“Runnin’ on E”
August 2nd, 2009
When I sat down to watch the latest episode of Entourage, I took some notes. Half of them were less than four words long. The other half were about Autumn Reeser. Such is Season Six of Entourage.
To be honest with you, I think it’s a welcome change of pace: the fifth season had me wanting to rant about the show every week, but right now the show is so consistent in its absolute mediocrity that I really don’t have much to add. Any chance of the show really breaking from formula has been put on hold, with Vince’s movie delayed, Eric’s independence floundering, Turtle’s trip to college pretty tame and Drama’s career in the exact same place you’d normally expect it to be.
And I’m happy with all of it, really – sure, I’m still convinced the show is capable of being more than it is, but in its current mode I find it breezy and light, an ideal summer show instead of a frustrating summer disappointment.
There are some, I’m sure, who find the storyline with Gary Cole’s Andrew struggling to remain faithful to his wife after having a fling with a young junior agent a bit too dramatic for the series (especially when it isn’t happening to any of the main characters), but I personally find that it works for a number of reasons. The first is that while the storyline may be a fairly cliched bit of drama, the comedy they’re finding within the scenario is amongst the sharpest the show has done in a while. The pitch session for David Schwimmer, where every agent is offering him roles that are essentially Ross from Friends transplanted into different scenarios, was a nice bit of Hollywood meta-commentary, and Ari’s struggle to deal with Andrew’s incompetence (especially his meeting with Reeser’s character) was a more mature form of Ari’s intimidation tactics.
Yes, the storyline is in some ways a distraction, but Schwimmer’s guest appearance was legitimately hilarious (especially his anger at Ari for Andrew cockblocking him with Reeser), and it’s the kind of storyline that isn’t quite just “dudes hanging out.” It’s a nice balance to the rest of the show right now, which really is just dudes hanging out. Vince spends the episode bedding a waitress, Eric has sex with creepy, child-like Ashley in his office and decides to stop working with clients other than Vince (essentially), Drama spends his time making out with prospective T.V. girlfriends, and Turtle goes clothes shopping. In the world of Entourage, this is what counts as entertainment for the audience, I guess.
There’s elements of some broader storylines here, but the show didn’t feel the need to go insane with anything: Drama’s makeout session could have become a huge embarassment, but instead Drama was just delusional as opposed to an imbecile; Turtle’s clothes shopping could have turned into an embarassment, but instead it’s just Turtle buying new clothes. There’s elements of both storylines that raise questions about these people ever changing, Drama getting a better on screen girlfriend when Turtle lets Sigler take the job and Turtle refusing to allow Sigler to pay for his clothes because Vince gave him a fistful of cash. In both instances, all it’s doing is enabling them, but that appears to be the show’s goal.
And I’m okay with that – no, the show isn’t particularly deep, but as long as its slower periods aren’t falling into sensationalist cliches, and as long as elements of more complex storylines (Eric giving up his chance at independence, for one) are still at least somewhat present the show has a decent foundation to build on. If I’m going to keep watching Entourage, I’d rather it be inoffensive and easy to watch than frustrating in its failures to deliver on its potential. As long as it limits itself, I think the show’s in solid shape.
- It’s interesting to see an episode so devoted to television, and for that matter a season devoted to it. Between the inner-workings of the pilot process, with Charlie getting dumped off of his own script for being too unlikeable with audiences, and here the look into the television department at Ari’s agency, the show is really making a concerted effort to investigate that side of things.
- However, as an offshoot of this, there was some confusion amongst regular viewers on how the television industry works: they were confused as to why Ed Burns (who directed the pilot to Drama’s series) wasn’t the one in the casting session. Of course, TV nuts like myself recognized Timothy Busfeld, a regular actor for Aaron Sorkin and a television director, as the one handling the sessions, and know that for dramas there is a revolving door of directors depending on the show. Burns would have gone back to being executive producers once the show began in earnest.
- I’m not sure which was more sad: Vince joining Facebook, or E playing online poker and then thinking it was lunchtime when it was actually only 10am. I will say this much, though: a show about guys being bored can’t go on forever.