Some of the funniest moments in this episode came from Jerry Seinfeld, who had a lot of great lines regarding Jason Alexander’s pretentious book, Acting Without Acting — kudos to Alexander for being such a good sport with this depiction of himself. I especially loved when Jerry and Larry noted how short the book was, and when they then discussed the title, Jerry remarked, «If you’re not going to act, there’s not much more to say.» And Jerry’s callback on when people use the term «having said that» was definitely the strongest of several times it was used during the episode, after he brought up the dubious title to Jason, but then added, «Having said that, I think this is a terrific title.» Another great Seinfeld moment occurred late in the episode, after Jason quit the reunion and Larry offered to take over the part of George. Jerry pointed out that you can’t replace a part of «iconic television» and then proceeded to point at Julia, Michael Richards and finally himself, declaring, «Icon, icon, icon!»

So what went wrong here? Well, a couple of things. As mentioned above, none of the show’s big comic plotlines, including the one about Mocha Joe, really stood out as a Curb highlight, but rather just amusing diversions. Meanwhile, the real focus of the finale was on Larry wanting to get Cheryl back, which was hindered by the lack of a strong comic foundation. At one point in the episode, when Larry thought he’d lost his chance with Cheryl, he rewrote the Seinfeld finale so George doesn’t get his wife back, saying it wasn’t the tone of the show. Jerry and the rest of the cast defending the first ending was obviously a bit of meta commentary on Larry David deciding to give Curb itself a relatively sweet season ender, but he didn’t need to. I don’t think that fans of this show are unwilling to accept seeing Larry get a happy ending – I just wished it was couched in something funnier than this. The Season 6 finale certainly had a happy ending, as Larry and Loretta found love, but it was also hysterical.

A good chunk of the comedy in HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm comes from Larry David’s reaction shots, and I’m happy to report that season 6 is dotingly dedicated to close-ups of David’s face. Call it the Looks of Larry: There’s the appreciative, chuckly grin he gets when Jeff Garlin — who plays his manager — rumbles through one of his progressively outrageous riffs. There’s that wrinkled-nose look of disgust he wears when someone breaks one of the many »unwritten rules of society» he holds so dear. And then there’s the eyebrows-raised, whatcha gonna do? look of contrition when he acts like an idiot himself. David’s reaction shots are much more than parsley sprigs of comedy — they’re often essential to the gag.

That’s not to say that this season — which, as always, revolves around David playing an outsize version of his L.A.-writer self, with Cheryl Hines as his chagrined, game wife — isn’t funny in its own right. I defy the naysayers who claim Curb is in a rut: Who cares if it’s not reinventing itself? It has become one of the most reliably amusing comedies on TV, taking little annoyances, indignities, and offenses, and worrying at them until they bubble into fantastically overblown debacles. This season sees Curb reining in the complete ludicrousness of season 5 — which was laughable but not always satisfyingly laughable — and returning to its more nitpicky, Seinfeldian roots. The show blasts people who demand too many ice cream samples (moderately irritating), malfeasants who don’t correct dry cleaning mix-ups (solidly exasperating), and guests who leave evidence of self-pleasure on their hosts’ bedspreads (wonderfully, wonderfully wrong). Curb is at its sharpest when Larry tries to articulate his particular secret codes of conduct, actually making a case for why it’s acceptable to steal a few bouquets from an overflowing memorial but rude to donate money anonymously.

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