Thursday, May 17, 2007


"Entourage" drives me crazy. For starters, never in my life did I imagine I would hate a Jane's Addiction song. But the opening credits for the show have made me despise "Superhero." The tone set by that credit sequence reminds me what I don't like about "Entourage", namely it's superficiality. In general, the show is as paper thin as the garlic Fat Clemenza used to slice with a razor blade. Not that I need tremendous depth from a story about a movie star and his posse, but something to care about would be nice. While the superficial nature of the program is indeed representative of Hollywood life, it doesn't necessarily make for great television.

My biggest issue with the show is character development, or lack thereof. Besides Ari, I can't think of a single significant thing that has happened to any of the main characters. They go up a little bit, they go down a little bit, the movie is on, the movie is off, etc., etc. I don't require the standard sitcom axiom of seeing characters learn lessons and show growth every episode. But here we are in Season 3, and it seems like everyone except Ari is in practically the same place they were in the pilot. Finally, in this past Sunday's episode, we had something to care about. Because the characters actually cared about something. Vince showed a passion for the Pablo Escobar project that you'd expect from a theoretically high-minded superstar in the making. We often see him sticking to his principles about what movies he wants to make or doesn't want to make, but we rarely see him play the power game that underlies so much of the entertainment industry. As someone in the business of show, that's the kind of stuff I want to see. For example, in an episode last season, when Ari is about to defect from his agency to start his own and has to sit down with the heads of the rival agencies, it felt like we were getting a peek behind the curtain. And it made for somewhat compelling drama, which is really the most we can expect from "Entourage."

Speaking of drama, if this past episode taught us anything, it's that Johnny Drama should be the center of the show. Ari may be the funniest character, but Drama is the most vulnerable. He's the only one who consistently shows emotion, and consequently, the one we care about the most. He's the underdog in a town where the favorite wins nine times out of ten. But that one upset win is something truly worth rooting for. The last shot of "The Resurrection" illustrates my point perfectly. Drama finds out his new TV show is a hit, drops to his knees, looks out over the Grand Canyon, raises his arms, and yells, "Victory!" I actually found myself with a rush of good feelings for the character. It might have been the most visceral moment in the run of the show. But did it have to take three seasons to get there?

My frustration with "Entourage" is that it could be so much more. The setup is there, but it rarely delivers anything surprising. And I've already lowered my expectations to accommodate the show's limitations. More often than not, I get to the end of an episode and say out loud, "That's it?" It goes by like a California breeze, but it doesn't have enough gust to blow out the smog.

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