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Curb Your Enthusiasm: Enter the Seinfeld

The long-awaited arc with the Seinfeld cast begins, and it’s still all about Larry David. It might have been fun to tweak Jerry, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards a bit more — exaggerating their known traits, maybe giving them some diva moments. (Not even mentioning Richards’s Laugh Factory meltdown is borderline unforgivable — though as some commenters pointed out last week, it’s possible they’re saving that for a run-in with Larry’s roomie, Leon.) Instead, they’re all more or less normal, patient people dealing with the monster that is Larry David. But somehow, the reunion is still on.

In short, Larry decides to go against everything he’s ever believed about reunion shows because of the one thing he actually cares about: getting Cheryl back. He runs into her at NBC headquarters, where she’s auditioning for a role to restart her acting career (which she gave up when she married Larry), and Larry’s grand plan is hatched: Do the Seinfeld reunion, base it around George (Larry’s proxy, of course) trying to win back his ex-wife (not the dead one who licked the poisoned envelopes; a new one), played by Cheryl.

It all goes wrong, of course, because Larry pisses everyone off (with the exception of Jerry, who is incapable of casting himself as anything other than the Reasonable Everyman). He fights with Jason Alexander over the show’s finale and whether or not tips on separate checks should be equal. He questions whether Julia Louis-Dreyfus actually took her daughter to a birthday party when Julia said she couldn’t meet with him. (He most likely avoids a tangle with Michael Richards only because Richards is distracted by the nude art photos hung at the restaurant where they meet.) Finally, he goes to the mat with Sandy Goodman, “head of NBC Entertainment,” after Goodman gives him lousy Lakers tickets. After telling him to go fuck himself, Larry fails to deliver a proper apology, and must diagnose Goodman’s Lyme disease to get the show back on track. (This is the least believable part of the episode: Since when does a network executive sacrifice money over a personality difference?)

This is all really about Larry trying to win back Cheryl, which sets up the season’s first major conflict: Larry promises the role of George’s ex-wife to her, but Jerry doesn’t know that, and offers it to Meg Ryan. Which means Larry’s idea has imploded even before it had a chance to start. Chaos always ensues.

Reportedly, none of the Seinfeld crew will return until episode seven, so this one will have to hold us for a while. Seeing the old set, the old gang, and Larry destroying everything from the get-go — it’s definitely enough to keep our appetites whetted. No one has anything to be embarrassed about. It looks like they’re going to do this right. And terribly, terribly wrong, of course.

Photo: Doug Hyun/ HBO