Right off the bat, something feels slightly off about the long-overdue seventh season of Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. Sick in bed, Larry’s new girlfriend, Loretta Black (Vivica A. Fox), waits impatiently for him to bring her soup, and once he arrives the moment soon devolves into a bickering match about adequate room temperature settings (Larry likes 68 degrees, Loretta prefers 75). Loretta’s brother, who, along with the rest of the Black family, also happens to be staying at Larry’s place, chimes in, backing up Loretta’s much warmer, preferred temperature. The petty disagreement would normally lead to large belly laughs (Larry being pitted against the rest of the supporting players is the show’s classic, comical trademark), and while Curb has never been a show in which stories wrap up tidily, the protraction of the Black family storyline over the course of the first two episodes of the season proves to be surprisingly unfunny.
Curb, a show dependent on the slight misunderstandings and misfortunes that engulf Mr. David’s daily life to mine comedy gold, seems to have mostly run out of gas, struggling to find fresh confrontations for its neurotic protagonist to squirm through. Luckily, when the primary plotline of the new season picks up in the third episode, involving a Seinfeld cast reunion, Curb begins to show signs of life, mainly due to Jerry Seinfeld, Julie Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards, who will reportedly be sticking around for most of the season. One wonders why this episode was not slotted as the season premiere, and the Black family subplot abandoned altogether.
An obvious missing ingredient remains the wonderful counterpoint provided by Larry’s calm, cool, and collected ex-wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines). Her patient, understanding character provided a balance to Larry’s man-child throughout past seasons, and while she pops up sporadically in the initial episodes of season seven, the couple’s constant back and forth is sorely lacking here. Hopefully, Cheryl’s potential casting in the Seinfeld reunion show (she’s now an actress) will bring her back into Larry’s world permanently, which is exactly where she belongs. As it stands, the seventh, and possibly last, season of Curb, known for equal parts splendid absurdity and dry humor, runs the risk of ending on a mediocre note.