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Curb Your Enthusiasm: "The Rat Dog"

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Last night both Curb and its explicit but incredibly dreary lead-in, Tell Me You Love Me (which, if you haven't been watching, is a show about horrible people having horrible, non-sexy sex, sometimes with sexagenarians) featured funny plot-lines about senior sex: Larry's elderly dad got a happy ending from a masseuse, and the sexagenarian (I'm estimating) therapist on Tell Me You Love Me had sex with her husband in a chair. Coincidence? Yes. But, thankfully, only one of these acts of senior sex was shown in all its wrinkly horror. The "special love" between Larry's dad and the masseuse went mercifully unseen, and was funny-ha-ha instead of funny-nauseating-and-creepy.

Since, in addition to the allusions to an AARP handjob, last night's Curb also featured multiple discussions of "sick sex," a gross-looking rat-dog, and the stomping death of said gross-looking rat-dog, it more than qualifies as a gross-out episode, which means the pattern still holds. This can only mean that someone (besides a rat-dog) dies in next week's death-isode. (I'm hoping for Cheryl.)

Of course, it wasn't all gross-out. Larry went on a date with an exterminator, a situation that was so deliciously absurd, it didn't even feel like a typical Curb contrivance. Cheryl plunged into new, uncharted territories of whiny awfulness. The phrase, "You can't pause toast," was introduced, as was "Topsy-turvy the motherfucker!" There was a phone mix-up (which unfolded well), and several instances of mistaken sign-language insults (which seemed a little too forced, especially the hand-dryer "cocksucker" incident).

The Blacks, namely Loretta and Leon, also played a bigger role in this episode, which was a good change of pace. Loretta, who thus far has been a kind of husk of a character, was finally shown outside of the house, and her chocolate-versus-beige conversation was hilarious (Vivica Fox can be funny in movies and TV shows that don't contain the words "Booty" or "call.") Throughout the season, Leon has become Larry's confidante, and the two playing off of each other is always funny, but it was fun to see him on his own, eating pizza, and casually angering Tim Meadows.

All in all, I'd say that this week's episode was one of the strongest of the season–and not just because there was a callback to "Schmo-hawk."

Grade: A-

Stray Observations:

—So, how long before Larry and Cheryl separate? Or do you think that Larry David will just keep making Cheryl more and more awful as some kind of cathartic post-separation exercise?

—Sometimes the Curb contrivances work, hilariously. Case in point: the over-the-top shock of everyone in the schoolyard when Larry stepped on the spider.

—It's good to see Larry David tackle the reverse of one of the better jokes in Adventures In Babysitting, the rat that is mistaken for an adorable pet.

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