"Entourage" Kept the Laughs Flowing as the Drama Stagnated Review

For most of us, what we glean of a celebrity’s lifestyle through People magazine or entertainment news is about as close as we get to following the life of a movie star. HBO’s Entourage offered up something a little more in-depth and entertaining however by taking the exploits of Mark Wahlberg and his friends and making them the source of a series that went for eight seasons and followed Vince (Adrian Grenier), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), Eric (Kevin Connolly), Johnny ‘Drama’ (Kevin Dillon), and their agent Ari (Jeremy Piven) as they navigated the highs and lows of life in the movie biz. It was never a brilliantly written show, but Entourage kept things interesting for the first three or four seasons before eventually tail spinning into a directionless free fall that made it increasingly hard to care what happened to Vince while only making us care moderately more about his friends. Ultimately, although good for some laughs along the way, Entourage had no idea where it was going and it took its sweet time getting there.

What started as a childhood friendship between Queens kids Vince, Turtle, Eric, and Drama evolved into something much more when an independent film saw Vince skyrocket to fame. And, being the all-around good guy that he is, he took his friends along for the ride. It’s doubtful he ever figured he’d star as Aquaman in a feature film or work on a Martin Scorsese flick, but those were the career highlights awaiting him. Unfortunately, the crest of his career came all at once and some rough years followed as he fell into some of the more basic temptations fame offered him and he becomes increasingly reckless financially, romantically, and professionally.

Meanwhile, Turtle’s desire to become self-sufficient leads him to a number of business deals, Eric attempts to get his talent and management agency off the ground (by finding clients who aren’t Vince) while fighting for a rocky romance, and Drama struggles to put his acting career on track only to have one setback after another before landing a gig made just for him—only to have even that endangered by his would-be partner. Shepherding them all through these years is Vince’s fast-talking, sarcastic, temperamental agent Ari who does his best to keep Vince a star even as his agency undergoes a number of turbulent changes.

It’s the character interactions that kept Entourage afloat through many of its roughest patches in the later seasons, but even that couldn’t prevent the second half of the series from feeling a bit repetitive and drawn out. Maybe the writers felt it necessary for Vince to face a seemingly depressing descent in his career for four seasons so the final season, where all four friends finally get their big breaks, can offer the kind of resolution that would at least leave fans happy if not entirely satisfied. Truth be told, for eight seasons of television it’s surprising how little these characters seemed to evolve and grow, save for Eric and Turtle who both have to man up and take responsibility for certain decisions. Otherwise, Vince, Drama, and Ari just keep running around in circles and repeating themselves almost as if for no other reason than to make sure the seasons have enough going on and not because there’s a story worth telling. Their friendship makes for quite a few funny moments, but there aren’t nearly enough to let us forgive the series’ failures in telling a compelling story for as long as it took to tell the meager one it gave us.

DVD Bonus Features

As you’d rightfully expect for a complete series DVD or Blu-ray release of a modern show, the Entourage box set comes fairly packed with a healthy supply of extras ranging from some excellent featurettes to a few promo pieces that even the most diehard fans of Entourage won’t give a first, nevermind second, glance.

In order of greatest to worst extras:

  • The Behind-the-Scenes featurettes and interviews: These represent the bulk of the set’s extras and it’s not hard to understand why; lots of footage was taken on the set of Entourage, whether in LA or in Vegas, over the years thanks to it being a show which came of age in the YouTube era. Consequently lots of shenanigans, stunts, and interviews, conducted by Mark Wahlberg, are caught on film, and at some point it all becomes a bit surreal when you realize it’s not entirely clear when the four leads and Jeremy Piven are and are not in character. The interviews make that a bit clearer, but for the most part this is where the true entertainment factor in the extras section is found.
  • Medellin trailer and “making of” documentary – Remember that film about cartel kingpin Medellin that was supposed to be Vince’s big award winner? Well funnily enough the cast and crew put together a little faux-documentary about the making of the in-show film. It’s no Hearts of Darkness, but it’s funny they made it at all. The film’s trailer is also included.
  • Sasha Grey interview and featurette on the world of adult film: She might not have been in one of the show’s best seasons, but porn star held up her end in her destructive arc and so it seems appropriate that she gets a profile piece here.
  • Roundtable Q&A’s: The cast sits down for roundtable interview sessions as well as panels for the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen and the Museum of Television and Radio.
  • 21 Audio Commentaries: For about 2-3 episodes of each season you get an audio commentary and they can either be hysterical or very straightforward depending on who happens to be on-hand for the commentary.
  • Matt Damon’s “One X One PSA”: It’s a PSA and it’s 30-seconds long, how entertaining did you expect it to be? It’s for a good cause and that’s what counts.

"Entourage: The Complete Series" is on sale November 6, 2012 and is not rated. Comedy, Drama. Directed by Julian Farino, Mark Mylod. Written by Doug Ellin. Starring Adrian Grenier, Jeremy Piven, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon.

Nov
23
2012
Lex Walker • Editor

He's a TV junkie with a penchant for watching the same movie six times in one sitting. If you really want to understand him you need to have grown up on Sgt. Bilko, Alien, Jurassic Park and Five Easy Pieces playing in an infinite loop. Recommend something to him - he'll watch it.

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