One of the hazards of being a television critic of sorts (If I am able to call myself that, which seems doubtful) is that some people believe that certain shows aren’t “allowed” to be criticized. They are above criticism, something that is just supposed to be fun or meaningful without being prodded, questioned, or subjected to any form of analysis outside of funny or not funny, good or bad. It’s not that they always love the show, but rather that they believe that things like character development, character consistency and storylines aren’t qualities that make the series what it is.
One of these shows is Entourage, a show that I’ve been quite literally attacked for criticizing at any level above “Meh, that episode was okay, I guess.” And don’t get me wrong: I think that things can be over-analyzed, and I guarantee you I do it quite often. However, I want to make a case that Entourage is not only capable of being criticized, but that it is also deserving of my criticism.
Why? Because Entourage, without a doubt, is the Most Disappointing Show of the 2007 Summer TV Season.
Now, I am not saying that Entourage was the worst show of the summer: doing so would be downright heretic, as the show is still more engaging than the majority of summer programming. However, it’s a question of expectation as compared to the actual results, and Entourage has failed to live up to its potential this summer.
For me, Entourage is at its best when it actually deals with the goings-on of a pretty boy actor, his self-conscious manager, his devoted driver, his washed-up actor brother, and his high-powered agent. In this mode, the show is a biting satire that evokes real hollywood drama for both comic and dramatic applications.
And they started this year’s set of episodes on the right path: Carla Gugino arrived as Vince’s new agent, Ari was self-conscious, and Drama had his pilot picked up and went through the self-esteem issues facing him in his new big break. Vince was deciding between movie projects, Medellin was being dangled in front of him, and there was something driving the story forward.
But that story died the second Vince and Amanda hooked up, essentially ending the potential. Vince went back to Ari, Medellin became the goal, but then the entire series slowed down to a halt. What began as an opportunity to build character actually led to a string of episodes in which nothing changed and nothing seemed to effect who these characters are. Plus, we had to deal with the unsufferable Billy Walsh.
While some might argue that Entourage is “just a comedy” and that these characters aren’t supposed to grow, the show has gone to great lengths to at least attempt to do this in the past. The show has never been just a comedy series: it has always been a dramedy with a storyline driving it forward. And this season, those storylines have been either poorly executed or non-existent; only Kevin Dillon was given anything new to do, which is why he earned an Emmy nomination last month.
When Entourage was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, it was for “One Day in the Valley.” The episode features a good combination of film industry references (The watch of Aquaman’s box office figures), as well as the boys just being boys out in the valley. That is the balance the series needs to strike, and for me it just hasn’t done it. And that, well, renders it the biggest disappointment of the summer season.