“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.
September 9th, 2008
For those who read the blog on a regular basis, it seems like the early part of this week is more or less all teen soap operas, all the time – and that’s without me having much to say about the second season of Greek, which I do plan on commenting on at some point in the future (perhaps tonight’s episode, yet unwatched, will do the trick). However, for now, I want to comment on The CW’s newest entry into the field, their choice for a lead-out from 90210. Coming from Rita Mimoun (late of Gilmore Girls, Pushing Daisies and Everwood), this is a series that is definitely not a much buzzed about debut, not does it carry with it any of the same concerns over sexual content.
Instead, it is something very different: a show that, unlike 90210, is taking time to establish its own identity as opposed to simply throwing fascimiles of genre archetypes into a pot and hoping things work themselves out. There are points where Privileged becomes a bit too precocious for its own good, but Mimoun’s time on former WB/CW dramedies has served her well: for every small moment of dialogue that’s a bit too quippy, there is a moment of well-placed exuberance, or heartfelt honesty, that ground the show in something quite compelling. The scenarios here are not “Remember that summer when we met?” but rather complex family conflicts, romantic tension-filled friendships, and just the right amount of characters for us to follow in the early going.
I’m not saying that the show is perfect, but after watching 90210 kind of just flop around earlier in the evening it’s kind of nice to see a show that, for its pilot, completely understands what it wants to be, how it plans on getting there, and what it was about The O.C., Everwood or Gilmore Girls that not only kept people watching, but that sucked people in to people, places, ideas.