Two Guys, a Girl and a TV Set

Three college friends out in the world, filling the void with television…and loving it.

Posts Tagged ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

Moltisanti’s Best TV Shows of the Decade

Posted by Christopher Moltisanti on December 31, 2009

1. The Sopranos

The best. Ever.

David Chase’s deeply perceptive realist drama attracted audiences with the promise of mafia intrigue. In reality, however, the mob was a supporting character in this study of modern American family life. It covered immense thematic ground—everything from generational conflict to the power of parents to our inability to cope with death to, well, the elusive meaning of life. Though set in a specific time period, this is a show that makes universal commentary on human nature. Its ideas and characters can be placed in any context at any time throughout history and still be valid. That’s the mark of great art, and that’s why it’s the best show I’ve ever seen.

2. Mad Men

Heavily influenced by The Sopranos, both stylistically and thematically, Mad Men has slightly less ambitious goals. And when I say slightly, I mean it attempts to capture the changing social fabric of America in the 1960s. So, yes, it’s still an ambitious show, and so far, a near-perfect one. Novelistic in its emphasis on specific themes, stylish beyond anything on TV and, like The Sopranos, touched with dark humor, Mad Men is the finest entertainment on television today. It’s already established itself in the pantheon of great television. Depending on how the next few years turn out, it could move even higher.

3. Arrested Development

Arrested Development is the funniest show I’ve ever seen. Its smart rapid-fire comedy was too, well, smart, for a mainstream TV audience, but its style makes it one of the most re-watchable shows I’ve ever seen. Will Arnett made my best actors list, but all the major players here (and the many guest stars) are brilliant. There are too many wonderful plotlines to mention here, but, if you haven’t seen it, go get in on DVD now. You won’t be disappointed.

LD

4. Curb Your Enthusiasm

Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm is a close second to Arrested for “best comedy of the decade” honors. Its dissection of every day annoyances as seen through the eyes of the perceptive (some might say tiresome) David retreads ground from Seinfeld (albeit with edgier plotlines and more vulgarity). The show’s loose, improvised style lets its talented cast shine. Let’s hope David keeps it on the air for at least a few more seasons.

5. Deadwood

David Milch’s Deadwood is about the creation of a civilization—and the compromises, the odd alliances, the brutality, and, sometimes, the human decency that accompany it. Written in a unique, almost Shakespearian style and anchored by several strong performances, Deadwood is a powerful, gritty Western with a lot to say about human motivation.

6. 24

Save for a disastrous sixth season, 24 has been one of the most consistent shows on TV this decade. Season one is arguably the most compelling season of television of all time, and it’s ending proved that the writers were willing to push the envelope of network TV conventions. Six seasons later, the show is still going strong, coming off a series-saving seventh season that proved that it is still the most compelling hour on TV. He may not be the absolute best character, but Jack Bauer will be the defining character of a troubled decade marked by terrorist threats and muddied rules of engagement.

7. Friday Night Lights

FNL is a powerful portrait of middling, average people weighed down by expectations and visions of grandeur. Its plot is the stuff of classic literature — characters with lofty ambitions and dreams operating in an imperfect world muddled by personal flaws, social divisions and tragedy. It’s a show that captures the redemptive power of sports — for both fans and players. So, next time you wonder why people get so invested in athletics, watch this show, and you’ll understand.

8. The Office

The British version is great too, but I’ve only seen a few episodes, so I’m sticking with the one I’m familiar with. Steve Carrell is the reason this show makes the list. Michael Scott does mind-blowing things, but, as Feeney noted, we’re still sympathetic to him. The supporting cast is great as well, and, the show brilliantly captures the drudgery, personal conflicts and politics of office life.

9. Lost

Great characters make Lost a top 10 show

After a scintillating first season, this show went downhill. Not quickly, but steadily. Based on what the writers have been saying about their commitment to getting back to character development in the final season, I’m optimistic about the end of the series. Still, Lost offers lessons to writers and TV execs everywhere. It’s the characters, stupid. Sure, the mysteries of the island made the show that much more addicting, but the series’ ability to craft a handful of deep, compelling and conflicted characters made it a success.

10. The West Wing

Maybe I’m just bitter that it beat The Sopranos at the Emmy’s multiple times, or maybe it’s because I don’t love Aaron Sorkin’s writing style, but I was never enamored with this show. Still, this was a strong series for a long time that gave us a unique inside look into the workings of the White House. It’s a fascinating premise, especially for political observers, and, for the most part, it was a solid show.

P.S. I know, I know. The Wire is missing. Before any of you David Simon acolytes lose your heads, rest assured that I have the DVDs and have started watching it. Based on what I’ve seen so far, it will easily make this list. Once I finish the series, I’ll amend the list and give the show it’s rightful due. So, sorry West Wing, you’ll soon be a goner.

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Denise Handicapped (Curb Your Enthusiasm review)

Posted by Christopher Moltisanti on October 18, 2009

Plot summary: Larry starts dating a handicapped woman and quickly learns to love the social accolades that come his way. This juicy plot, plus a few classic scenes with Rosie O’Donnell and Ted Danson and the long-overdue return of Leon make “Denise Handicapped” one of the season’s high points so far.

Rosie flexes her muscles.

Rosie flexes her muscles.

Best moments:

-Leon’s return: “You did yo dizzle on her?” By the way, I’m pushing for a Leon/Michael Richards scene this season. This needs to happen.

-“Does she have a proclivity for chopsticks?” (Larry to the parents of an adopted Chinese baby)

Top three social commentaries:

-Who pays the bill, the “asker” or the “toucher”? Rosie O’Donnell, who is hilarious here, grabs the check to pay. Larry, who invited her to lunch, sees it as his duty to pay. A wrestling match ensues, and Rosie dominates. Sidenote: How surreal was Rosie’s obsession with Tom Cruise back in the day, and how much more mind-blowing is it now that he’s outed himself as a complete psychopath? This calls for YouTube searches that maybe make a few pitstops at Frank TJ Mackey but always come back to the great scientology interview (I’ll let you find it on your own since I’m terrified of his followers).

-Sand in the sneakers. So true. As Larry says, you wear your shoes on the beach once, you never get the sand out. The shoes are ruined. Larry and Jeff sitting on the beach in long sleeves and pants is a priceless sight in this scene as well.

-The treatment of the handicapped. The best thing about Curb is its ability to shine a light on all the false niceties of society (more specifically, liberal, politically correct LA society). Larry’s a pariah until he starts dating a handicapped women. Suddenly, people fall all over themselves to show their approval and prove their tolerance. And Larry being the insecure, starved-for-attention person he is, revels in it.

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Curb Your Quotable Enthusiasm (S7:E1)

Posted by Mr. Feeny on September 20, 2009

One of the most highly anticipated returning comedies of the year. Actually, probably the most. No sitcom has gotten more press than Curb Your Enthusiasm and its Seinfeld reunion. So how did the first of 10 episodes pan out? And for Curb, the Top 3 is probably usually going to be just discussions of social contracts.

Plot Summary: Larry wants to break up with Loretta. But she’s getting test results back from the doctor. He doesn’t want to be burdened with her illness. So he has a 24-hour window before she gets those results.

Social Constructs Discussed: Resting vs. sleeping, best temperatures for sleeping, making empty promises, taking food from a fridge without asking.

Great Moment: I loved Larry and Cheryl reconnecting. Very sweet. And it showed how difficult life was with Larry’s eccentricities…but how they were still meant for each other.

Weak Decision: I didn’t like that they actually definitely showed Jeff cheating on his wife. It had been assumed before, but now he’s genuinely a scumbag. Funny, but scummy.

Top 3 Jokes/Gags:

  1. A doctor takes a drink out of Larry’s fridge without asking. They get into it about Larry never offering a drink. Then Marty comes in and says “liquids are ok.”
  2. Larry: “You can’t make an empty gesture to a Funkhauser. They take you up on it.” That’s in reference to Larry fake offering to help with Marty’s mentally disabled sister and Jeff offering to help her with her boredom. Larry has to sit with her for two hours, and Jeff has sex with her.
  3. Larry, Leon and Loretta arguing over what temperature is best to sleep in. The great part is the specifics. 68 vs. 75 vs. 82. No leeway.

Grade: B

Posted in Mr. Feeny, Sitcoms | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Hello, Jerry…

Posted by Christopher Moltisanti on September 9, 2009

Last night’s Curb Your Enthusiasm/Seinfeld “reunion” special gave us an all-too-brief taste of the seventh season of, IMO, the best comedy on TV. The mainstays are back (Jeff, Suzie, Cheryl, Ted Danson), the Blacks are back (including one of the greatest comedic characters of all time–that’s right Feeny, I said it–Leon), but there appears to be trouble brewing in Larry’s house.

Most of the 20 or so minute special focused on what’s sure to be the centerpiece of the season: the Seinfeld “reunion.” The old sets were pulled out of archives (though Jerry’s kitchen got a modern makeover), and the original cast reassembled for a “reunion” episode that’s built into the Curb plot.

It’s going to be fun, and knowing Larry, I can almost guarantee we’ll get a Michael Richards/Leon confrontation.

HBO will probably run this thing at least 30 times before the premiere, so stop and watch for a bit if you run across it.

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