Entourage


Amy (Laura Dern) and Levi (Luke Wilson) survey Levi’s stash house (above).

We were very happy to see Bored to Death return for a 3rd season, and happier still to see it paired with a new show on Monday night, making for the only non Sunday HBO original programming since our beloved In Treatment went black.  HBO, having had to recognize the strides made by Showtime on Mondays, especially with heroine themed dramedies Tara and The Big C, seemed to go that route, tapping Laura Dern to co-create and star in Enlightened.

The Monday schedule however, even with a staple like BTD, hasn’t really gotten rolling.  We were not surprised when we heard that Enlightened was on the renewal bubble for a 2nd season, even though HBO usually announces renewals very early on when they are behind a show.  BTD has not been the lights out comedy hijinx we have come to know from it which could be part of the reason, along with a non traditional night, for Enlightened’s lukewarm and so far unimpressive numbers.  BTD, 1 of our favorites because of both the Brooklyn n the bud, has been a weaker strain this year, and the beauty of the show, the magical ensemble of the Jason Schwartzman-Zach Galafianakis-Ted Danson triumvirate seems more trite and forced this season.  The show has picked up in recent weeks with Jonathan’s visit to The Dick Cavett show, and was at its best all season Monday when Ray’s already complex love life took a bisexual turn.  The show has drawn on perhaps its all-time best moment, when Jonathan was made to snuggle in bed with his girlfriend’s boyfriend, the signature moment of last season.

We were of course glad to see Sarah Silverman on BTD in the role of friends counseling therapist and thought her funny, though her face has seen better days (sorry Sarah).  Hopefully she gets some more run in the role.  And hopefully the show gets back to basics.  In this case, that would be the bud.  We also understand Enlightened’s problems.  Truth be told, episodes 1 and 2 were very underwhelming.  We sat there waiting for things to happen that never did.  HBO’s audience, frankly, must not be used to the pace of this show, which is very slow.  HBO’s half hour format is usually sensory overload–so many sights (Entourage), so many jokes (Curb, Flight), so much drama (In Treatment).

Enlightened is practically no jokes, hardly any likable characters, and very slow plot machinations. Dern plays a woman fresh off a nervous breakdown and a stint at a mental health facility, who is grating, forcefully repetitive, and who seems to have none of the LA sensibilities or standard sensibilities of the others in her life, which upon further review, don’t seem so sensible, except for Levi (Luke Wilson), who takes drugs so he “doesn’t have to think all the time”.

Dern’s Amy Jellicoe has a mother (Diane Ladd) who is at best disinterested with her and at worst scared of her.  And she lives with her.  How depressing  and yet common is that?  She has an old set of coworkers she thought were friends who are obviously not and a new set of coworkers, a motley crew of company rejects stuck in the basement like her.  One of those coworkers is Jason Mantzoukas, our beloved Tim’s bad boy Dr. (“did you take a hurty poopy?”), who also plays Ruxin’s (Nick Kroll, also of Tim fame) hilariously inappropriate brother-in-law Raffi on The League (when sandwich dancing on the outside of a stripper in Vegas: “He has a lot of money and I have huge dick.  Let’s do this!”)  It would be difficult to make Mantzoukas not funny. Yet Enlightened practically has.

This is probably the most realistic show on HBO’s airwaves right now, the antithesis of shows like Entourage and How to Make It in America that always seem to end on a high note, in fantastical pastry puff worlds.  Enlightened would probably be the karmatic balance of Entourage for HBO.  If there’s any escape at all for the viewer, it could be that our lives are actually better than theirs.  Dern has a meaningless job and only the shell of her former career as some sort of corporate buyer.  She has only pretend friends who are pained at the sight of her.  She is abrasive and over zealous and a lot of the time you say ‘I can’t even like her.’  She forces her unrealistic therapy inspired ideas on the wrong people at the wrong times and places, and she clutches her new found belief system for dear life, as some in recovery tend to do.  You just wanna tell her to save it, not only because the ideas might be bad, but because the people around her are so filled with apathy.

Amy gets every flat tire, is caught in every rainstorm–figurative and literal–and has already chucked her self help bible in the trash.  So far though, she has treated every day like a new day, and she is back each morning at her toil anew.  So far.  We think that’s the point of it all.  Life in general.  Bad jobs and few real friends and inadequate partners and family members.  Bad cars and bad bosses and living arrangements in places where you can walk 10 miles without once encountering a soul that gets you.

But you have to keep going.  Should she stumble, foreshadowed by flashbacks of binge drinking and Levi’s ‘Mexican pharmacy’ it would only indicate that Amy is even more like us than we care to admit, annoying personality ticks and all.

This is a very smart show.  It’s one you may never enjoy, at least not in the usual sense.  Get into the misery.  If you give it a long enough look, a satori might be your eventual reward.

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com)

Brooklyn’s own, Andrew Dice Clay (above), in his dilapidated Entourage living room.

So Dice was on line at the bank, and some jerkoff tapped him on the shoulder and said, ‘Excuse me.  Is this the back of the line?’  And so Dice says, ‘No, it’s the front of the line and we’re all standing backwards.  Oooe!’  It’s been a long road for Dice, and no one was more thrilled than us to see the Diceman reconcile with Howard Stern and start getting high profile gigs again a few years ago.  For Dice is our own.  We have been to the club on Emmons Ave. where it all began for Dice in Brooklyn, we’ve seen him perform and bought his records, even fell in love with the oft panned The Day the Laughter Died, and were happy to call Dice a neighbor for a short while in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn. 

So we didn’t like the first Entourage of the season, and we were right not to.  Lazy storylines about love life bullshit and powder puff rehab nonsense with Vince?  If that’s the final year of Entourage, then we walk away very unhappy.  But as we watched last week, somewhere around minute ten, the show came to life like a Volcano, at once giving resonance to Turtle and righting what had been a wayward plotline, resurrecting a jewel in putting Ari back with Dana, and showing us a more reality based side of rehab, with Kim Coates in his reprised role as scumbag producer Carl Ertz, spiraling out of control on a coke binge and in the end blowing his brains out.

We have long admired Koates and more recently, as a hard partying biker tough guy, perhaps the show’s best, on Sons of Anarchy.  It’s a guilty pleasure show for us, and not one that has distinguished itself well enough for the good or the bad for us to write about it.  Still, it’s a decent enough guys’ guy show if one can lose all connections to plausibility.  But Entourage is the guys’ guy show, and having ridden out or reversed its early season weaknesses, we were left on the edge of our seats last week, having done a 180 on the shows prospects, as we at once lamented and savored the fact that the show has 5 episodes left.

The Mrs. Gold/Bobby Flay storyline has given way to Ari’s return to the dating scene, with his initial foray on a dinner date with a pretty, easy young thing who states openly early on that she’s there “to have a good time” and that they will.  Ari, starts out of sorts and somewhat depressed before admitting that he probably will get divorced.  The young girl tells him he will get his groove back, to which Ari replies “Yeah, well Stella did.”

The actress, played by Breanne Racano (hottie), pricelessly then says, “Who?”

Entourage is and has always done a lot to illustrate the generation gap between old school and new breed, usually with mainstay Johnny Drama’s character, but now, doing so with Ari on such a real level is quite well done.  And now, to rekindle Ari’s and Dana’s (Constance Zimmer) flame, who have always had a chemistry that has frankly trumped the chemistry between Mr. and Mrs. Gold is an excellent turn for the show to take. 

Taking Turtle out of that pussy whipped nonsense around Alex, and consequently out of Avion Tequila, gives Turtle substance and also, might just have laid the groundwork for an ocean of regret, since obviously, Avion Tequila is gonna be huge.  Did anyone not wince when Mark Cuban offered Turtle financing for Don Pepe’s, that Turtle refused?  Hopefully, the lad will have a change of heart, but if not, mistakes are part of life, and the show has always been more dynamic when the characters are struggling, rather than living out every poossible perfect fantasy under the sun out in pastry land. 

Perhaps the show’s most dynamic moments were the failed Medellin project and the damage it did to Vince’s bank account and public standing, and the unforgettable conversation he had with Ari when he asked him if Ari thought he was a good actor.  Ari replied that he didn’t sign him because he was a good actor, he signed him because he was a movie star.  It’s that type of hard moment that elevated Entourage from a labored comedy with gratuitous ass thrown in for the sake of the male audience it wanted, to a show that’s really about something, and one that doesn’t always end up wrapped in a perfect bow.

We felt the same way last year with all the turbulence around Vince’s pornstar girlfriend, Ari’s marriage, and E’s new job, and the suggestion that he didn’t have what it took to do it well.  Now the show is firing on all cylinders, so soon after we were so disappointed in it.  And they’ve thrown their old school male audience a bone, giving us back the Diceman, a legend to so many of us while growing up.  Have you noticed that Dice is more perverse than ever, if not sexually, but moreso in terms of his logic, that of a borderline has been egomaniac male diva?

How about devising a way to have unearthed another favorite, Jamie Kennedy, who gets to pay homage to Dice by impersonating him in the context of the Johnny Bananas storyline?  Sticking with Entourage is paying huge dividends.  We’ve told you when it was subpar.  So listen when we tell you that you’d be crazy to miss out on one second of what little remains.

And Entourage does deserve to cash in with a major motion picture.  Who better? 

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/entourage-hbo-breaking-badly/

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

Walter White played by Bryan Cranston (above).

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/breaking-bad-poor-finale-ends-excellent-season/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/walt-to-jessie-murder-is-not-part-of-your-12-step-program/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/breaking-bad-back-to-basics/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/breaking-bad-is-mr-white-really-going-to-become-the-15m-man/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/04/27/breaking-bad-is-gus-about-to-get-got/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/breaking-bad-sun-setting-on-jessie/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/04/08/breaking-bad-pinkman-finally-passes-chem/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/breaking-bad-family-affairs/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/breaking-bad-season-3-the-gib-heads-are-gonna-love-it/

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Now for some news the gib heads aren’t going to love.  The AMC top drama, Breaking Bad, starring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul as meth makers in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will not return to the air in March, where it debuted and aired in its first 3 seasons, but instead will return in July of 2011, making the hardened legion of BrBa faithful very unhappy.

July 2011 seems a long way away, doesn’t it? It sounds almost… futuristic.Unfortunately, that futuristic date will be the premiere of Breaking Bad‘s fourth season, which has been pushed back four months from its original March start date, according to Deadline TV.

“”I think what AMC is thinking here is there will be less competition for us — particularly from the broadcast networks — if we launch our season during the summer than if we come back again like we did this time in March,” shared star Bryan Cranston, who plays the main character Walter White on AMC’s hit series.

If you’re worried about still having a year to get your Breaking Bad fix, don’t worry. AMC will be churning out mini-episodes for you over the break. The show goes back into production in January, when these short clips (less than five minutes) will be filmed.

http://www.tvovermind.com/cable/amc/breaking-bad/breaking-bad-season-4-delayed/27843

Interstitials?  Meaningful ones that advance the plot during our long, painful separation from that sick blue crystal?  I hope Cranston, who also directs most episodes, is right, but we are skeptical, especially after watching and being less than impressed with Trueblood’s meaningless, random, and haphazard minisodes.

What about Breaking Bad coming back in July–when Mad Men has always debuted?  Is AMC prepared to steal Sunday nights next summer with a blockbuster lineup that includes what many regard as television’s top two dramas?  Could the more popular Mad Men be moved up to March, where it can probably better handle the competition that Breaking Bad is trying to avoid?  Because of Mad Men’s production schedule, a move to March on short notice might not even be possible.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/mad-men-problems-for-don-loom-glen-returns/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/mad-men-don-and-betty-up-to-old-and-new-tricks/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/mad-men-jon-hamm-tells-parade-he-doesnt-want-wife-and-kids/

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/sal-romano-we-hardly-knew-ye/

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https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/tara-jackie-and-joannie-holloway/

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And will the slow moving Rubicon prove itself to be a worthy cornerstone of Sunday night programming by the time that either season 4 of Breaking Bad or season 5 of Mad Men begins?  We’re pulling for Rubicon, but we haven’t seen anything so far to warrant the status of a show that will achieve even cult popularity.

https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/rubicon-they-hide-in-plain-sight/

At least Breaking Bad fans who watch Entourage have gotten a little Saul Goodman fix of late.  The hilarious Bob Odenkirk has a recurring role on Entourage this season as Mark Cuban’s business associate. 

–Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, www.crackbillionair.com)

Mark Sanchez and Sopranos and Entourage star, Jamie Lynn Sigler, were out in the village on Saturday night, and they looked very much like a couple.

http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/really_close_3zSsm9SPkUbdQHEaQnhAmM

By the way, Sanchez threw the football for the first time this week in 7 on 7 drills since undergoing knee surgery.

Go Mark!

And go Mark!

–Crack

P.S.  Entourage returns for a new season on HBO premiering June 27th.