Splitsider

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap: "Car Periscope"

This week's Curb sees Larry trying to better himself in more ways than one — working with a personal trainer (30 Rock's Cheyenne Jackson) to better his physical health and possibly deepening his pockets through an investment opportunity from a forward-thinking inventor. The invention in question is the titular “car periscope,” a device that’s too wacky to actually exist but seems like it could be practical in the real world. In all fairness, the car periscope did look like a lot of fun. If Larry, Jeff, and Susie’s extreme excitement over the periscope are any indication of the real life enjoyment one would feel while using one, then I’d order a caseful of them right now. I haven’t been as thrilled as those three were in the car since the last time I was in a toy store and of the proper age to find a toy store exhilarating.

At Larry and Jeff’s meeting with Ira, the car periscope’s creator, they’re skeptical about whether they’re being ripped off or not. Larry theorizes that Ira could be a part of an elaborate con game a la The Sting* until he meets Ira’s wife, Gabby. Gabby, is a full-figured woman, and Larry and Jeff both accept that Ira’s on the up-and-up because he must not be a superficial man to be married to someone who isn’t as good-looking as he is (a judgment that’s a little superficial on their parts).

*Which Jeff hasn’t seen. He’s only seen The Sting II, and as Larry puts it, he’s probably the only person to have seen Sting II and not The Sting.

At a party hosted by Henry, one of the myriad of forgettable friends and acquaintances that seem to pass through Larry and Jeff’s lives on a day-to-day basis, Larry stops by to say hello to the Henry’s dementia-laden father, Judge Carter Horn. Horn is the former host of a popular courtroom show, but just because he’s hung up his robes doesn’t mean he’s given up on judging people. Horn spits out several outdated racial epithets that make Louis C.K.’s great-aunt from that Louie episode earlier this season seem if not tolerant, then at least modern.

Larry is asked to sub in for a Scrabble game against Judge Horn by a one-armed man in a maintenance worker’s outfit, who was in the midst of a match with him. Henry drops by before Larry begins playing and sees on the score sheet that the one-armed man was decimating Judge Horn at Scrabble. Henry accuses Larry of taking advantage of his father. When Larry explains that the one-armed man was the actual Scrabble bully, Henry doesn’t believe him and says there was no one-armed man in attendance at the party. Henry angrily kicks Larry out of his home.

By lying about who he’s dating and agreeing to another game of Scrabble with Judge Horn, Larry is able to patch things up with Henry. Larry even manages to reap some benefits from his association with the bigoted former TV judge by asking him to moderate a disagreement between himself and old foe Wanda Sykes over who gets their desired timeslot with a personal trainer (knowing full well that Horn’s racial bias will tilt things in his favor).

Larry goes out to a movie with Ira the inventor and wife Gabby, but he accidentally reveals that the reason he thinks Ira is such a good guy is that he’s dating someone who’s less attractive than himself. Gabby attacks Larry, leaving him in an arm sling. When Larry has one of those implausible Curb bump-ins with both the one-armed man and Judge Horn at the same time**, the one-armed man pushes Judge Horn onto the ground and escapes in a cab. Henry finds his father on the floor moments later. Judge Horn tells him, “The one-armed man pushed me,” leading Henry to believe that broken-armed Larry is the culprit.

**Those who live in big cities know how common it is to run into two different people you know at the same exact place and time.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Larry’s long-held aspirations to be an inventor were pretty amusing, as was Jeff shooting them down every chance he got. I love seeing Larry muse on what other lines of work he thinks he’d be good at, like when he gave being a car salesman a shot in Season 2.
  • I didn’t even recognize Jonathan Ames, who played Larry’s business manager with the attractive wife, until I caught his name in the end credits. As you probably know, Ames is an acclaimed novelist and the creator of another HBO comedy, Bored to Death. The lead character on that show was also named after him.
  • I don’t believe that Larry only has one window of time in the week where he’s free to work with the physical trainer. He’s only in New York to hide out from a charity event, and he doesn’t exactly seem to have a hectic schedule.

Bradford Evans, like most people and unlike Jeff, has seen The Sting and not The Sting II.

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  • Steve14

    How could you not have mentioned the references to the The Fugitive? If not the TV show from the 60's, surely the movie with Harrison Ford. I'm not old enough to have watched the TV show, but it was pretty glaring nod. "The one-armed man did it"!