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'Curb,' 'Entourage': Two HBO Eighth-Season Shows -- One Improving, One Outrageous
July 22, 2011  | By David Bianculli
 
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Two of HBO's comedy series are now in their eighth seasons: Entourage, which returns Sunday night at 10:30 ET, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, which presents its third episode of its latest go-round Sunday night at 10 ET. Entourage uses the occasion to reshuffle the deck and put all its characters in flux -- but Curb, with Sunday's "Palestinian Chicken" episode, pushes its comedy provocation style to envelope-pushing, jaw-dropping levels...

"Palestinian Chicken" was the first of three eighth-season Curb episodes sent to critics for preview, which means Larry David is proud of, rather than hiding from, the show's intentionally abrasive plot line. Directed by Robert B. Weide, "Palestinian Chicken" revolves around a new restaurant that Larry begins to frequent, even though it's run by anti-Semitic Palestinians.

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One of the restaurant's Palestinian employees, Shara (played abrasively yet seductively by Anne Bedian, right), ends up sleeping with Larry, even though -- and partly because -- she's repulsed by his Jewishness. So Larry, to make the sex even more heated and prolonged, defiantly quotes Jewish scholars during intercourse.

What's the likely reaction to this and other elements in this weekend's Curb? All across the board, no doubt. [To hear a clip, listen to my review on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross by clicking HERE.] But I found it very, very funny -- and more proof that Larry David and company, eight seasons in, are doing anything but coasting.

Entourage, meanwhile, has been coasting for a season or two already. Yet for season eight, with the end in sight as this is its long-announced final season, it's found a way to revitalize itself.

It's a way that more long-running series should emulate -- a trail blazed by Lost, among other series. Instead of prolonging your series by treading water and not moving forward, declare an ending point, then aim for it. With this being the final season, Entourage can plan for, and write for, a sense of closure.

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As a result, every major character finds his status quo thrown into disarray. Movie star Vince (Adrian Grenier) is coming out of rehab after three months, off drugs, without a porn-star girlfriend, and eager to work again. Eric (Kevin Connolly) has split up, again, with Sloan (Emmanuelle Criqui, pictured); Johnny is about to endure some drama with Andrew "Dice" Clay, co-star of his upcoming animated TV comedy; and both Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Ari (Jeremy Piven) are having big problems with their formerly faithful women.

By the third episode of this season, the last one provided for preview, things take a darker turn than Entourage has ever presented. It gives notice that, in this final season, finality is indeed one of the major ingredients. Entourage, its last time around the track, is taking things seriously.

Curb, on the other hand, is being deadly serious, too -- but only about being as funny, and as button-pushing, as ever.

 

1 Comments

 

Rich said:

I really don't know what is happening with "Entourage" - Sunday just a THUD. What are they trying to pull? Yeah, we get it you're being serious and the "Miners Movie" was a cute gag but they really should've just ended it at the end of Season 5. It was a high note.

"Curb" was nothing but Clever, Topical, satiric, and culturally nimble. Clearly someone wants to go out on a High Note - I don't sense that from "Entourage".

Case in point go up to a TV critic or Rabid TV watcher in 2-5 years from now and say "Palastinian Chick place" then say "Johnny goes Bananas" - I think we know which one will be more classic TV...more people will remember Jason Stackhouse's dream about Jessica the Vampire & Hoyt on "True Blood"

[I know I will... - DB]

Comment posted on July 26, 2011 10:05 AM
 
 
 
 
 
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