Monday, July 23, 2007

"I'll have a $2 million advance check cut today. How horrible.": Entourage

Much like HS with 24 last season, I am beginning to dread recapping each episode of Entourage. It's not like the show is nigh-unwatchable or anything. It's just stuck in a rut, one where the writing seems particularly lazy and slow and the laughs just ain't coming. Jeremy Piven has always been Entourage's cleanup hitter when it comes to yuks, but the whole gang could usually be relied on to merrily roll things along, even in the most plot-thin weeks. These days, like I said last week, it's like there are two or three different shows (with occasional interactions) going on at the same time, each of them only consequential enough to be called a sketch.

This week, there was another installment in "The Hi-larious Hi-jinks of Drama and Turtle", in which Louis Lombardi (Ed-guh Sty-uhls of 24, fondly remembered and cruelly whacked) rolled in as a shlubby shyster relative of Drama's (or Turtle's, I wasn't really listening) looking for cash to fund a get-rich-quick scheme. Now, look. I know most comedies on television (most SHOWS on television) are guilty of recycling their formula a thousand different times in different episodes, but this is getting ri-god-damn-diculous. It literally goes like this: in scene one, Turtle and Drama set up their plot at breakfast with Vinnie and E (who I'll get to in a minute). One of them is usually excited about it, and the other cautious. In scene two, a nutty guest star compounds the plot somehow. In scene three, Drama does something arrogant or ridiculous that you know's gonna end up with him getting bitten in the ass. In scene four, Drama is made to look ridiculous (usually in public), and Turtle tuts. Guest star is gone, never to be seen again. This has happened every week since the documentary episode, and I'm wondering if one day Drama won't just end up murdering Turtle, or vice versa. I've nothing more to say about this.

As bad as Drama and Turtle can be, how bout Vinnie and Eric? I've even less to say about this, but it really does feel like a whole different show, an industry pastiche that's getting more intricate and boring by the episode. Eric has gone from being the supposedly helpful chief pal of Vinnie's to a whiny, obstructive presence in the actor's life, folding his arms and throwing a strop about having to be around Billy Walsh again despite it being for a project Vinnie is into (and, let's be honest, desperately needs). Where, WHERE is the comedy? Where is the ANYTHING? We're in our sixth episode and so far the season's central plot has been that Eric and Billy Walsh don't particularly like each other. Vinnie, too, a character I've always appreciated for being a defuser of some of the show's more hyperactive situations, is literally barely detectable these days. He sort of half-agrees with everyone, but really only speaks when he's spoken to!

Yesterday's episode, "The WeHo Ho" threw in an Ari-Lloyd story, in the interest of keeping things presentable. Sadly, it was pretty much a misfire. Mostly because Ari and Lloyd weren't at all together during the ep--their interaction mainly consisted of Ari screaming down the phone at Lloyd, bedridden with grief over a breakup. Waving away backup assistants, Ari decides he must have his Lloyd and tracks down his boyfriend to talk him into un-dumping him. Who cares? I love Ari and Lloyd's banter and skulduggery in their industry plots, but this stuff is pretty useless. Ari's homophobia is a joke beaten to death (indeed, even the references these days are delivered with a sort of insouciant offhandedness by Piven), and by now we're all very aware that Ari and Lloyd have a special bond. It was terrific when Lloyd lectured Ari in his car in the season 2 ep "Exodus", yes. That was a long time ago. Sort it out, Ellin! And bring back Debi Mazar already!

Jeez. With a heavy heart, I shall say see you next week.


Carrie said...

I totally agree. The 30 minutes I spend watching Entourage every week are a total waste of time. It's like the entire writing staff decided to take a vacation and left one write-by-the-numbers plot around for someone else to complete every week while they sip pina coladas on the beach, and the plot can't change because they only left one template. Argh.

Conservative Futurist said...

Yeah, you're right on about the Drama-Turtle crap. The minute Turtle mentioned he had a scheme, and Drama was opposed to it (at breakfast), I knew Drama was going to end up getting in deep over it. It's, as you say, ri-gosh-damn-diculous.

I also agree about Vinny being somewhat sidelined, and Eric's whininess. However, I thought the end of the episode was great. When E stood up to Ari and Vinny and told them he thought Billy had peaked, and was basically a wreck waiting to happen, I thought the show had come back to what makes it great. I have a feeling E will be right about this, and Medellin will tank at Cannes. E has always had the ability to see through the crap, and seems to know when to get out (where as Vinny likes to recklessly roll forward). It would be an interesting twist to see Vinny fall on hard times because of Medellin, and see a season about reviving his career.