Although he's been largely known as the co-creator of "Seinfeld", former stand-up comic Larry David has sort of turned the George Constanza character (apparently based upon himself) into a show that David stars in. Born after a documentary/stand-up performance showcase on HBO, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" stars David as himself, a socially awkward, paranoid, hilariously self-obsessed person who manages to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, then sink ever deeper into his own mistake until the result is almost difficult to watch - yet still claiming himself to be the victim the entire time. A minor mistake, a little moment blown out of proportion, can suddenly snowball into something much more devastasting for David down the road.
In the show, David is joined by a series of characters, including his wife (Cheryl Hines, excellent), manager (Jeff Garlin, very funny) and occasional stars playing themselves, including - this time around - Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer and Mel Brooks. Larry David plays off Stiller and Schwimmer well.
This season has Larry getting picked to star in the Broadway edition of "The Producers" by none other than Mel Brooks. Although the fellow producers think Brooks has made an incredibly bad mistake, he keeps pushing for Larry to be the star. Not surprisingly, Larry can't seem to get along with co-stars Stiller and Schwimmer. Highlights from this season include: "Mel's Offer", where Mel Brooks sees Larry singing at a Karaoke bar and decides to cast him in "The Producers"; "Ben's Birthday Party", where Larry upsets Ben Stiller by refusing to sing him "Happy Birthday" at his party; "5 Wood", where Larry loses his golf club at a funeral; "The Surrogate", where Larry doesn't pass the health test that's required for the Broadway play - not surprisingly, Larry uses the failed test to his advantage, "The Survivor", where Larry finds himself being introduced to a survivor, which turns out to be Colby Donaldson, from the "Survivor" TV show and finally, "Opening Night" has Larry traveling to New York City to start "The Producers".
The show's dialogue is largely ad-libbed, with the actors getting a general outline of the plot and scenes, then going from there. Combined with the often-handheld camerawork, the improvised dialogue feels even more realistic. Cheryl Hines also truly deserves her awards notice for playing David's wife; not only do the two have great chemistry with each other, but she gives depth to a character that could have been one-note, "That's another fine mess you've gotten yourself into, Larry."
"Curb Your Enthusiasm" is a little odd, a little dark and a little mean, but it's also a work of genius throughout many of these 10 episodes. For those who enjoyed "Seinfeld", this takes similar situations much further and makes them feel much more realistic.
31. 4- 1 4 Jan 04 Mel's Offer
32. 4- 2 11 Jan 04 Ben's Birthday Party
33. 4- 3 18 Jan 04 The Blind Date
34. 4- 4 25 Jan 04 The Weatherman
35. 4- 5 1 Feb 04 The 5 Wood
36. 4- 6 8 Feb 04 The Car Pool Lane
37. 4- 7 22 Feb 04 The Surrogate
38. 4- 8 29 Feb 04 Wandering Bear
39. 4- 9 7 Mar 04 The Survivor
40. 4-10 14 Mar 04 Opening Night
VIDEO/AUDIO: "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is once again presented in 1.33:1 full-frame by HBO. The image quality is pretty consistent, with only a few minor issues present on occasion. Sharpness and detail are largely good, with only a hint of softness here-and-there. A little bit of shimmering appears occasionally, but compression artifacts or any other flaws are not spotted. Colors and skin tones remained natural and looked fine throughout, with no flaws.
The show's 2.0 soundtracks have clean/clear music and dialogue, but not a whole lot else. Background sounds in the outdoor scenes are nicely balanced out in the mix.
EXTRAS: Nothing, aside from episode previews.
Final Thoughts: The fourth season of "Curb" continues the show's success, with the plot line regarding David starring in "The Producers" remaining consistently hilarious. The DVD set disappoints in terms of supplements, but audio/video quality is satisfactory. Recommended.