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Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 11 Episode 5 Review: A Shortcut to the Season’s Valley

There is something special about an excellent standalone episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, even though recent seasons have begun to focus on telling an overarching story. Every episode this season has been directly related to the creation of Larry David’s new show Young Larry in some way. Still, this week’s “IRASSHAIMASE!”, on the other hand, completely disregards said story to present a more straightforward episode that, at the moment at least, has no connection to that story. 

Although it is nice to see a standalone episode of Curb occasionally, “IRASSHAIMASE!” is one of the weakest episodes of the current season. “IRASSHAIMASE! is quite promising from the start, as it has a more specific focus than what the show is used to having. From there, the episode starts to wind up with Larry getting Jeff (Jeff Garlin) to set him up on a date with his friend Gabby McAfee (Julie Bowen), and from there, the story starts to unfold. 

It turns out that Jeff set Gabby up with Hal Berman (Rob Morrow), a man who was known for having sex with his mother-in-law, and the relationship between Gabby and Hal did not work out for unknown reasons. While on his way to the date, Larry borrows a shirt from Freddy Funkhouser (Vince Vaughn) that he will ruin while trying to get rid of the stain when he gets soy sauce on it. It was the date when Larry made enemies with the staff at the restaurant for greeting Gabby with the staff’s greeting of “Irasshaimase!”

David and Bowen’s dinner scene works well. David shows off his charm in a manner that Bowen plays against David’s sense of humor in a very humorous way. I appointed about the entire episode – that it doesn’t try something new and let us spend some time with these two on their first date. It would have been interesting to experiment with the show’s form by devoting an entire half-hour to a Dato, a specific date, and other storylines.

According to my review of last week’s episode of “The Watermelon,” it worked so well not because it could connect all of the storylines like in the episode “Angel Muffin” but because each storyline had its hilarious moment. Unfortunately, the payoff for “IRASHAIMASE!” isn’t quite as great as it could be. I mention that “IRASSHAIMASE!” could’ve been a great way to experiment with the show’s format because this feels like variations we’ve seen. 

After getting talked to at the restaurant, Larry reveals to Gabby that he has been reprimanded at restaurants before. While Curb Your Enthusiasm always finds a new way to tackle Larry’s various problematic restaurant visits, it seems like returning to the same well once more. Even though “IRASSHAIMASE!” Even though “does have some decent payoffs to its storylines, including Hal sabotaging Larry and Gabby’s second date, and Freddy getting revenge on Larry by selling him out at a funeral for destroying his favorite shirt, there are too many storylines in this film that don’t go anywhere or go exactly as we’d like.

In this episode, Larry has to pick up a dress for Susie (Susie Essman). Although the plot does not have a lot of substance for a Curb subplot, it does give Larry a chance to try out his Sherlock Holmes impression of an annoyed Susie. Larry’s confrontation with the restaurant’s host (Sonny Saito) after he tries to retrieve the umbrella that he had forgotten on his date is even more disappointing than Larry’s confrontation with the host of the restaurant. 

The host of Curb Your Enthusiasm decides to return Larry’s umbrella to Larry after noticing it was taken from a hotel. However, anyone who has ever watched an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm will know that the umbrella will be taken from Larry and used by someone else. It’s not a bad storyline, but it doesn’t add much to the episode, and it plays like another tried-and-true idea that we’ve seen before, with slight variations that have not been very interesting.

“IRASSHAIMASE!” is also the first episode this season that was directed by someone other than Jeff Schaffer, as long-time Curb director Robert B. Weide jumped in on this one, as well as someone other than Schaffer and David worked on the story, as Carol Leifer takes up a story credit here. Leifer’s involvement indicates this episode was conceived initially for last season because he was involved in it. As well as this episode, Leifer has written only one other episode of “Star Trek” before: 

“Artificial Fruit” from Season 10. The standalone nature of “IRASSHAIMASE!” seems like it could’ve been made for any other season. This isn’t inherently negative, but its irrelevance to any of the stories we’ve seen so far this season makes this feel like it could be a filler for Season 11.” IRASSHAIMASE!” is not an inferior episode, but compared to the rest of the season, it is undoubtedly a step down from what has come before. 

Curb Your Enthusiasm has been around for a good while now, with eleven seasons over three decades, so it’s only natural that it hits some of the same notes at some point. Still, it’s only natural that it hits some of the same notes at some point, but “IRASSHAIMASE!” starts vital, follows a predictable path, or follows threads that don’t add much to the story. “IRASSHAIMASE!” is less Curb at its peak and more like a shortcut to the valley.


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