Page N – Abbott and Costello, meet Jerry and Larry 11/24/2009

Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld yuck it up on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” (HBO)

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, Nov. 24, 2009 — The so-called “reunion” of “Seinfeld” on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” was nothing short of perfect.  It was also the most unusual reunion ever staged.  Here’s why it worked so well:

It worked within the confines of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” which is, after all, the show for which it was produced.  Anyone expecting “Curb Your Enthusiasm” to be overtaken and consumed by a new episode of “Seinfeld” was bound to be disappointed.

I read one critic’s take on the reunion in which the columnist complained he was “dissatisfied” with the reunion, that it wasn’t meaty enough.  Maybe he was expecting some sort of full-fledged finale or something, like an entire hour chock full of gratuitous walk-ons from the likes of Tim Whatley, Jackie Chiles or Mickey Abbott.  (Note: Norman Brenner, ubiquitous red-haired walk-on extra from numerous episodes of “Seinfeld,” was visible once again this past Sunday, with white hair this time, however.)

However, the way it was done was much more creative than that.  For one thing, the only reason this “reunion” was contrived at all was to serve as the foundation for a storyline on “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”  It was never meant to serve as some sort of reunion “event” of the sort the broadcast networks traffic in when, say, the aging stars of “The Andy Griffith Show” or “Designing Women” get together to reminisce.

All told, the “Seinfeld” reunion “episode” – or at least the portions that made it into Sunday’s season finale of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” on HBO — was actually pretty brief.  And yet, when you added it to what we had already observed, in rehearsal sequences shown in previous episodes, you knew all you needed to know about the episode in order to recognize it as vintage “Seinfeld.”

In fact, after watching the “Seinfeld” portion of “Curb” – with its commentaries on Blackberrys and “killer apps” — someone else observed how much we have missed “Seinfeld” for these 11 years for its uncanny ability to put our life and times in perspective.

And the second reason, which is perhaps more important than the first: We got a chance to see Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld in action, on TV, together.  The truth is, the reunion of Larry and Jerry was even more fascinating and entertaining than the reassembly of the “Seinfeld” cast.  The scenes in which Larry and Jerry discoursed on trivial matters – such as the seating arrangements in a diner booth – were the best scenes in this entire season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

In a way, it was the most unusual reunion in the history of TV reunions: The two guys who co-created “Seinfeld,” one of the best-loved shows ever produced, but who were never actually seen together on that show (Larry’s occasional background cameos don’t count), “reuniting” for another show in which they are seen for the very first time working together, hilariously, like some sort of 21st century version of Abbott and Costello.  Their comedy was so funny it was jaw-dropping.  Their reunion represented a special moment in television history, and one we’re not likely to see again.

Contact Adam Buckman: AdamBuckman14@gmail.com

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