September 7th, 2008
When I was a guest on the /Filmcast After Dark last week, we were previewing the shows to look forward to this fall, and I’ll admit to being somewhat negative about Entourage. Actually, scratch that ‘somewhat’: my exact language was that the fourth season of Entourage was, well “sh*t.” And I’ll stand by that statement: opening and closing with interesting bookends of the Medellin journey, the rest of the season was one long waiting game that never went anywhere new, interesting or funny enough to justify its lack of plot.
Of all of the shows I review here at Cultural Learnings, or elsewhere, Entourage seems to be the most resistant to the very concept of criticism: many have argued with me that it’s just a show about adolescent wish fulfilment, about these characters living the Hollywood dream, and that any attempts to read into its depth or its plot are misguided and, at worst, pointless. I won’t attempt to argue that the show, as a half hour comedy, is not attempting to be equivalent to, say, Mad Men, but the show has demonstrated in the past its ability to bring something more than just juvenile comedy to its characters and its settings.
The thing about “Fantasy Island” is that the show has once again reminded me of how good it can be, seamlessly integrating commentary on the state of the film industry with the type of comedy that’s just guys being guys. Transitioning from Vince’s Mexican sabbatical into his new reality as a Hollywood has-been, the episode touches on E’s transformation into a mini-Ari, deals with the continued fallout of Medellin on Ari, Vince and E’s lives, and includes enough small if insignificant moments for Drama and Turtle to feel like the gang is getting back together in a meaningful fashion.
And unlike last season, where everything was downhill after a strong and witty premiere, I feel like the show is actually moving towards something that feels like a story arc related to its characters. And while there’s every chance that it could fall off in the end, for now I have to admit it: Entourage’s fifth season is not, as of yet, sh*t.