After 12 seasons, Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" has ended.

After 12 seasons, Larry David's "Curb Your Enthusiasm" has ended. Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO

This story has spoilers about Sunday's “Curb Your Enthusiasm” finale.

We've all heard about the TV series finale that “sticks a landing” or has a perfect ending. The 10th and final episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm's'' 12th and final season was not exactly that: This one came in on approach nose down Sunday night, then righted itself, hit the runway, screeched, spun out, burned tires, terrified passengers (fans) then came in for a squealing halt at the gate.

Not pretty, but it got the job done, more or less.

 And so, after 24 years, and 12 some-glorious (some less so) seasons, a TV classic comes to an end by essentially re-litigating the finale of another TV classic from another century. Not to get too spoilery, but Larry (Larry David) is convicted by episode's end of breaking a Georgia election law. We all knew that was going to happen anyway, but the last act - abetted by Jerry Seinfeld himself - is the real point of divergence. Almost regretfully, LD finds himself a free man. Justice was served, or not. Regardless, this does actually feel like a funnier way to wrap the whole shebang.

Now obvious in hindsight, Sunday's finale, entitled “No Lessons Learned,” was always meant to be a rebuke to “Seinfeld '' critics and fans anyway. If that one didn't work, then this one will! Or won't. No lessons learned, after all. In fact, the “Seinfeld'' finale from all the way back on May 14, 1998 was one of those rare endings — “The Sopranos'' is another — that has improved with age. All Seinfeld and David wanted to do was to celebrate the series in the only way they knew how — by debasing the characters one last time. If viewers didn't get the joke, then they hadn't been paying attention.

Same with Sunday night. If this all sounds too meta, then we haven't been paying attention these last 24 years either. The best “Curbs”' were always about the inevitability of Larry's humiliation: A precise countdown to that moment when everything comes crashing down on top of him. Along with the famous improvisational spirit, it was this precision that made them work so well.

Precision and inevitability went missing Sunday, which was OK. There were enough funny lines and callbacks to more than make up for that. Seinfeld and David, for example, went off on a riotous non-sequitur about a bearded lady; archrival Ted Danson got himself arrested — a look of triumph in his final shot. Leon (J.B. Smoove) turns to Seinfeld, with one last priceless parting shot: “I heard you [messed] up the 'Seinfeld' finale.” A dozen fan favorites, like Mr. Takahashi (Dana Lee), returned during the trial scenes to remind those fans what they (we) loved so much about “Curb” in the first place. There were some surprise (and welcome) cameos from Allison Janney (Richard Lewis' ex-girlfriend from long ago) and Dean Norris (the trial's hanging judge). We got to say goodbye to Jeff (Jeff Garlin), Cheryl (Cheryl Hines), Leon and Susie (Susie Essman) one last time too (Susie, I think I'll miss you most of all.)

Nevertheless, there was pathos here too, particularly when Lewis (who died Feb. 27) was on-screen. Watching LD and Seinfeld together was like seeing George Burns and Walter Matthau in “The Sunshine Boys.” They've aged and we have, too. They've given us great joy over — what? — the past 30+ years. And now It's all over now.

 Pathos seems about right.

BOTTOM LINE Messy wrap with enough funny lines (and callbacks) to make that all right. 

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