HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” returns Sunday with a new season that producers say will be chock-full of indignities Larry David stored up over the show’s six-year hiatus.
The ninth – and possibly final – season of the cringe-worthy comedy series will feature the same characters fans know and love, but viewers will also see appearances from stars including Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks and Judy Sheindlin (aka Judge Judy) as well as some surprise guests from older episodes.
Ahead of the season premiere, we caught up with J.B. Smoove (Leon Black) and executive producer/writer Jeff Schaffer to get some insight into what fans can expect from David this time around.
Warning: Possible spoilers ahead.
In season 9, Larry and Cheryl are still divorced and “have to deal with being single in the same small pond of the west side of Los Angeles and what complications that can lead to,” Schaffer said. “And Larry spent the last five to six years working on something that he’s very excited about … but he does not get the response he was expecting in any way shape or form, which kicks off the season in a very surprising and unique way.”
Schaffer wouldn’t reveal what Larry’s project is, but he said that it’s part of the season’s arc and will be one of the many seeds sewn in the premiere that will sprout over the following episodes.
As for Leon – whose good-bad advice Larry often follows – he’s moved out of Larry’s home and into a guesthouse in the backyard so that he can “live freely,” Smoove said.
Smoove hinted that fans may see Leon “come into a windfall,” and that it might affect his relationship with Larry.
“Will he always be there for Larry? Will Larry always be there for him? Will Larry be happy for him?” Smoove asked (but didn’t answer).
Schaffer said it was important for the first episode to touch base with what every character has been up to, such as Jeff and Susie’s daughter, who’s now 22 and has a serious boyfriend. Larry is seeing another therapist (played by Cranston), but he’s still “resistant to personal growth” much in the way some strings of bacteria are resistant to antibiotics.
“Once you’ve seen the first episode, you will never expect where it ends up,” Schaffer said. “I think it’s classic and different at the same time. Everything you love about the show is back with a vengeance.”
For one, the episodes are longer than the typical 30 minutes because there was so much material that David compiled over the last six years in his notebook.
“He had to come back because there’s been six years of indignities that he witnessed and petty things that were bothering him. He could stand silent no longer,” Schaffer said. “There are a lot of ideas we wanted to put in and everything expands on set because people come up with things and then there’s a live rewrite that makes it bigger.”
This may or may not be the last season of the hit show – every last episode is the last episode ever to David, Schaffer said. When he runs out of ideas, he doesn’t want to continue, but writers and co-stars had it in their minds they’d be back.
Over the long hiatus, Smoove wrote an advice book, “The Book of Leon: Philosophy of a Fool,” so that he never parted with his character. (It’s release date is Oct. 10.) Smoove said he checked in with David every once in a while to see if “Curb” was coming back and – after years of prodding – David finally asked if he’d be available.
“I think sometimes you need a little push,” Smoove said. “As crazy as this world is right now, he’s coming back when the world needs him.”