InsidePulse DVD Review – Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Fifth Season

Created by:
Larry David

Starring:
Larry David …. Larry David
Cheryl Hines …. Cheryl David
Jeff Garlin …. Jeff Greene
Susie Essman …. Susie Greene
Richard Lewis …. Richard Lewis

Studio: HBO Home Video.
Release Date: August 1, 2006.
Number of Discs: 2.
Number of Episodes: 10.
Running Time: 315 minutes.
MSRP: $39.98.

The Show


Television, whether people want to admit it or not, took a serious nose dive around the year 2000. With reality shows running rampant, sitcoms and other scripted shows were losing their audience, and eventually their time slot, to people who would eat live cockroaches just to be on national TV. Now in 2006 shows like My Name is Earl, The Office, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are finally bringing scripted entertainment back to the forefront. If you had premium cable during that time however, you had shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm to hold you over during that dark period where there was nothing on to watch if you weren’t bitten by the reality bug. And now with the advent of TV on DVD, many who missed out on the show are finally coming around and seeing what they missed.

If you were asked ten years ago who Larry David was, chances are that you wouldn’t have an answer. Because while he was the co-creator of what is arguably one of TVs greatest sitcoms – Seinfeld – he remained behind the camera for the majority of his tenure there (with the exception of one very short on screen role). Yet strangely enough, if you watched the show then chances are that you’ve seen, or rather heard, Larry many times before. Because he was the man who voiced George Steinbrenner – the owner of the Yankees – on the show. He wound up leaving the series after seven seasons and would later return to help write the series finale.

When Seinfeld went off the air everyone involved took a break, but not Larry, in 1999 he began working on his stand-up routine again, and when he started telling everyone about it they all seemed to agree that he should document it. But Larry didn’t like the idea of the behind the scenes stuff that we always see in these types of things. So he went to work on an idea, and what he came out with was a single piece of paper with a list of scenes and some small notes about each one. He would then go and improvise them with close friends and the final product became Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm which aired on HBO as a mocumentary. Larry was so uneasy about the concept that he was contemplating about giving HBO their money back if it bombed. But when the higher ups saw it they knew they needed to turn this in to a series, and so they did.

Curb itself is either a work of pure genius or something that could have easily been a disaster had one piece of the puzzle been missing. The show is shot with a single handheld camera in a mocumentary “reality” style (think Arrested Development), and follows Larry David on his misadventures in life that are usually caused by him saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. The shows themselves were off-the-cuff improvisational, with only an outline that never went past seven pages. The actors would read the outline as if it was a short story and then fill in the blanks with their own imagination and brand of humor. The outcome was something that we’d never seen before and almost instantly cemented a legacy from the very first episode.

Many say that Larry David is who the George Costanza character was based on, and watching Curb progress over the past six of so years, its easy to see the resemblance. Once you look past the fact that both are bald neurotic men in glasses, you soon realize that each are men who can’t quite grasp all the little unspoken rules that they, for some reason, are expected to follow. They’ll go out of their way to avoid doing good things because lord knows, no good deed goes unpunished.

During previous seasons, there were numerous story arcs that would play out over the coarse of each ten episode season. Like for instance in season three when Larry and many close friends decide to open their own high class restaurant, with an open kitchen so patrons could watch their meals be prepared, only the head chef they hired had a horrible case of tourette syndrome. Or in season four where Larry teamed up with David Schwimmer to play the lead role of Max Bialystock in the hit Broadway rendition of The Producers. This season is no different and has two stories that bridge all the episodes, one involves Larry’s close friend Richard Lewis who’s Kidneys are failing and needs a transplant ASAP. Larry discovers that he’s a perfect match and is now trying everything in his power to avoid going under the knife by finding Richard an alternate kidney. Larry also discovers that he might very well be adopted and hires a private investigator to look in to the matter.

And like any other seasons, there are many bumps along the way that include, but are not limited to; adopting a possibly racist dog, having a falling out of sorts with the lesbian community, getting in to an argument with a disabled person over the correct guidelines to the handicapped stall in the men’s room, buying bras for his housekeeper, purchasing some scalped tickets for Temple, inviting a known sex offender over for Sader, befriending the head of the kidney-transplant consortium, and taking a little visit to the Playboy Mansion and has a talk with Hugh Hefner, not to mention the fact that someone keeps stealing his news paper. Just another day in the life of Larry David.

While this fifth season may not live up to the near perfect quality the shows third season had, or the comical antics found in the first two, there is no denying that Curb Your Enthusiasm still manages to reach above and beyond almost every sitcom created since its premiere in 2000. Is this the end of the show? No one knows for sure. But if it’s true, the final episode we get here is one of the best send offs any series could hope for.

The DVD


Video:
(Presented in 1.33:1 Fullscreen)
With a retail price of $40 dollars, and having plenty of room for ten half hour episodes on two dual layer discs, I was expecting a little more from this set than what is presented here. The overall quality is what you would expect for a show shot in the manor Curb is, but, there is still a seemingly noticeable layer of grain with a lack of much definition to textures and fine detail. Those few problems aside, the show looks perfectly fine for its concept, and appears to be the way in which it was expected to be seen.

Audio:
(English & French Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
Outside of the shows musical score there isn’t much to talk about here. You can hear Larry question everything that doesn’t fit in with how he sees things crystal clear through all the speakers. And there is no distortion during the uncomfortable silences.

Extras:

The History of Curb… So Far (29:33) – Here we have a very well put together overview of the series and why it works. The cast go over all the things that make up the show and discuss why they’re so open to discuss subjects in the show that many dare not attempt to bring up like race, religion, and the disabled. They share the origins of the show and how it all started with Larry wanting to get back in to stand-up which later lead to his HBO special which in turn lead to Curb Your Enthusiasm being picked up as a series. How the shows are put together is another thing brushed upon, where they talk about the improvisation and its unconventional style. This is the exact type of series overview that one would hope to get for a show like Curb, too bad it’s all edited down to the bare essential, though.

The History of Curb… Even Further (24:12) – I’m not sure when they chose to make this a second featurette when they could have easily edited the two of these together in to one nice hour long piece instead. What’s talked about is very similar to the previous piece, they talk a little more about the outlines written for the show and the method in which the episodes are shot. A new thing mentioned here is how they edit together the show from hours and hours of material. After all, the show is improvisational and they have dozens and dozens of takes that are all different from the next. Which leads to what I’m sure is a very tough decision of picking the best take that fits the shows theme. Larry Charles mentions that he wanted to add some of the edited footage to the DVD sets but Larry David said no, and that if it’s cut out then he doesn’t want anyone to ever see it. The second half is mainly the cast and previous guest stars like Wanda Sykes, Jason Alexander, and Chris Williams (Krazee-Eyez Killa) where they share their favorite scenes and episodes from the shows five season run. They end talking about the fan reactions to the show and how proud they are to be a part of something so wonderful.

InsidePulse’s Ratings for Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Fifth Season
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE SHOW

8
THE VIDEO

7
THE AUDIO

6
THE EXTRAS

6
REPLAY VALUE

8
OVERALL
7
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

Loading...