Curb Your Enthusiasm S09E03 Recap: 'A Disturbance In The Kitchen'

There are few shows that can get away with high profile guest stars without it seeming like a stunt. So difficult, in fact, that another sitcom returning from a long hiatus this year, Will & Grace, finds it to be a staple of its very existence. Curb Your Enthusiasm has usually pretty successfully navigated these waters, despite often pushing the boundaries a fair bit. The Bill Buckner episode in season 8 comes to mind. But those examples are pretty rare, because Larry David knows exactly what to do with those kinds of high-profile guests. Hell, he boasts what could be considered a stunt casting among his main cast in Ted Danson, to the point where, a few weeks ago, people were frantically googling whether or not Ted and Mary Steenburgen had actually gotten a divorce.

"A Disturbance in the Kitchen" introduces what could be an all-time great celebrity guest star for this show in the form of Elizabeth Banks, a great actress who hasn't shied away from some great comedic performances in the past, and who fits perfectly in the world of Curb. She could have played a fictional character, but it's even better that she plays a sort of self-deprecating version of herself. In the episode, Larry turns to Salman Rushdie, the man whom his "Fatwa!" musical is based on and has lived in a similar situation as him for a long time, for advice on how to deal with the religious hit that was placed on his head in the season premiere. Rushdie tells him to own it, because the inherent danger associated to a man with a Fatwa is like an aphrodisiac to women. Sure enough, Larry ventures out into the wild without his disguise and immediately attracts Elizabeth's attention.

The show hasn't shied away from placing Larry with women out of his league in the past. Lucy Lawless, another celebrity cameo that straddles that stunt line, comes to mind. But Banks is different, because she seems game with anything that Larry David drops in her lap. She's self-deprecating, she's sort of a dumb version of herself, and she sells the idea of Rushdie's Fatwa aura. There's a hilarious scene at the end of the episode where she purposely acts poorly in relaying a story to the police officer's whose car she and Lvid damage (which itself is another great scene). While this seems like one of those one-and-done deals, I hope we somehow get to see more of the fictional Elizabeth Banks.

And "Kitchen" is full of great guest stars, not only high profile ones like Banks, and the aforementioned and necessary Salman Rushdie appearance, but also bit-part players, another thing that Curb has been great at casting over the years. Rich Fulcher portrays a feckless restaurant manager who can't give a straight answer to anyone. Usually it's his patrons in describing what happened in the kitchen to delay the food, but the apotheosis of this joke is when he has to be vague and meandering to the cop that's looking for Lvid.

That cop, by the way, is portrayed by Damon Wayans Jr., who is kind of great as a fictional comedic cop (you might remember him from the film Let's Be Cops, but probably not, because I think I'm the only person who liked that movie). His character, Officer Jenkins, is first seen when Larry honks him at a green light. He's in Ted Danson's Tesla and hasn't yet figured out the nuances of its horn, so the officer protests Larry's loud beeping and writes him up. We later see him when he brings home Susie's "little sister", at which point Lvid damages his car. (there's also 9/11 liar Steve Rannazzissi, who plays the chef at the restaurant and gets into a pretty great confrontation with Lvid, but he's experienced in doing that after seven seasons on The League, which I often affectionately referred to as low-rent Curb over the years).

I'm spending a lot of time talking about the guests on this week's Curb, because they play a large role in what makes the episode great, which may kind of contradict my entire point, but there is truly a great episode here, tackling a lot of new Curb-like social issues and pushing the Fatwa story forward. "A Disturbance in the Kitchen" gets 9 warm pocket candies out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • Prettay Good Count: this is only the second time Larry's dropped one this season
  • Larry Tackling The Issues Of Today:
    • What quantifies a disturbance vs. a hiccup>
    • Couple nicknames
    • A follow-up on the pickle jar hero
    • The subtleties of a horn beep.
    • Beeping a cop
    • Yoo-hoo-ing a judge
    • Mumbling
    • The appeal of the dangerous man
    • The mindshare of things you're looking for
    • Specificity as the cornerstone of a good lie
  • Jeff on Larry's disguise: "So this is really hard to look at."
  • Larry to the manager: "Thank you, I’m really glad you thought it was a good question because it was a really shit answer."
  • Salman Rushdie on the Fatwa: "It’s there, but fuck it"
  • Jeff on Larry's mindshare: "Where’s my cubs hat in this scenario?"
  • "Without our freedom to beep we are no better than the beasts in the field."
  • "Let the record show I had a good time in the well."