By now, the template of Larry David's HBO series, "Curb Your Enthusiasm," has become so familiar that the ways in which seemingly unconnected events converge and conspire to embarrass him in the end no longer surprise. This in no way, shape or form, however, suggests that the anti-sitcom has lost its coarse, corrosive sense of humor. It still hurts so good.
As the 10-episode seventh season opens, Larry still lives with a black family "? the Black family "? who relocated to L.A. post-Katrina. The matriarch (Vivica A. Fox) remains his girlfriend, but she's grating on his nerves "? admittedly, an easy thing to do. Larry pines for his ex-wife, Cheryl (Cheryl Hines), and plots to win her back by agreeing to do something he swore never to do: Shepherd a "Seinfeld" reunion show, so he can give her a part in it.
With Jerry Seinfeld and the rest of the gang playing themselves, the making of the reunion comprises the continuing arc, culminating in a finale that's as close to an actual reunion as you're going to get. But it's the little things along the way that drive "Curb" to greatness: Larry's agent, Jeff, cheats on his wife with a mental patient (Catherine O'Hara); Larry won't get near Richard Lewis' new girlfriend (Lolita Davidovich) because of an X-rated rumor; Larry kills a swan on the golf course; Larry has to wear women's underwear to save Jeff's marriage; Larry begrudgingly enters into a texting relationship with a 9-year-old girl with a rash on her "¦ well, it's best left unsaid.
The funniest episode comes midway, with "The Bare Midriff," in which Larry and Jerry are unnerved by their female assistant's short shirts, which reveal quite the muffin top. It leads to a laugh-out-loud ending that gives new meaning to the term "love handles."
"Curb" is not for everyone; anyone uncomfortable by its brand of discomfort comedy may not be able to handle the public humiliation Larry consistently undergoes, albeit by his own social ineptitude. For open-minded "Seinfeld" fans who've never made the leap (and want to see behind-the-scenes features on how this plotline came to be), this is the season to jump aboard. Just remember to respect the wood. "?Rod Lott