Friday, September 14, 2007

ENTOURAGE (a.k.a. recent obsession #2)

There are about 10 or so shows I've heartily encouraged to watch or I feel I need to watch that I've got on my DVD-rental list. One weekend I'll break down, rent the discs and spend the next two days plowing through each and every episode. As I've said before, for a guy that watches a lot of TV, I sure do miss a lot of TV. My never-seen list includes things like Prison Break, the Sopranos (after the first season), Heroes, How I Met Your Mother, Dexter, Battlestar Galactica, The Wire, Oz, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Sex and the City (after the first two seasons), Prime Suspect, and probably a lot of stuff I'm forgetting. What can I say, I'll get to it! God, I'm only one man!

One show I just checked off my list is Entourage. I had a marathon viewing of the first four seasons and now I'm completely caught up. Obviously, I enjoyed it, or else I wouldn't have kept spending so much time watching. It's a solid B-level show, not a masterpiece or anything, but well worth the general interest people seem to have about it. In discussing the show, I'll use the most common comments/criticisms leveled against it as jumping-off points.

* "It would be a better show if it was about Ari running the agency, with Lloyd and Mrs. Ari as the supporting characters."
Let's not get carried away. Too much of a good thing can lead to ruin. Right now, Ari is perfect in his comic relief subplots, or in his larger roles when he's hanging out with the guys. Stretched out over full episodes, it might get old. Remember the last two comedies about agents and behind-the-scenes business in Hollywood? One was Action, which was canceled in about ten minutes. The other was Arli$$, a show so bad that reruns are used in South American churches as answers when children ask what hell is like.

* "None of them can act except Jeremy Piven and Kevin Dillon."
Well, maybe. Piven is tremendous and Dillon steals this whole show. After seeing his work over four series, I'm rooting hard for Dillon to pick up the Emmy on Sunday. Johnny Drama kills me. His non-stop recitation of past crappy bit roles and efforts to keep his 'youthful looks' never ceases to be funny. The great thing about the character is that, though he's a pompous ass, the highlight of the series for me was that episode where he's out in the desert depressed when he learns that his series is a hit. It was genuinely touching. Did I cry? No. Did I think about crying? No. But I thought about thinking about crying.

Anyway, Dillon and Piven are clearly the cream of the crop, with Rex Lee (Lloyd) also pwning every scene he's in. As for the others, it may be a case of the Matt Leblanc syndrome where they may not be the best actors overall, but are so perfectly suited for the roles that it works. Jerry "Turtle" Ferrera is typecast for the rest of his life. Adrian Grenier plays the role of the laid-back star to a T. Kevin Connolly is probably the one I'm least impressed with just because I think there's more that can be done with the character, but the more I think of it, he works well too. He has the somewhat thankless role of the voice of reason within the group, on a show where the creators have already admitted that nothing truly bad will ever happen to the group because the show is first and foremost a comic fantasy. So when you're constantly being the guy who says no to stuff on a show where everything goes right, Eric can't help but look rather bad. In that sense, Connolly plays the role well, though I still think that a better actor could've elevated the part.

* "Is Vince supposed to be a great actor or not?"
Who cares? The show is supposed to be about how an actor and his buddies live the Hollywood lifestyle. Vince's movie career is just the Macguffin needed to carry the plot along and get these guys into the A-list parties. Entourage has shown very little of Vince actually acting, probably because a) it isn't necessary, and b) if Vince is actually a great actor, it would be hard on Adrian Grenier to become a great actor overnight. Playing a good actor is a hard role --- why do you think those roles are usually left to actual great actors like Finney, Olivier, etc.?

* "This show is sexist!"
Really? There are lots of strong female characters --- Mrs. Ari, Dana Gordon, Shauna the publicist, Baba Miller. I guess my counter-question to that is, do men really come off well in this series? I think Entourage does a good job of showing how Vince and his acting ilk are objects to the public, the studios and in some ways, even to their friends. Vince has a lot of one-night stands, but those seem pretty mutual on both sides. The reality is that if you're a star, people are going to throw themselves at you. If this series was about an actress and his gal pals, there'd be several episodes where the girls go out collecting men like so many baseball cards.

* "Why does Vince always sleep with the store clerks?"
Ok, this is an observation of my own. I love how seemingly every time the guys are in a store, the sales clerk is drop-dead gorgeous and hooks up with Vince. I'll have to keep an eye out for these hot saleswomen the next time I'm in Mark's Work Warehouse.

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