Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Curb Your Enthusiasm 8.2 'The Safe House'

“I think all – computers – look alike…” – Larry

If the season premiere’s twists and turns were easy to telegraph then ‘The Safe House’ more than made up for that as the second episode of Curb’s eighth season delivered brilliantly hilarious developments round every corner.

The main three storylines in the episode were Larry discovering his, and Leon’s, new home was a couple of doors down from a battered women safe house, Larry thinking a black man had stolen a computer he’d been tasked with watching in a salad bar and Lewis dating a rather buxom burlesque dancer.

In classic Larry David style all three storylines intersected with each other brilliantly in the final act to deliver a very strong all round episode.

I touched on Larry’s new ‘boys club’ a little in my review of the premiere and it was in full force here as Larry, Leon, Jeff & Funkhouser went to Lewis’s girlfriend’s club to see her dance. The banter and dynamic between the male characters on the show has always been a highlight for me so with Larry, and Funkhouser, now divorced season eight should hopefully allow for more of that.

Leon was heavily featured in this episode which is always great and that entire scene in the hospital was note-perfect from start to finish.

Larry, having already argued with Leon about how much Leon knows about Larry’s personal life, deflects the Doctor’s comments about how he got his black eye (asking too many questions of the safe house’s rather butch inhabitant) but in doing so sounds like a stereotypical battered wife would defending her pig of a husband.

Leon then comes over demanding money from Larry and the Doctor assumes Leon has beaten Larry, Leon making the whole thing worse by repeatedly hitting a vending machine in the background as Larry and the Doc talk.

I was literally laughing throughout that entire scene and the way it played in to the episodes theme of middle class white people’s casual racism, as well as the link to the suffering of the women from the safe house, was just great.

As was the cops mistaking the black guy returning the computer to Larry’s house for Leon by saying he matched “the description” of the domestic abuser the Doctor had reported at that address.

Of course, it’s Curb so everything was done for maximum laughs, but even in one of its most brilliant best episodes the show was able to hold a mirror up to some people and hopefully make them rethink the way they treat different races on a daily basis.

The stuff with Lewis’s new girlfriend felt a little old hat if I’m honest – haven’t we seen him only dating a woman for her breasts before!? – but it facilitated that great boys’ night out and Larry proclaiming he had “breast vision” so I’ll let it go. Plus getting Richard Lewis in to any episode is always a welcome surprise, if only just for his and Larry’s unscripted banter.

Larry, for the most part, surprisingly wasn’t that unreasonable in this episode; the women were in the way at the supermarket, the dog was repeatedly fouling on his lawn, it did look as though the guy had stolen the laptop and he was just trying to help out Lewis’s girlfriend, but of course it all came back to bite him in the ass, just not as spectacularly as usual. That unfortunate comeuppance was reserved for Lewis – getting crushed in a freezer by butch Dale at the supermarket and the poor laptop guy getting wrongly arrested for domestic abuse.

I really can’t say enough good things about ‘The Safe House’, in spite of how ridiculous it may seem that anyone would allow Larry David anywhere near a woman’s refuge!

A Hail of Bullets:

- There isn’t usually much to pick out in terms of direction in an episode of Curb but in ‘The Safe House’ director Bryan Gordon had two really great little shots that I loved.

The first was Larry’s reaching hand appearing the freezer behind the two women after they blocked his path to the ice cream, and the second was that great slow-motion shot as Larry and Lewis’s cars passed each other outside the burlesque club – the look on Lewis’s face in particular was priceless.

- I’m a big fan of tying all the threads together at the end of an episode but it did feel a bit contrived to have Lewis end up at the supermarket at the exact time the two women from the safe house were in his way, although I did enjoy the irony that he too was going in to a freezer and he echoed Larry’s comments about Dale looking like she could “take care of herself”. Plus, seeing him with both hands in casts at the end so he couldn’t enjoy his last night with his girlfriend’s breasts was worth the journey to get there.

- “So there be a motherfucker out there cutting titties now?” – I love Leon’s astonishment at certain things most people would already be aware of; his disgust that someone would even reduce the size of a breast was genius.

How J.B. Smoove has not won award after award for his performance as Leon is beyond me; I’m so glad that he is inexplicably still living with Larry after all this time.

- So many good lines in this episode but I really got a kick out of the exchange between Larry and the “Marm” from the safe house, when Larry remarked “maybe I could drum up a date over there” after being invited to meet the women and the response from the “Marm”: “let’s remember boundaries”.

Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 8 continues in the UK Sunday @ 11.10pm on More4


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