Wine and women get better with age. Larry David gets bitter.
Of course, bitter is better when it comes to David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm," which kicked off its eighth season on HBO Sunday night after an almost two-year hiatus.
He and his now ex-wife, Cheryl, trotted through what was possibly the most amicable divorce in history. But the real highlight: David teaching a Girl Scout how to use a tampon through his bathroom door. He offered the following defense when her father expressed his disgust: "If her nose was running and she needed a tissue, I would've given her a tissue."
He's just getting started. It seemed hard to top season seven's "Seinfeld" reunion, but judging from a screening of the three episodes set to air in the coming weeks, David's done it. Forget pushing the envelope -- he sets the thing on fire with the season's third installment in which he offers his take on the age-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
David and his sidekick of a manager develop an insatiable craving for Palestinian chicken from a Los Angeles eatery. They note that a Palestinian restaurant would be a fantastic place for their Jewish friends to cheat on their spouses, and Jeff suggests a solution to the long-simmering tensions between Israel and the Palestinian territories: "What these people should do is send their chicken over to Israel."
But the chicken becomes a bone of contention when David and his more devoutly Jewish friends learn that another branch of the Palestinian restaurant is set to open next door to an iconic Jewish deli. His cronies suggest a rally to force the Palestinians out. (Remember the "Ground Zero mosque" debate? Like that, but with tasty meat.)
There's no sense in giving it all away here. Suffice is to say there's a fight over a yarmulke, a tryst with a Palestinian woman who urges David to show her "the promised land," an expletive-filled argument with a woman played by Maggie Wheeler (better known as the nasally Janice from "Friends"), and a few more foibles before the battle comes to a head.
Crises abound this season, particularly those of the middle-aged kind. David, divorced in the series and in real life, is single and ready to mingle. His married pals bicker more than ever. One of his friends becomes a born again Jew, another takes a spiritual vow of silence.
But immaturity still rules. The ninth episode of the season, which finds David in "Seinfeld's" stomping ground, New York City, includes therapy sessions brought on by an embarrassing childhood incident in a Mr. Softee ice-cream truck. And David gives the term "joy ride" a whole new meaning when his girlfriend, played by "Saturday Night Live" alum Ana Gasteyer, discovers a secret about the passenger seat of his car.
Gasteyer and Wheeler are among the many special guests that grace "Curb's" eighth season. The lineup includes Ricky Gervais, Rosie O'Donnell and Michael J. Fox. Recurring stars Wanda Sykes and J.B. Smoove also return. Susie Essman, as the filthy-mouthed wife of David's manager, is in true form.
Since "Curb" started, there's been chatter about its end. David, crank that he is, hasn't tried to hide the fact that he doesn't relish the promotion and publicity that surrounds each season. If this season marks the end, it's quite a way to go out. But as the Palestinian chicken war proves, no one else goes where David goes. Here's hoping he's got it in him to stick it out for another round.