While we were glad to see a sorely missed Entourage return to the Sunday night HBO airwaves and re-enter the fray of stiff programming competition that always seems to make Sunday nights so strong, we’ve been vastly underwhelmed with the storylines so far, and the curious jumping in point for this season–Vince’s return from rehab. In fact, all of the characters except Drama (Kevin Dillon) and Ari (Jeremy Piven) have come in at weird places when considering what could have been.
We are very displeased at how Doug Elin and company have glommed over Vince’s (Adrian Grenier) arrest, Eric’s (Kevin Connolly) breakup with Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara…Brooklyn holler!) and his adventures in his new Tequila venture. As far as Turtle goes, in the past two seasons he was finally given more to work with than his loyal but stagnant pot smoking lackey, and in an end eerily familiar to season six’s, the writers have chosen to make him all about some annoying Mexican chick who won’t call him back. So far. But we think, with Mark Cuban and his business manager, played by one of our favorites, Bob Odenkirk, getting involved as investors in Avion that Turtle could be doing much more right now than waiting by the phone for Alex to call.
As far as E goes, he had come to a very compelling time in his relationship with the ultra hot Sloan, refusing to sign a pre-nup as we knew the stubborn E would. But for the show to just pick up 3 months later with him and Sloane separated and little to no information given aside from the unsigned pre-nup that we know about it, strikes us as lazy writing. Are they attempting to tell us their story with some out of sequence method? If so, we would think that to be untrue to Entourage’s established style of story telling which has evolved in the last four seasons to make it one of the premiere shows on television.
The show, in our minds, had gotten out of the box originally as a sluggish male themed rip of Sex and the City, with a Hollywood, celebrity cameo laiden twist. And then, when Vince began to go through some of the downs of the Hollywood movie star life, and the lives of Drama, E, and Ari were featured more prominently, the show became a much more interesting, layered, and gritty product. In truth, we had totally given up on Entourage but felt we had to give it another shot because of the dearth of quality television in general and on HBO in specific at that time. We were glad that we did give it another shot because Entourage had found a nice rhythm which it carried on, especially in depicting the rockier moments in Vincent Chase’s life. Until now.
To go from depicting Ari’s marital catastrophes to the hollow Mrs. Ari/Bobby Flay nonsense, to skip out on Vince’s troubles with the law and make his rehab seem like a vacation, and to gloss over formative moments for Turtle and E for what feels like the same old Sloan and Meadow Soprano nonsense are all bad shortcuts. Do they feel that because they have shown enough of Ari’s agency in its various stages of growth and development, that they were doing us a favor by not showing how Scott Lavin (Scott Caan) can walk up to E and tell him that he was taking down Murray, their boss and Sloan’s god father, and E telling Scott he was in, to 3 months later and the takeover mysteriously completed without nary a word as to how?
And we love Scott Caan on Entourage and feel that the takeover could have been well interwined with Eric’s personal life, where they have also left us in the dark. Back to Vince’s rehab for a second. Would it be wrong for us to assume Vince will slip up and relapse like just about every other person who has ever been to rehab? Because if that’s the case, then doing more than showing Vince giving his goodbye to crackheads speech would have been appropriate, and if it’s not the case, then showing some of the travails his brush with the law and addiction had taught him would go far in making a permanently clean Vince more believable.
It’s always hard to see a favorite show come up short. We were extremely disappointed to learn that Entourage was not returning on the same night as Curb Your Enthusiasm, and even more upset to learn that Entourage was only back for a slate of eight episodes in its final HBO season. But then, with the news that Scott Caan and Rhys Coiro (Billy Walsh) would be regulars and that another of our favorites, Andrew Dice Clay, had joined the cast as himself, we pencilled Entourage in to go out with a bang.
But the fact is, Sunday night, led by Breaking Bad, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Celebrity Rehab, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, are all already pencilled in as better shows right now. Entourage’s lack of oomph has dulled our limited faith in humanity, making us think that the big screen version, already being touted by Elin will be nothing but a stale money grab which won’t even measure up to Sex and the City 2.
Our criticism of Entourage can be extended out to HBO’s original programming in general. Their 2 best newer comedies which were ready for both of the last 2 summers, Hung and Bored to Death are not ready for action. True Blood is awful and has been for 2 years. No word on season 3 of The Life and Times of Tim, or season 4 of In Treatment. If not for Curb, which took its sweet time coming back, Treme, Boardwalk Empire, and Game of Thrones, we’d have nothing good to say about HBO compared to its glory days, which now see well removed. And the latter three dramas, while all good, are nowhere near the level of The Sopranos, The Wire, and Deadwood.
And to pass on Mad Men and Breaking Bad? With decisions like that, and weak reprisals like the current season of Entourage, people might soon be passing on HBO. I mean, we can only stare at Islanders t-shirts and screen savers as long as the show is good.