Tag Archives: Jamie-Lynn Sigler

Entourage – “Runnin’ on E”

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“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.

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Season Premiere: Entourage – “Drive”

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“Drive”

July 12th, 2009

This review is going to be hugely hypocritical for anyone who’s followed my…less than friendly relationship with Entourage.

See, I’ve always been of the mind that the show is at its best when it engages with its dramatic elements, and taps into something beyond “four bros hanging out.” It’s not a particularly popular opinion, as nearly everyone seems to disagree with me and lists their main reason for watching the show as “four bros hanging out,” but it’s the way the show works for me. And last season, I just kept getting more and more frustrated: the show had numerous opportunities to really engage with some real disruptions to Vince and E’s relationship, and to shake things up a little bit, and yet they refused to take them, leaving the dynamic intact as Vince’s career skyrockets.

So, on that criteria, I should have been really happy with “Drive,” which returns to the narrative with Vince riding a wave of Gatsby-related success but drifting apart from E, who is becoming successful in his own right and beginning to see the benefit of being more independent. The result is actually a really subtle statement about maturity, coupled with a couple of periphery storylines and a distinct lack of highly manufactured drama. Really, the episode should have been everything I should like in a half hour of Entourage: a little sex, a little drama, and more pathos than 99% of the show’s normal viewers like to see.

But, for a variety of reasons, I found this episode to be shockingly pedestrian in a way that baffles me. There was no zing to the one-liners, no bite to Ari Gold, and a distinct lack of any sort of dynamic between the signature foursome. While I’m actually kind of intrigued to see where they go from here, this half hour is the exact opposite of any of my past experiences: while before I found the plot lacking but enjoyed the show’s broad comedy for what it was, here I found absolutely nothing funny or clever to the point where even a storyline I should have liked did nothing for me.

Call me a hypocrite all you want, but this “Drive” never got out of first gear.

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Season Finale: Entourage – “Return to Queens Boulevard”

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“Return to Queens Boulevard”

November 24th, 2008

In the interest of full disclosure, I despised the fourth season of Entourage. It was, to my mind, a show with the absolute worst sense of direction: nowhere. They finished the movie, an admittedly really intriguing little exercise for the show, and then just sat around while it slowly (and mostly in the background in the hands of the incompetent Billy Walsh) imploded to the point of them getting booed out of Cannes. While one could argue the season had a plot, it certainly never properly developed it into character development.

By comparison, the fifth season started with Vince lounging in a secluded beach in Mexico, struggling with Medellin’s failure and not looking to get back in the game. What we saw over the season was a slow build, allowing us to see Eric’s career begin to expand (to the writers of Vince’s movie and to young comic Charlie) while Vince bounces into a picture that was doomed to failure from the beginning. Where we found them in the finale was on a different kind of holiday: no longer simply an escape from a depressive reality, Queens was the equivalent of giving up and going home to regroup. This was not, in other words, a vacation.

So, why did it end like one? One of the most frustration things about Entourage is how much Vince’s life feels inconsequential, that it seems as if this is one enormous vacation where everything will work out in the end based on wish fulfillment and purely illogical events, and that was never more clear than here. We entered the episode with one crisis, Vince’s lack of a job and his tainted name in Hollywood, and midway through there was even (in a stark comparison with the fourth season) a personal, character driven event. And yet, by the end, we’re wholly crisis free.

And that’s the last place Entourage needs to be.

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How I Met Your Mother – “Woooo!”

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“Woooo!”

November 17th, 2008

Scoring its highest ratings since the season premiere, which were close to its series high levels, How I Met Your Mother has grown from a niche success to a bona fide comedy hit, scoring extremely impressive numbers in key demographics in particular. Whether it is the result of the recent stuntcasting trends, or just based on the show’s undeniable quality, How I Met Your Mother has in the span of only a year gone from a show fighting for its life to a show that CBS will be keeping around as long as possible to allow it to expand into syndication.

When that happens, I don’t really know if “Woooo!” is going to resonate very well as an episode of the series in terms of its broad strokes. While the titular expressions of happiness are, as the episode cleverly shows, veiled cries for help amidst a pool of self-pity, this episode lacks a certain level of depth that could help elevate it. The episode returns to the Barney and Marshall battle for Ted’s best friendship, but after last week delved into the question of parenthood this week we see very little on that level of character building.

Instead, what we get is an office in the head of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Strip Club in the Letter “N,” and let’s be clear: on that level, this was a very sharp and (when it repeats in syndication) thoroughly entertaining half hour.

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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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