“Curb Your Enthusiasm”: Letting Us Eat Cake

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“Curb Your Enthusiasm” kicked off its sixth season tonight with an episode that, for a show that has always treaded a thin line between annoying and uproarious, leaned a bit too much toward the former — if only because so much of the episode was predictable.  There was one gambit involving repeated references to a certain dessert that paid off, but for the most part the premiere was underwhelming. This was no picking up a prostitute to get access to the carpool lane.

During the episode, I wondered if “Curb,” which was groundbreaking in just how far it was willing to stretch the annoyance envelope, has now seen its moment pass. Other shows from “The Office” to “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” risk antagonizing their audience, yet seem fresher in doing so.  In particular, “The Office,” which wears its heart on its sleeve right after sticking a knife in it, seems to shine a light on the limitations of “Curb.”

But maybe tonight simply wasn’t the best “Curb” will have to offer this season – certainly, Larry David and Co. have generated utter masterpieces in the not-too-distant past.  And of course, it only gets harder as a show gets older, and we’ll have to see whether something like “It’s Always Sunny” can keep the pace.

— Jon Weisman

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