Assessing the Emmy Contenders: Curb Your Enthusiasm – “The Bat Mitzvah”

When Emmy released the Top 10 lists of the potential nominees for both comedy and drama series, they took the wind out of my sails in terms of putting up my own predictions. However, their work and the work of Tom O’Neill over at Gold Derby getting the episode submission titles means that interested parties can have their own private screening of the 10 comedy and 10 drama episodes that the blue ribbon panels are viewing this weekend. So, following a suggestion by GoldDerby Forum poster jss0058, I figured I’d offer my thoughts on the submitted episodes in alphabetical order as we approach the July 17th nominations.

First off, two caveats:

  • For the sake of not ruining plot-heavy series, I have no intention of watching the submitted episodes from The Tudors or The Wire. I’m currently on the fence with Flight of the Conchords, but chances are I’ll be fine with it.
  • I probably won’t rewatch some of the episodes that I’ve already reviewed/watched extensively, but I’ll try to at least take a fresh perspective.

And with that out of the way, let’s get onto the first series, Larry David’s improvisational comedy hit that finished off its sixth season late last year.

Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

Episode: “The Bat Mitzvah” (Directed by Larry David)

Synopsis: Larry (Larry David) has a tickle in his anus, and a rumour spreads that it’s the result of a gerbil finding a way into that particular cavity.

My Thoughts: Admittedly, I’ve never actually watched a complete episode of the series before, but this is the position that many panelists may be in as well. For my sake, I laughed a fair bit although I felt that the episode overstayed its welcome (Some people have mentioned finding the ending particularly funny, but I thought it was just derivative of what came before it). I’m used to the traditional length sitcom episode, and this one is over thirty minutes long and just feels repetitive by the end. The episode has a rather humorous trip to the doctor’s office that feels like a tightly constructed little story piece, and the improvised dialogue is sharp in a number of places, but “Larry has a gerbil up his ass” just results in Larry David squirming a lot and giving embarrassing and cringe-worthy speeches at inappropriate locations. I felt like, even as someone who hasn’t watched the show, there was untapped potential here: that these actors (including the almost entirely absent Cheryl Hines, who pops up only at episode’s end) have made better episodes.

Panel Potential: The one thing that is going to give the episode a lot of trouble, however, is that it features not one but two people (including Larry) imitating a mentally handicapped individual. It’s extremely tough to watch, especially when Larry himself is behind it: it takes the gag over the line, and many panel members may remember being offended by that moment more than they remember the humour that came before or after it.

Overall: Voters might fall for the prestige, or guest stars Michael McKean and Richard Lewis, but the questionable content and the tight laugh ratio could make this one a non-starter in the rooms.

Next Up: Boston Legal’s yearly Emmy baitfest, this year focused on the Supreme Court.

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