On The Tube
Larry David’s ultimate humiliation8/7/2013
“Clear History” is a feature-length showcase for the comedian’s masochism
All of us “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fans were suspicious when writer-star Larry David suspended the series to work on an HBO movie. But we needn’t have worried. “Clear History” is like an extended episode of “Curb,” with even bigger and better humiliations for the Larry David stand-in (Saturday, 8 p.m.).
Here David plays Nathan Flomm, a bearded, longhaired marketing executive who stupidly walks away from a billion-dollar electric-car idea after a petty fight with his partner Will (Jon Hamm). Nathan becomes a national laughingstock, so he moves to Martha’s Vineyard, changes his identity, shaves his hair and blends into working-class life with a group of new pals (Amy Ryan, Michael Keaton, Eva Mendes, Danny McBride, Bill Hader). All is well until Will happens to move to the island with his perfect wife (Kate Hudson). Nathan plots his revenge, ignoring the advice of a friend to “let it go.”
Of course, a Larry David character can never let anything go. He’s convinced he’s in the right, thereby sealing his doom.
David is our bard of minor irritations, dating back to his brilliant scripts for “Seinfeld.” “Clear History” is a showcase for his comic genius, including the usual insights into minutiae you’ve never thought about before. (And really, why aren’t electrical outlets at eye level?) Then there’s his ruthless determination to expose self-interested behavior in all its forms.
David is incapable of allowing his autobiographical heroes satisfaction. I just hope he can allow himself a moment’s satisfaction for his long-form achievement in “Clear History.”
“What Not to Wear”
Friday, 9 p.m. (TLC)
“What Not to Wear” begins its 10th and final season of saving women from their own contemptible clothing choices. In the season premiere, fashion gurus Stacy and Clinton are meaner than ever, but it’s not their fault — they’re confronted with the toughest case in “What Not to Wear” history, “The perfect storm of fashion disaster,” as they put it. Their subjects are three friends who represent each of the major style problems: too risqué, too frumpy, too kooky. “We won’t let them walk all over us,” insists trashy Riana, unaware that Stacy and Clinton could reduce the Queen of England to tears if they thought her crown wasn’t form-flattering. Sure enough, by the end of the hour, Riana and friends are converted, fashion tragedy is averted and order is restored.
This episode has a happy ending, yes, but what happens when “What Not to Wear” goes off the air? Will women revert to letting their bra straps show? And making bland color choices? And wearing tassles, for God’s sake?
“Teen Choice Awards”
Sunday, 7 p.m. (Fox)
“Choice” is probably the wrong word. Mega-corporations do market research to see what sights and sounds light up the primitive pleasure centers in the teenage brain. They craft entertainment products accordingly, treating teens as cash registers rather than human beings. Thus, the nominees for the 2013 “Teen Choice Awards” are basically tools for making the cash registers pop open: “Man of Steel” for movies, Miley Cyrus for music, “Beauty and the Beast” for TV.
But what’s this? “The Simpsons” is nominated for “Animated Show?” Here is a series created by people — smart, subversive people whose biting satire can help teens see through the “Teen Choice Awards” and all it stands for. CV
Dean Robbins is a syndicated TV columnist from Madison, Wis. See more of his work at www.thedailypage.com.