Sunday, July 31, 2011

Entourage "Out With a Bang" Review

Yeah, Entourage hasn't changed.

The series will end after the season. TV critics have written about the totality of the show already, and will do so again, because of its promised end date. I already wrote about how folk attempted to find something meaningful and timeless in the show and about the show. 60 Minutes, of all programs, interviewed the cast and Mark Wahlberg about the show and its legacy. The actors discussed the difference between themselves and their characters. Kevin Connolly made the ridiculous declaration that Entourage boasts the strongest female characters in television.

Maybe Doug Ellin aspired for something more in the final season, one wondered with the positive press emerging about the series. Of course, Entourage is Entourage. The press is merely a case HBO's reputation as a brand for quality television. If you want to read my thoughts about that, just peruse the archives for last week's Entourage review.

The season took shape in "Out with a Bang" and the structure's strikingly similar to seasons past on the show. Vince wrote an outline for his TV movie. Billy read the outline and likes the story enough to write the teleplay. So, the ball rolls in in that arc. The whiskey business chose Turtle's girlfriend as its model. She's ignored his phone calls, so Turtle ended the relationship. E and Sloane had sex then she revealed her plans to move to New York City. Drama and Andrew Dice Clay worried about the testing screening for Johnny Bananas. Naturally, the test screening went swimmingly for Drama and Dice Clay; however, Dice Clay wants revenge for the years he's been screwed by the industry. Ari learned that Mrs. Ari's dating Bobby Flay.

I have issues with every single arc for the season. Ari's arc's the only one with some originality while the others have been done in one way or another. For instance, Sloane and E's back-and-forth relationship is six or seven years old (and I mean old, friends and well-wishers). One scene, in particular, tries to create more meaningful context for the relationship than actually exists. The engagement ended badly because of the pre-up. E's been reluctant to move his stuff out of Sloane's. The tension's high between them; however, their respective anger stems from a vague place because Ellin's decided against telling the whole story. So, Sloane treats E terribly; E treats Sloane terribly. They wonder how all that they worked for, against all odds, in spite of the hardships they faced in their years together could be ruined, then they fornicate and all's forgiven. But wait, she's moving to New York.

Structurally, Aly Mushika and Doug Ellin have the beats of the story right, the motivations and the stakes (as poor as they are but it's sound structurally); however, what the hell kind of hardships existed for Sloane and E? Their relationship was given the depth of an ice cream cone. I suppose their big hardship was the threesome they had with a tertiary female character, who E briefly fell in love with until he realized Sloane loved him. Besides that, I remember conflicts that involved Terrence but not the specific conflicts. Again, my memory of Entourage episodes are terrible. I can name every episode of LOST, Buffy and ANGEL in seven minutes but not a single Entourage episode. Essentially, the Sloane-E arc's annoying because the new conflict is very old.

Vince and Billy's arc is sort of a redemption piece for the Medellin disaster. I only suggest that interpretation because Vince specifically mentioned how poorly he and Billy worked together on the last project. I wonder why Vince approached Billy before a TV studio because Billy's too cinematic for a TV project. The movie's destined for numerous polishes (but probably not in Entourage). The arc's nothing new for Vince (unless one argues that he's in the role of the writer instead of the actor). Medellin's memory's bound to create conflict; a TV executive might not like the first draft (major conflict in this damn show). I'd like Entourage to use Vince's role as a writer to show how difficult professional writing is, how the best scripts by the best scripts land on the Black List, how hard it is to have one's script produced. But they won't, and that's why this show sucks.

The only other arc worth writing about is Drama and Dice Clay's because of its reversal of the usual Drama arc. His projects bound to be a hit but Andrew Dice Clay wants to take revenge on Hollywood for how the system continually screwed him after the spotlight left him. I'll use the word annoying to describe the seeds of the arc because the word captures the essence of the arc--it's annoying. Why the hell would Drama indulge Dice Clay? The episode suggests that test screenings make or break actors (and, yes, a role will be re-cast if scores are poor for one actor) but I doubt a positive test screening makes Dice Clay untouchable. If one powerful producer learned that he wanted to submarine the project then they'd intervene. Of course, this is Entourage, so the arc will drag, Andrew Dice Clay will act like an idiot and Drama will be torn between the project and this actor.

I love television because of its ability to tell long-form narratives on a weekly basis and for its attention to memorable, fully developed characters (and for many more seasons). TV frustrates me, though, because of how lazy the storytelling can be. What's the point of Entourage? What is the purpose of any of the arcs in the final season? What do the writers want to say about Hollywood, their lifestyle, their relationships, professions and friendships through the stories? Nothing. The characters need something to do for 8 episodes so the writers throw shit against the wall and put it in the production draft.


1 comment:

darci said...

Of course we know that E will eventually either convince Sloan to stay and they get together, or he will move to NY to be with her as Entourage's way of channeling Disney kids movie endings, but I still find it so hard to watch the poor guy struggle! He just tries so hard and is so sincere with everything, yet you see when Sloan just wakes up and leaves how confused and unsure of himself he evidenced by when he talks about it with the guys after he sleeps with her (watch at yeah gotta love the use of that Rootbeer song "Girlies" in that scene, that's so catchy

Anyway, good episode, glad the show's back and can't wait to see how this season goes...

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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.