Tag Archives: Ari Gold

Season Premiere: Entourage – “Stunted”

“Stunted”

June 27th, 2010

There is a half-finished draft of a post wherein I vowed to give up on Entourage this season sitting on WordPress’ server, written late last week as I wrestled with this decision. I thought that this was going to be the season when I would finally break down and stop watching a show that I’ve unfairly subjected to indepth critical analysis despite the series’ complete lack of interest in any of the qualities which would warrant such indepth critical analysis. There’s a point where I would have to accept that the show I want Entourage to be is never going to exist, and that for better (or, far more likely, for worse), the show will remain as airy as it has ever been without any sense of consequence or real dramatic stakes.

And yet I think the necessary intervention is less about the twenty-two minutes a week I spend watching something so trifling and more about the half hour I sometimes spent analyzing it. While I would never defend the series’ quality, and certainly feel that it has devolved considerably since its initial potential, the show’s seventh season has started off without any pretensions as it relates to what kind of show this is. The show’s problem in the past is that it has contained elements which could be a more interesting series if they were only allowed to play out until their logical (and complicated) conclusions, but “Stunted” has no such elements: it’s quick, it’s simple, and its entire plot can fit comfortably into a cable listings logline.

And so, both because I won’t be alone and because Autumn Reeser personally told me I should continue watching on Twitter, I’m going to keep watching, albeit without taking out my critical frustrations on a show completely disinterested in changing.

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The 2008 Television Time Capsule: Entourage – “Return to Queens Boulevard”

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“Return to Queens Boulevard”

Season Five, Episode 12

Airdate: November 24th, 2008

I have never gotten more flak as a television critic than when I have the gall to criticize Entourage. It’s a sore spot for me: it’s a show that people keep trying to convince me is just male wish fulfillment, and a show that I keep trying to convince people is in fact a drama about celebrity and its impact on humanity. So when the show leans to the former, and I complain about its inability to live up to its potential, needless to say conflict arises.

I’m including “Return to Queens Boulevard” in the 2008 Television Time Capsule for a selfish reason, because I think it proves my point. For about 24 minutes, this is an investigation into how celebrity has changed people: how Vince reacts to being jobless and living at home with his mother, and how Eric responds to his own sense of responsibility for Vince’s future. When the two characters have what could be their final blowout, and Vince fires Eric for failing to land him a job, I absolutely refuse to believe that even skeptics don’t feel like this is a moment that has been built up since even the first season.

But after those 24 minutes are over, something goes horribly wrong: everything goes back to normal. Vince has a job, an amazing job with Martin Scorsese even, land in his lap, and all of a sudden their fight is over: that Eric badgered Gus Van Zant enough to get Vince a job was suddenly enough to overcome their differences and reunite them. When Vince showed up in that office, it was a show taking the coward’s way out: at even the sight of a decent character study which could have ramifications for the following season, the show balked.

I am fine with Entourage not taking itself seriously, or fulfilling the male wish to have as much nudity as HBO will allow, but what I can’t stand is the show’s dabbling in more serious (and, for my tastes, more interesting) storylines only to snatch them away. Yes, the show might move into its sixth season and investigate this rift further, but what would have been the harm of letting what was arguably the show’s most intriguing post-Season Two storyline go on for a bit longer?

An improvement over the almost disastrous fourth season which was just unpleasant at the end of the day, the fifth season posed bigger questions and was much more willing to actually offer up some intriguing answers to them. That Doug Ellin and co. would wipe that all away only further proves that the show needs to either solve its bipolarity once and for all or at the very least inform its most ardent fans that people are allowed to have different opinions about the series.

Related Posts at Cultural Learnings

[For more details on the Cultural Learnings 2008 Television Time Capsule, click here!]

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Entourage – “Play’n with Fire”

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“Play’n with Fire”

November 16th, 2008

It has been a good many episodes since I last discussed Entourage, a period explained by a variety of reasons. Perhaps first and foremost, I don’t quite have time: while Mad Men left a gap in my Sunday nights, other commitments have meant that The Amazing Race is all the time I’ve got (I’m two weeks behind on Dexter and barely catching up with Brothers & Sisters as it is).

But if Entourage had been anything but a mixed bag over these past few weeks, I may have been more likely to discuss it in earnest. Whether it had been horrible (like much of the fourth season) or fantastic (like the early days of the series), I would have found time to make note of the various developments; instead, the season just took its initial setup (Vince is in tough shape career wise, needs a new opportunity) and played that chord over and over again.

It was a good chord, in the begnning, and I’d tend to argue that it’s a good chord in the end; the entire on-set experience of “Smoke Jumpers” has been a return to the show’s proper perspective, and the explosion that takes place within this episode is a far more natural and logical wrinkle in the development process than anything we saw from the caricature of Billy Walsh. “Play’n with Fire” features a lot of things which feel natural: by abandoning the member of the group who has most resembled a walking punchline (Drama, that’d be you) for the one who is perhaps the most emotionally interesting and undefined (Turtle), and by frontlining Vince as someone facing a crisis of his own, the show just feels likes it’s on a more logical path heading into next week’s finale.

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Entourage – “Tree Trippers”

“Tree Trippers”

October 5th, 2008

No show knows how to waste time like Entourage.

“Tree Trippers” is straight out of the Entourage playbook: our group faces an important decision, which leads them on a quest of sorts that really just stretches out one sentence into an entire episode for the sake of being filled with antics, tongue-in-cheek celebrity cameos, and likely some sort of drug-based hallucinations.

Now, admittedly, I like my Entourage episodes to have a bit more plot, and this episode kind of struggled in that regard, but the season remains charming: whereas last year felt like nothing but episodes like this one strung along in a row, this feels like a worthwhile detour in order to recollect on the current situation.

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Entourage – “The All Out Fall Out”

“The All Out Fall Out”

September 21st, 2008

From those who had seen screeners of the start of Entourage’s fifth season, it was this episode that in Alan Sepinwall’s words, that “gave [them] some faint hope that “Entourage” might be at least decent again.” A blisteringly paced half hour, it gave us two interesting, funny, and well-balanced storylines that interweaved in numerous recurring characters along with introducing yet more tension into our already complicated situation.

What it represents first and foremost, though, is that Entourage is a show still capable of being complicated without being bogged down by it – seeing as Eric loses sight of the script he’s selling for his new clients, or as Vince plummets further into bankruptcy, doesn’t feel tonally inconsistent with the sheer absurdity of Ari Gold’s feud with Adam Davies which involves human feces and male strippers. The show is at its worst when either of these two elements overpowers the other, but through some shrewd guest casting and some smart touches, “The All Out Fall Out” is, indeed, a harbinger of hope for Entourage.

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60th Primetime Emmy Awards Preview – Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

If there’s something to say about the Supporting Actor category for comedy series, it’s that it has far too many candidates, largely due to the nature of television comedy. There are just a lot of male comic performers who steal their respective shows, emerging from the spotlight of the “stars” if you will. When there are three of television’s biggest comedies with two contenders each, you know that the competition is going to be extremely difficult.

And yet, when it comes to narrowing the category down to winners, it’s been a bit too predictable in recent years: since 2002, only three people have won the award (Brad Garrett with 3, David Hyde Pierce with his fourth, and Jeremy Piven with two in the last two years). The result is that it’s not the kind of category that really opens itself up to new talent, even when like last year it had it staring in its face with nominations for Rainn Wilson, Kevin Dillon and Neil Patrick Harris.

But the hope is that history won’t repeat itself: with 30 Rock emerging with a few new candidates, a breakthrough comic role for a drama specialist, and a few fringe contenders, Piven’s reign might just be over as Emmy voters decide to go with something fresh and new. Or, if I know Emmy voters, Piven will walk with his third trophy, not undeservedly but unfortunately.

[Sorry for advance for a lack of YouTube links: Entourage clips are limited and NBC is uppity about clips thanks to Hulu, which I'd use if I could access it from Canada. My apologies!]

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