"Curb" Meets "The Marriage Ref"

Plan to add post-episode panel to "Enthusiasm" repeats means more talk – and laughs – about nothing

By Jere Hester
|  Monday, Mar 22, 2010  |  Updated 11:45 PM EDT
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The Seinfeldian Universe is expanding into new realms of nothingness.

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While its reach and appeal have proven vast, the Seinfeldian Universe is ultimately a very small world.

It's a place where the minutiae of seemingly ordinary human interaction and behavior are dissected, laid bare and responded to in off-kilter ways, usually to great comic effect. A cranky soup-making genius is likened to modern history’s most infamous madman. A “double-dipper” is ostracized. The most private of acts becomes fodder for a contest.

It's a universe of expanding nothingness that began two decades ago with Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David's "Seinfeld," took on a more bawdy and curmudgeonly bent with David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," and edged toward gentleness with Seinfeld's new reality/comedy show "The Marriage Ref."

Now we're happily bracing for a collision of planets: repeats of "Curb" set to air on the TV Guide Channel are going to be followed by panel discussions about the episodes, The New York Times reports.

It sounds like a great idea – kind of "Curb" meets "The Marriage Ref." Why not add a post-mortem to a show that's already about excessive autopsying of human interaction and etiquette?

Larry David, playing an exaggerated version of himself, has given viewers plenty to pick apart over the past 70 episodes on HBO. He's rude and is obsessed, with, among other things, race, physical disabilities, food and death.

Over the last decade, he’s insulted an African-American doctor, accused a TV executive of stealing shrimp from a Chinese food container and stolen a golf club from a casket.

Much of this seems like material for the psychiatrist’s couch – except Larry stopped going after seeing his shrink wearing a thong on the beach.

The post-"Curb" panel discussions, expected to run seven-to-10 minutes, The Times reports, will be hosted by comedian Susie Essman, who plays Susie Greene, the volatile, foul-mouthed voice of common sense on the show.

The Times said David would assemble the panels, which could include show business and sports figures, and even rabbis. But it was unclear whether David would be on hand to defend his character’s anti-social actions, which in the past season alone included juggling dates who use wheelchairs, fighting Rosie O’Donnell over who should pay a restaurant check and refusing a piece of pie from Ted Danson.

Some of us go to bars to settle the world. The Seinfeldian approach means hitting the booth at Monk’s Diner, enlisting a panel of celebrities to help arbitrate marital disputes or a ordering up a group discussion on the misadventures of a misanthrope.

And nothing, appropriately enough, is ever straightened out in this world: the Seinfeldian Universe, thankfully, remains a hilariously absurd and unsettling place.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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