7.5 Denise Handicapped
What a difference a week makes. If last week’s episode had left me amused yet frustrated, this one had all the elements that mark out Curb as the funniest programme on the box when it gets things right.
Last week’s lack of a central plot left us with a bunch of very funny gags all crammed together in the one episode. This week benefited from having a clear main story surrounding the further dating exploits of Larry. It also cleverly touched upon the preconceptions people have about others and continued this series’ distinctly non-PC approach.
Denise Handicapped or Wendy Wheels? That was the decision Larry was left with at the end of the episode as his romantic escapades led to two separate encounters with women in wheelchairs (or wheelies, as Larry preferred). The reason behind the names is because Larry always marks down attributes of people in his Blackberry in order to remember them, as does Leon, so it turns out (you’ll find one ‘Nasty Bigtits’ among his phone contacts).
Can I just say at this point, how good it is to see Leon back. I think he should be handed a cameo in every episode as his frank views on life are just hilarious. Take his response to Larry’s bemusement at how Denise didn’t react in the bedroom as he would have liked. “You did your dizzle on her, right?” That’s pretty much the only part of the conversation I can include here, as the rest is so vulgar it doesn’t bear repeating. It was, however, downright genius from the always-excellent J. B. Smoove.
Back to the episode and Larry’s dilemma, or rather how he got into this mess in the first place and we come to why the episode worked as well as it did. This was at its core about making the wrong assumption. Larry spies a nice woman in a coffee shop, starts talking to her, gets her number, realises she’s in a wheelchair, then wishes he hadn’t. Larry David is more of an utter bastard in this episode than in any other series of Curb I have ever watched, the impression being that since Cheryl has left him he has simply lost all sense of social decorum. That he even debated not following through with the date was despicable, but very Larry David all the same.
That first date doesn’t end so well as Larry finds himself at the wrong end of the sexual healing spectrum, with some nicely played out visual gags along the way. Then to the second of the episode’s really big gags when Larry decides it’s time to break up, which all changes once he realises how Denise is being treated favourably because of the wheelchair. All of a sudden, tables are made available in crowded restaurants and all sorts of favours are being thrown their way, including an ill-judged pie from Ted Danson that leads to one of the now customary face-offs between Danson and David. Very funny it was, too.
Now Larry has time for a second and even a third date and it’s all going well, until Susie throws away Larry’s Blackberry into the ocean for failing to look after daughter Sammy at the beach. This leads to Larry’s encounter with Wendy Wheelchair and the finale in which Larry is accosted by both women at a private concert until he takes the easy way out on the stairs.
Step in, Rosie O’Donnell.
O Donnell took a great part in an earlier series when Larry was going through his ‘friend o’ lesbian’ stage and it was great to see her back here as she is a credit to the show. Her primary role here was to play out the episode’s subplot, with her and Larry fighting over who should pay the bill, leading to her claims that she kicked his ass. Larry’s protests look somewhat hollow by the show’s end when she does her duty by the women and promptly bounds up the stairs after him.
The writing in this week’s episode was some of the strongest I’ve witnessed since the show’s golden era of series two and three. The main plot was strong and well executed, the subplots worked well within that and the acting from all concerned was top notch. The cameos worked a treat, too and Larry’s own petty quibbles and ponderings on the world around him were used to great effect.
This needed to be good to wipe out the memory of last week’s so-so offering. In the end, it was one of the very best episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm I have seen.
Next week the Seinfeld crew are back. I sense a David-Alexander quarrel brewing.
Read our review of episode 4 here.