ENTOURAGE “Motherf*cker” Review

ENTOURAGE The Big Bang

ENTOURAGE “Motherf*cker” Season 8 Episode 5:

I always say one of the best measuring sticks for the quality of a show is a gauge of its guest stars and its bit players. This is no exception for shows like Entourage, where—the maniacal Ari and the overreactive Johnny Drama aside—the primary cast is generally expected to be straight men for the insane people that move through their daily lives. Guest stars can basically make or break each episode.

And generally speaking, Entourage does pretty damn well. Casting usually finds the right people to fit whatever roles are required, be they quasi-celebrities, character actors, or walk-on sports figures (though thankfully we’ve seen less jocks this season). And what usually hits the home runs are the actors who play some tweaked-out versions of themselves. I can’t quite put a finger on it, but there’s something delightfully perverse about recognizing an actor or actress and then watching them behave in a way you’ve imagined they really behaved behind closed doors.

For whatever reason, HBO really gets the green light for actors who don’t mind tweaking themselves—probably more than any other show I’ve seen. We’ve seen Mark Wahlberg (an executive producer on the show) flash his peevish side, we’ve seen Gary Busey act totally batshit Gary Busey crazy. Jamie-Lynn Sigler even played herself dating Turtle—and then if that wasn’t unbelievable enough, proceeded to date Jerry Ferrara in real life.

It’s the “people playing themselves” that generally gets the biggest reaction, and even though you know that’s not really who they are (Johnny Galecki playing himself as a total douche comes to mind), it’s still wicked fun.

Which brings me to Melinda Clarke, “playing herself,” vamping it up to the nines as Sloan’s Step-MILF, and ultimately seducing a rather dazed-looking Eric (Kevin Connolly, wearing an “I just got hit by a very fast Porsche” expression). Hell yes, more of this. Clarke is the epitome of the throwback 80’s Dynasty / Dallas actress, and appropriately so; she cut her teeth on soaps like Days of Our Lives and more recently The OC. She plays this sort of role to a T—and you can kind of imagine that’s what she’s like.

And that’s the thing: if it were Melinda Clarke playing a fictional character, it would have less zing. She’s been there, done that so many times you can sort of just pencil the performance in. Sure, it’ll be good, but there’s nothing really fresh about it.

Entourage makes it fresh by making it look real. Selling the fantasy, so to speak.

(And before you say, “Well, that’s all Clarke can really do,” know that she’s got some pretty good range, as evidenced by the fact that she’s only one or two people on Nikita that can actually act, and the fact that she very nearly landed the role that was made famous by Tricia Helfer—Cylon Number Six—on Battlestar Galactica.)

Clarke is hard to not watch. HBO just gets this stuff right. (And Wahlberg probably has more than a little a-hole in him, and Gary Busey is crazy.)

Constance Zimmer as Dana Gordon continues to shine, and her rapid-fire banter with Ari always has sparks… though I am forced to admit it pains me that Ari doesn’t seem to be as into her as she is into him.

I mean, I don’t “ship” people, but come on, Ari. That harpy you call a wife needs a good swift kick. D.T.B.

I’m curious to see where this show is going. It was nice to see a girl Vincent couldn’t seduce (yet), and I have a feeling the article Sophia (a very British Alice Eve) is going to write won’t be very flattering. Is this the beginning of the end? It is the final season, after all. Would be a little bizarre to have Vinnie taken down by the British tabloids, but hey. He wouldn’t be the first.

If you too want to D.T.B., follow me on Twitter! That’s @Axechucker, you beaches!