Picks and Pans Review: Curb Your Enthusiasm

updated 01/19/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/19/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

COMEDY

HBO (Sundays, 9:30 p.m. ET)

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He refuses to join in a chorus of "Happy Birthday" because he doesn't care for the song. He resists wearing a name tag at a large gathering because it may leave "paper remnants" on his jacket. He cites his status as co-creator of Seinfeld when asking to use a stranger's bathroom.

It's Larry David, back with social graces intact for a fourth season of this hilariously peculiar sitcom. Playing himself as an obsessive, paranoid crank, he keeps turning life into a vicious circle of embarrassment. In a story line that runs through the early episodes, Mel Brooks picks Larry (of all people) and Ben Stiller to take over the lead roles in the Broadway musical The Producers. The would-be costars reach such heights of comic incompatibility that I can forgive the show for a couple of ill-advised scenes that use mental retardation as gag material.

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