LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Pathetic. Desperate. Lame.
The "Seinfeld" reunion its creators swore would never happen for the aforementioned reasons finally takes place next month.
The four stars of the famed "show about nothing" will appear together in the new season of HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," 11 years after their characters were left to rot in jail.
But, as anyone with a passing knowledge of the "Seinfeld" anti-sentimental ethos could guess, there is none of the hugging and good times that often besmirch such TV reunions.
It's really an anti-reunion, with actors Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards and Jason Alexander playing versions of themselves as they prepare to shoot a one-off show despite some misgivings.
"Get together? ... Why don't we just have a nice dinner?" Seinfeld suggests when he's being pitched the idea.
But the season promises to be "spectacular," to use a "Seinfeld" catchphrase.
"Curb" creator/star Larry David, who also created "Seinfeld" with Seinfeld, corralled the gang for up to five of the 10 episodes of his HBO show. The seventh season premieres on Sunday, and the "Seinfeld" reunion arc kicks in for the third episode, which airs on October 4.
LARRY'S LATEST SCHEME
As is often the case with "Curb Your Enthusiasm," real-life blends with fiction. The premise is that David's character, also named Larry David, caves in to years of demands for a reunion show as a ruse to get back together with his estranged wife Cheryl (played by Cheryl Hines).
He envisages giving Cheryl a key co-starring role, as the ex-wife of George Costanza (Alexander), so that "she'll see me in this whole new light," his character says.
In reality, people have often asked about a "Seinfeld" reunion, and David did split with his wife, environmentalist Laurie David. But the verisimilitude seems to stop there. David declined in a teleconference on Monday to say whether he ever thought of using a "Seinfeld" reunion to win her back.
He did say that other "Seinfeld" alumni will appear, albeit in very brief cameos, including the portly postal employee Newman (Wayne Knight), George's long-suffering mother Estelle Costanza (Estelle Harris), and the unfunny standup comic Kenny Bania (Steve Hytner).
Other guest stars include Meg Ryan, Rosie O'Donnell, Christian Slater, Sharon Lawrence and Elisabeth Shue.
David said he was "thrilled" with how the reunion turned out. "But of course, I liked how the 'Seinfeld' finale turned out. So maybe you've got the wrong guy," he said, referring to the 1998 closer that underwhelmed many fans and critics.
Getting the four "Seinfeld" principals together was fairly easy, though they were dubious it would ever happen, David said. But once schedules were juggled and the old "Seinfeld" living-room set spruced up, it was like the good old days.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the reunion is the re-emergence of Richards, who played the wacky neighbor Cosmo Kramer. Richards, an intensely focused master of physical comedy, largely disappeared from public view after a bruising, race-baiting encounter with hecklers at a comedy club in 2006.
"Michael went through a very traumatic experience, really, and he's been quite chastened by it," David said. "It deeply affected him, personally."
As for the other stars, Louis-Dreyfus is about to begin the fifth season of her own sitcom "The New Adventures of Old Christine," while Alexander has returned to his theater roots, and Seinfeld collects Porsches.
David said it's "possible" that "Curb Your Enthusiasm" will be back on the air next year, after taking 2008 off, but he will think about it over the next few months.
He has a few ideas for story arcs, "but I don't think any of them are going to be as good as the 'Seinfeld' idea, though, It's going to be hard to top that, I have to admit."