As far as wigs go, Larry David has worn worse over the course of eight-plus seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Who can forget his angelic, center-parted piece from season-five finale “The End”? Or his tufted toupee while portraying a stereotypical Martin Scorsese mafia heavy in season three’s “The Special Section”? But his disguise toward the end of “Foisted!” — a side-swept pate-covering-and-mustache combo that’s far more Marxian than unassuming — is something his young friend Greg from Curb’s season-eight finale may have deemed particularly fierce. It’s not out of the question that Greg, then an elementary-aged Project Runway acolyte, could reappear in season nine as a fashionable teen. Perhaps his return will overlap with Sammi Green’s impending wedding, assuming Larry can attend now that the Ayatollah declared a fatwa on him (and that this somehow doesn’t dovetail disastrously with Sammi’s fiancé being an Afghan war vet).
About that clerically pronounced bounty on L.D.’s bald head: He committed the minor offense of promoting his new, bluntly titled musical, Fatwa! (because everything must have an exclamation point these days) on Jimmy Kimmel Live! (see?) by taking jabs at Iranian religious leaders’ habit of denunciating. And real-life Larry, in turn, has chosen the most incendiary metaphor possible for mounting his defense about the unassailable essence of comedy. It is, as onscreen-persona Larry reasons, a slightly more volatile matter than whether he was out of bounds by making light of Richard Lewis’s dead parakeet.
Lewis, naturally, gets the last laugh, turning his best frenemy’s flippancy back at him in his time of mortal panic. And Lewis may have had the premiere’s most LOL-worthy punch line, period, noting that he doesn’t “live in a Cuban dance hall” as Larry mockingly rattled off exotic birds more worth mourning than a parakeet. Though Ted Danson fans could make a case that their man — fresh off separating from Mary, say it ain’t so — made the most of his brief appearance, coolly remarking, “Oh, thank God, I think Jeff’s looking for you” upon quickly tiring of Larry being Larry.
There is a conversation worth having in the wake of “Foisted!” about whether even Curb diehards will grow weary of Larry being Larry, six years on from the show’s season-eight bow and nearly two decades past its 1999 pilot movie. In all, it’s hard to tell whether the bulk of “Foisted!” is meant to lull us into the familiar with bits about Larry busting up lesbian weddings (doesn’t everyone know lesbians love Larry David?); socially terrorizing his latest unchallenged assistant (Carrie Brownstein, very funny as Mara, even if there’s plenty of thread left to pull on the “her uncle fucked her” aside); losing the war against stubborn plastic packaging; and calling on catchphrases before the final fatwa twist. Throughout, Larry, while still perfectly fit at 70 (as evidenced by a pair of literally steamy shower scenes), rants and rages at a stammering pitch and pace reminiscent of his heightened Orthodox apery in season five.
It would be prudent to assume we can split the difference: The first 30 minutes of “Foisted!” are like a runway leading up to the new season. With Mara out of his hair (for now), Leon has managed to ingratiate himself into Larry’s professional life as her replacement (“Larry David’s office, what the fuck is up?” should prove a popular outgoing voice-mail message). Cheryl is back in the mix raising money for victims of female genital mutilation and, perhaps, to demonstrate some unresolved feelings now that his fate is in untold millions’ hands (lucky for Larry, 2017-era DVR tech is far more refined than first-generation TiVo). And Susie and Jeff are ever closer to filling their niche as Curb’s answer to Frank and Estelle Costanza, with Larry as both Kramer-like accomplice and George-esque codependent. Although most reassuringly, Larry remains a righteous advocate for unchecked norms (constipation is a pretty weak excuse for getting backed up at work, and a door left ajar is a glorified welcome mat) and intrusive know-it-all (his insinuation into Betty and Numa’s business was ill-advised by any standard), who’s still learning on the job of being alive. Though apparently, that might be the death of him.
Apart From All That
• Hats off to Julie Goldman for holding her own as Betty.
• Soap’s On has to be better than Susie’s sweaters.
• Seriously, I cannot wait for Sammi’s wedding.
• How dare Betty suggest Larry isn’t part of the bald community.
• So, why did that haircut cost Larry double, exactly?
•Hard to know what’s funnier: Larry telling Leon he loves him, or to “put the fucking thing back, you asshole.”
• Nice deadpan from Office regular Andy Buckley: “The FBI takes this very seriously, but it’s nothing that you really need to worry about.”
• Love how Jeff and Larry (per their office posters for Dixiana and the Italian release of Breakfast at Tiffany’s) are both old Hollywood lovers in earnest.
• Well, also per Larry’s love of ditties and show tunes.