl and Jeff Garlin as his maritally-challenged pal Jeff, as well as the show's reliance on cameos by other celebs (Mel Brooks, David Schwimmer, Phillip Baker Hall, Ben Stiller) who often play themselves. But this isn't the typical realm of most celeb walk-ons that we've come to expect in most sit-coms, because they exist in Larry David's world naturally, and more often than not in less than favorable light.
Past seasons have carried different story arcs throughout—such as a doomed restaurant opening—and this time the recurring theme is Larry getting a chance to appear in a Broadway production of The Producers after Mel Brooks hears Larry singing at a karaoke bar (in the episode The Offer). This Producers arc rises up periodically throughout Season Four, including one that features an appearance by David Schwimmer, The 5 Wood, taking over a role in the play, all building up to the one-hour season finale where Larry tries to not only overcome performance anxiety but salvage his marriage and recover from "the stink eye" (Opening Night).
Larry David, in that dry, deadpan delivery of his, rarely ever says or does the right thing, but that's the central building block of the show's humor, which plays upon his coarse bluntness to generate all manner of misunderstandings and awkward social situations. Whether it's taking a hooker to a baseball game (The Car Pool Lane) or having a problem with a dental hygienist who blabs about Larry's plaque problem (The Weatherman), the joy in the way each episode unfolds is trying to figure out how Larry's regularly scheduled blunders will dovetail into an even larger problem. And without fail, they do. Balance this with the ad lib nature of all of the dialogue, and each episode has the feel of a documentary rather than a sit-com where we, the viewer, get to be the fly-on-the-wall in his equally charmed and anxiety-ridden life.
As a rule, I'm not a sit-com guy. Television comedy more often than not falls flat for me, coming in somewhere just shy of clever and too forced or shrill to tolerate on a regular basis. By definition, I suppose Curb Your Enthusiasm is a sit-com, but it's really much more than that.
Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: All ten episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1. Though there is quite a bit of fine grain, and colors are not overly bright, it all lends itself to almost a documentary look and feel to the series. Image quality remains decent throughout, with some eps displaying a stronger level of detail than others.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: As with the previous sets, audio is provided in a presentable but frills-free 2.0 mix, with the best sounding part being the HBO logo sequence that precedes each episode. Dialogue remains clear at all times out of the center channel, with minimal directional movement. Simple, but suitable.
A French language 2.0 track is also included.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 50 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Extras Review: No extras whatsoever this time around, save for optional subs in English, French or Spanish.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsThis show makes me laugh hard, out loud, on a regular basis. That's a very rare thing.
Rich Rosell 2005-08-29