At the beginning of last night’s penultimate episode of this season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, we see Larry David, from the back, surveying the famous diner from Seinfeld, ready to start the first table read for the big reunion show. It’s a quietly touching shot, the creator of one of the greatest television programs of all time stepping back on the gridiron one more time, a living time capsule. Of course, then Julia Louis-Dreyfus starts asking Larry what acting experience, exactly, his ex-wife (playing George’s ex-wife) has and the chaos ensues.
The episode was at times riotously funny, but mostly, it actually did play like a Seinfeld reunion show, with all our old friends back in their old roles (including Newman, George’s mom, and Kenny Bania, who, to our surprise, IMDb tells us only showed up in six episodes). Jerry, Elaine, and Newman have a fun “Hello, Newman,” moment, George frets and complains, and Kramer hires a hooker for the car-pool lane. It felt like the band was back together, while still being a satire of reunions. It was all we could have asked for ... and we still have one more episode of it.
First, here’s what has apparently happened to our old friends: Elaine has a child, and apparently Jerry provided the sperm. George made millions of dollars from an iPhone application called “iToilet” — which informs users where the closest public toilet is — but lost it all to Bernie Madoff (of course). And Kramer ... well, Kramer still lives down the hall.
The second story, the one with the “real” people living in the “real” world, was just as enjoyable. Larry ends up with a text-message relationship with a 9-year-old girl who has an unfortunate medical condition and might end up putting Larry in jail for child molestation. Jason Alexander and Larry continue their hate-hate relationship. And, most hilariously (and most inevitably), Michael Richards has a run-in with Leon.
It’s not the way you'd expect, though. Richards might have Groat’s disease (not real), and Larry tries to assuage his fears, telling him his friend Dan Duperstein had Groat’s and is now fine. Turns out, Dan Duperstein is dead, so Larry, worried Richards will be too nervous to perform, asks Leon to impersonate Duperstein and let Richards know it’ll be okay. This leads to Leon, dressed as what he thinks a white person dresses like but looking like a member of the Nation of Islam, knocking on Richards's door. He opens it, terrified: “Oh my God, look, it’s been three years, I made a mistake, don’t hurt me! Please!” That’s not all, either. Once Richards realizes he’s been duped, he runs to confront Leon. He starts screaming at him, before realizing that everyone in the area has their cell-phone video cameras pointed directly at him. That’s how you handle the Michael Richards incident, Curb-style.
Next week is the season finale, in which we see the gang officially back together, in costume, on set. We absolutely cannot wait.
James Poniewozik says, “The quality of the writing, combined with the renewed rapport of the actors on the semi-improv Curb, meant that scenes that could have seen [sic] forced or self-congratulatory — like Jerry cracking himself up in the middle of giving his line to Wayne Knight as Newman — seemed entirely natural.”
Alan Sepinwall writes, “There may have been funnier episodes of Curb this season, but none have felt as satisfying on so many levels as "The Table Read." It worked as an episode of Curb. It worked as a quasi-Seinfeld reunion, and as a kind of DVD bonus feature about what life on the Seinfeld set was like. It mixed the two worlds expertly, with Marty Funkhouser making an ass of himself in front of Jerry and Jerry letting him do it, and with Leon finally, inevitably, crossing paths with Michael Richards. And it all left a big smile on my face.”
Amelie Gillette understands that Leon should do DVD commentaries for every program on earth. "Who are these two right here?" "Who is that fat motherfucker?"