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Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Premiere: Sicko

It’s been almost two years since we’ve seen a new episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and we don’t think we’re the only ones who suspected the show was coming to an end. Now that it’s back, it seems that little time has passed in the show’s universe. Larry and Loretta Black annoy — but don’t despise — each other; clearly they’re not two years along. (Amusingly, Larry seems to do fine with the rest of the Black family.) But any season that begins with Larry David being yelled at by his girlfriend for making the soup too salty and the room too cold is destined for trouble. Particularly when the girlfriend might have cancer. But, of course, it’s Larry who is miserable — and out of control. And so in a new tradition, we count down the show’s top three most outrageous moments. We are not lacking for material.

3. Wanda Sykes: Psych! Larry runs into Cheryl and Wanda Sykes at a restaurant, where they scored a reservation using his name. Larry learns that Cheryl has broken up with the No Fly Zone underwear salesman and, more important, that she misses Larry. Her main problem with him was that, after Seinfeld ended, he was just around too much. And there you have it: Larry will reunite the cast. Meanwhile, he has to get rid of the Blacks — an eventuality that Wanda Sykes must sense deep down. She sends a fusillade of hilarious, racially charged barbs his way: “How’s it goin’, brother?”; “I put you up for an NAACP Image award!”; “You know Lil Wayne?”

2. Jeff bangs Bam Bam. After having his bluff called on an obviously empty promise, Larry brings Jeff with him to visit with Funkhouser’s crazy sister Bam Bam, played brilliantly by Catherine O’Hara. She’s clearly certifiable, but that doesn’t stop Jeff from having sex with her the minute Larry goes to the fridge to get a sandwich (after, naturally, assailing Loretta’s doctor for taking a lemonade without asking). Later, at his own dinner party, Bam Bam announces that she slept with Jeff. Larry saves the day, saying that she’s crazy and should be sent back to the institution. Everyone agrees. Well played!

1. Larry, running on empty. Even before his chat with Cheryl, Larry was searching for ways to end it with Loretta (and the rest of the Black family). Learning that she might have cancer gives the plan an added urgency, since he needs to dump her before she receives the official diagnosis and endures chemotherapy. (His thought process: It’s better than breaking up with someone who definitely has cancer!) He speeds home in his Prius to beat the doctor to Loretta’s side, but he doesn’t make it in time. The doctor, still smarting over Larry’s attack on him for the taking of the lemonade, gives a litany of responsibilities Larry will now have to take on as Loretta undergoes her treatment over “two to four” years. (In Larry years, that’s eternity.) As empty promises go, that’s a whopper. Now we’ll see how much there is to this promising season.

Photo: Doug Hyun/HBO