It wasn’t until its third season, when it aired following new episodes of “The Sopranos,” that “Curb Your Enthusiasm” gained mainstream recognition. That slow ramp-up makes the availability of the show’s first 10 episodes a little more valuable than the standard TV-on-DVD release. The convenience of the format means longtime fans can pop in favorite segs at will, while latecomers have a chance to catch up. However, aside from the essential 1999 mockumentary special that launched the series, the extra material is fairly insubstantial.
As a series, “Curb” revolves around David, making the “Seinfeld” creator’s involvement in the DVD essential but it’s a mixed blessing that he is on hand for the two-disc set’s modest special features. The comedian’s notoriously neurotic disposition is something of a hurdle to providing much depth.
Still, what is lacking in probing behind-the-scenes content is more than made up for in Larry David humor.
David starts off the set’s lone commentary track, for pilot episode “The Pants Tent,” by noting his involvement comes “under duress.” Joining him are co-stars Jeff Garlin and Cheryl Hines (happily declaring she “couldn’t care less” about being there) as well as helmer Robert Weide.There’s a feeling that these are four friends and co-workers more interested in enjoying what they’ve created than providing listeners with illuminating insights. However, we do find out the origins of the show’s handheld camera style, an explanation as to why Larry and Cheryl have no children and the surprising revelation that Garlin was recovering from a stroke when the show started production.
Weide also observes that the real David is “a much kinder man than people would think.” At the end of the track David offers an apology to listeners, deadpanning, “I’m sure most of you are disappointed and I can understand why.”
David addresses the creative freedom provided by HBO in the DVD’s other exclusive bonus feature: a half-hour interview conducted by Bob Costas (who hosts his own HBO gabber, “On the Record”).
The interview overlaps with the commentary in a few areas (e.g., Larry’s offscreen friendship with Richard Lewis) and overdoses on clips from various episodes. Still, there are a few interesting observations. The show’s improv technique is discussed and David declares that the Larry David of “Curb” is closer to his true self than his offscreen persona.