By Eric Kohn | Eric Kohn July 7, 2011 at 7:58AM
Larry David is back in fine form with the latest season of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," its eighth (!), which premieres on HBO July 10. Of course, if you're a "Curb" viewer, this should come as no surprise. David's "Seinfeld 2.0" appeal comes the root of his personality. His improvisational approach to each episode's comedy-of-errors progression gives the impression of the world's most awkward documentary scrunched into the comic mayhem of a Looney Tunes cartoon. (David himself resembles Elmer Fudd, with Jeff Garlin as his Daffy.)
Anyway, the new season kicks off with (what else?) vintage Jewish humor, when David develops a fondness for a new chicken joint run by a bunch of Muslims, while his pal Marty Funkhouser (Bob Einstein) finds god and dons a yarmulke. The two find themselves in a Mexican standoff when Marty decides to check out the new chicken joint and Larry bars him from entering with his religious headgear. David's show of solidarity gets him laid with a sultry Palestinian woman watching from the sidelines. The two have amusingly noisy sex replete with subversive pillow talk (Her: "Fuck me, you Jew bastard." Him: "That reminds me of something Theodore Hertzl once said…") just when Funkhouser stops by and overhears everything. The episode ends with Larry stuck in between two groups of activists: The chicken shop proprietors and their supporters pitted against those of a Jewish deli that already opened next door. Directed by "Curb" mastermind Robert B. Weide, it sports a classic "Curb" progression where everything neatly builds to a chaotic conclusion, gloriously tinged with the irony of its overly cheery theme song.
The second episode, which involves the death of Jeff and Susie's dog, ends with Larry heading to New York, where he remains in the next episode. It's a convenient plot twist that returns him to the turf where he last spent a season while acting in a production of "The Producers" (and when he starred in Woody Allen's "Whatever Works" as a David-esque whiner). There, he finds a kindred spirit in none other than Bill Buckner, the former Boston Red Sox player whose missed catch allegedly blew the team's shot at a World Series championship in 1986. Playing himself, Buckner hilarious riffs on his infamy, redeeming himself in typically absurd "Curb" fashion by making a very unlikely catch in the knick of time. The season apparently also boasts a role for Michael J. Fox later in the season, but Buckner has already left a mark, just as he did with his expert insight in Alex Gibney's documentary "Catching Hell" earlier this year. In this case, he gives the show a welcome boost of optimism: If the public can forgive him for his "sin," then David may not be a totally hopeless case after all.