It's been two years since viewers have been treated to new episodes of Larry David's contentious sitcom "Curb Your Enthusiasm," but there should be no worries about him losing his edge, or his edginess. David is back to his usual quarrelsome self in "Curb's" seventh season return to HBO tonight.
Though the show has been on hiatus since 2007, the time lapse on screen will be much shorter. In fact, things seem to pick up pretty much where season six left off. Larry and Cheryl are divorced, Larry is in a relationship with Loretta Black, played by Vivica A. Fox, and the entire Black family is still living in Larry's house. But it shouldn't surprise you to learn that Larry's growing pret-tay, pre-tay, pre-tay tired of them.
Mostly because they like to keep the house too warm. So Larry wants out.
The reason Larry's squirming is because, edging into sitcom taboo, Loretta may have cancer. Hence, Larry's first moral dilemma of the season: He wants to dump his girlfriend, but what if she has cancer? You don't break up with someone who has cancer! (Well, not unless you're Elliott on "thirtysomething.)" Even Larry can't stoop that low.
And perhaps channeling Sal from Spike Lee's sweltering "Do the Right Thing," Larry's time in the overly-warm house has his propensity for outrage at hairtrigger sensitivity in the opener. He goes from zero to sixty when Loretta's doctor takes a beverage from his fridge without asking, and two minutes later goes off on Funkhouser when he takes Larry up on an insincere offer involving Funkhouser's crazy sister (played by Catherine O'Hara).
Get ready for violent debates on removing liquids vs. solids from refrigerators, and the sanctity of the empty gesture.
But even if the lightning fast outrage seems a teeny bit forced in the first episode, it's still consistently funnier than anything else on television. And the episode arcs around nicely at the end, in that customary and hilarious "Curb" way.
And even better is the second episode of the season, featuring Sharon Lawrence as a physician whom Larry and Loretta suspect of engaging in some lascivious and unsafe driving practices. Her final scene in the episode had me laughing out loud.
But it's the third episode that has everyone talking: The Seinfeld Reunion. That story arc will take place over the course of several episodes, as Larry works to get the gang back together for an NBC reunion, all so that he can win back his ex-wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines) .
David, the co-creator of "Seinfeld," has always been against the idea of a "Seinfeld" reunion, but says the "faux reunion" on "Curb" is the only way it could ever really happen. And he's right. It's the non-reunion reunion, and it works.
Incidentally, some of the funniest moments from his scenes with the main "Seinfeld" actors (Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards) are when David pitches premises from his own life for the George character, only to have Alexander dismiss them as too pathetic. The George character is the one most closely modeled after David, and it's clear that Larry David (at least the "Curb" Larry David) takes offense that Alexander considers George such a loser. Alexander also shares some pretty harsh (and funny) opinions about the "Seinfeld" finale.
And speaking of Kramer (okay, we weren't), David has said that the show addresses in an upcoming episode the incident in which Richards verbally accosted a black man in a night club in West Hollywood in 2006.
He gave no details, but Lord I hope it involves Leon.
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" airs Sunday nights on HBO at 9pm.