ENTOURAGE “Home Sweet Home” Season 8 Episode 1 Review

ENTOURAGE “Home Sweet Home” Season 8 Episode 1 – Greetings, Aquaman fans, Uncle Axey here, taking the Daemon’s reins for this, Entourage‘s 8th and final season. As with most series’ that I am new to reviewing, I will start out with an overview of the primary characters—my thoughts on them as characters, the actors who play them, as well as the dramatic events currently unfolding about them.

But first I need to touch on my thoughts of where the series has been going in general.

When it first premiered, Entourage was brilliant. In part the brain-child of Mark Wahlberg (a man who knows a thing or two about fame and its often fickle, bizarre nature), Entourage felt like a voyeuristic peek inside the churning guts of Hollywood; a sharp satire in a place virtually made for satires. The fact that so many insiders and critics hailed it as a dead-on parody made it even more viable, and early buzz led to a successful run that lasted years.

Sadly—as Vincent Chase is himself learning (no doubt a theme the production is touching on purposefully)—the party has to end somewhere. The quality in Entourage‘s storytelling has been in steady decline, and last season even felt forced, as though the team were trying to find some way to balance “honest” (addiction, in this case) storytelling with the “boys backslap one another and Ari screams a bit” dynamic that so many people have said they love about the series.

And that can be a problem. When too many people told R. A. Salvatore he wrote kickass fight scenes in his Driz’zt Do’Urden novels, well, that’s pretty much all they became for a while: one fight scene after the other. And it felt as though Entourage was doing the same. “So long as we get to do a bit where Vince, Johnny, E and Turtle pal around the pool table, and so long as Ari yells at Lloyd somewhere in the episode, we can sort of do what we want with the rest.”

It felt like a quota. Was it any wonder last season ended so badly? When you’re relying on Sasha Grey to provide your strong female presence, let’s face it: at least one of the tires has fallen off the truck.

I wish I could say it looks as though the eighth and final season is going to be better. I really can’t, because I can’t tell yet. “Home Sweet Home” (written and directed by Doug Ellin) picks up 90 days after Vincent’s arrest. Let’s touch base with our peeps, shall we?

Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier): Vinnie is out of rehab after a 90-day stint, his usual “I’m not worried about anything” expression firmly locked in place. He doesn’t seem to be much the wiser, especially in his career choices, and as usual the boys treat him with the softest gloves. I’m not sure exactly what they’re so afraid of; the dude isn’t Christian freaking Bale, he isn’t going to Sean Pen his brother in the face. Sure he’s sensitive, but what actor isn’t? Dude needs tough love. And as usual…

Eric “E” Murphy (Kevin Connolly): … is the guy to do it. Connolly is an actor with some ability to show occasional nuance, but sadly that’s not today. Ellin’s script doesn’t have him doing much besides moping over the fact that Vinnie didn’t call him to come pick him up (as if E doesn’t have a calendar and can’t count to 90). Of course you could argue the moping is mostly due to the fact that he was once again kicked to the curb by Sloan (Emmanuelle Chiqui). This is the same Sloan who is generally supposed to provide the “strong female presence” Sasha Grey slinked into last season, but as usual—aside from a smoky voice and occasional flashes of hot anger—I haven’t seen her contribute much to the story at all. Hell, we usually just see her as she’s coming or going. And she’s usually complaining. Here’s to hoping E stays permanently kicked and we see less of her.

Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon): Easily the guy with the biggest comedic talent on the show (it’s really neck-and-neck between Dillon and Piven), Drama was once again tragically underused. At least Ellin seems to be priming Johnny for an upswing in popularity; it’s kind of overdue, and I would love to see the tables reversed and have Drama’s comeback be so huge that he eclipses his younger, better-looking brother. Johnny’s Bananas is at least an amusing concept, but I’d like to see more. Next episode we get to see Dillon go mano-a-mano with none other than Andrew “Dice” Clay, so that should provide some entertainment. More Drama!

Turtle (Jerry Ferrara): I guess congratulations are now in order, now that Turtle seems to be the skinniest guy on the show. How the hell did that happen? And more to the point, why the hell wouldn’t they address it in the story? Is Ferrara in denial that he was ever even slightly chubby? This is weird. I know, Ferrara’s a good guy, seems like a great personality, the kind of dude you would love to hang with. But he’s a terrible actor. Really. Sasha Grey has shown better range. He’s just sort of … Turtle. I guess his whining and his Leave It To Beaver “Awww, dad, I’m sorry” meekness have a place in here somewhere (he’s the guy we love to see lose), but I want them to remain in the background.

Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven): For the record, I love Piven. Hell, I thought he deserved an Oscar nod for Smokin’ Aces (I’m not joking, stop laughing)—a movie in which he basically played Ari on a cocaine drip with lots of people trying to kill him. But Ari the desperate, loving family man just stretches the realm of believability for me. Granted he’s not-so-secretly based off of a real person (Wahlberg’s agent Ari Emanuel), so the moment you paint him as a philanderer or anyone really duplicitous, you could have a pissed-off agent on your hands. But it usually screws with my suspension of disbelief when we see what amounts to being, in most cases, a toothless man, especially in the face of losing his boring harridan of a wife. Seriously, Ari—you could do better. I dunno. Feels like he’s just gotten soft.

Lloyd (Rex Lee): He’s still Lloyd. I wish they’d go somewhere interesting with him, but I’m not sure Lee has the range. I feel like he’s sort of told, “Just stay fabulous,” and that’s as far as that goes. I don’t want more Lloyd if he’s not better Lloyd.

I think when all’s said and done, the strength of Entourage is not even supposed to be in its acting, but rather in the production making us feel like we’re privy to things we’ve never seen (but possibly have imagined) before. That was the strength of the first four or five seasons: we’d just never seen anything like this. It’s pure Hollywood: a world most of us aren’t accustomed to. It was fresh and completely different.

I’m hoping they end it that way. I don’t want to see Entourage as rote. Let’s end this with a bang!

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