Entourage skewers Hollywood with witty fun
Like Office Space years before it, Entourage spoke to me and millions of 20- to 30-year-olds who were slowly coming to grips with the reality that their dreams of being a professional athlete, a legendary hip hop star, young billionaire or a movie star were sadly not going to happen.
Creator Doug Ellin could have easily made yet another show from the perspective of an actor enjoying the good life, but he found a far more fascinating approach in tackling it from the side of the best friends. It was an ingenious take as it allowed the viewers who didn’t get one of life’s golden tickets to more easily envision themselves in the background roles of Eric ‘E’ (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny ‘Drama’ (Kevin Dillon) while Vince (Adrian Grenier), the star in any other show, takes a backseat to his far more engaging friends.
And for those who couldn’t relate to the carefree lifestyle of Vince and company, Jeremy Piven’s scene stealing take as super agent Ari Gold was a tirade-laced dynamo that perfectly embodied the manic workaholic determined to control his own fate.
Entourage Season 1 is one of the shorter installments with only eight episodes, yet it features some of the series’ best episodes. ‘Entourage’ didn’t need to take a season or two to find its voice as the first four are some of the best of the series. The second half is a notch below, but introduces a slew of pivotal characters that would become essential throughout the rest of the show’s run. Time for a closer look.
Ep. 1 – Pilot
Celebrity cameo: Ali Larter as one of Vince’s jilted lovers
The boys are preparing for the opening of Vince’s new movie ‘Head On.’ The four leads’ chemistry is so natural and feels like an exchange that could easily be had anytime four friends are hanging out. Turtle is the perfect hype man who backs Vince’s every decision, Drama is always hounding his baby bro for parts and E is busy dealing with Ari who’s trying to get Vince to sign off on a new role.
Early Ari was cheating on his wife and Ellin wisely ditched that character trait as Ari had more than enough issues that being an adulterer seemed like overkill. The scene where Turtle is happy to get Vince’s leftovers felt fittingly accurate. Turtle gets Arnold, a dog with some attitude issues, so Vince makes him suit up in New York Rangers goalie gear to get him in line. That fun playfulness between Vince and his boys help to show no matter the circumstances and lavish lifestyle, these guys were family/friends first and it became a calling card for the series.
Episode rating: 9.5 As a first episode, you rarely find much better as it quickly established the characters, how amazing this life Vince was living, the ‘here’s a hot girl, there’s a hot girl, everywhere a hot girl’ scenery, expertly chosen soundtrack and how much fun it would be to just tag along for the ride.
Ep.2 The Review
The reviews are in for ‘Head On’ and they’re not all kind so Ari encourages E to make sure Vince has a good time. While visiting Ari’s office, Vince is intrigued by Justine Chase (Leighton Meester), a singer who alleges she’s not giving up her virginity until she’s married and E is immediately captivated by Ari’s new assistant Emily (Samarie Armstrong).
This was the first episode Ari dropped his famed ‘Let’s hug it out,’ but the scene-stealer this time was Paul Herman as Marvin, Vince’s short-tempered financial consultant.
Marvin: You guys are out of control. Twenty five hundred dollars a month his brother spends on vitamin supplements. Nobody can take that many supplements and still f#$%@g live!
Episode rating: 9.5 Jessica Alba having a significant cameo aside this was another winner as we see the depths to which E and Ari have to go to protect Vince’s ego from negative feedback.
Ep.3 The Talk Show
Celebrity cameos: Sara Foster as Vince’s one-night stand, Jimmy Kimmel who invites Vince on his show, Luke Wilson who tips Drama and Turtle off on a TV hook up, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis at a boxing match and Sarah Silverman who’s hanging out in Kimmel’s green room
After catching a boxing match, Jimmy Kimmel invites Vince on the show to promote ‘Head On.’ Drama reveals a previously untold long-standing beef between the two. As E explains his breakup sex with Kristen (Monica Keena), Vince surprises everyone with his revelation that he’s never broken up with any of his girlfriends, which comes back to bite him when Kimmel also has Foster, another girl Vince loved and left.
Turtle and Drama meet Rufus (Marlon Young), a hilariously gruff home theater business owner who promises a hookup if they manage to plug his shop. At Kimmel, E continues his flirtation with a clearly interested Emily and the truth behind Drama and Kimmel’s beef comes to light leading to a great night.
This episode marked the introduction of Vince’s take no crap publicist Shauna (Debi Mazar) who doesn’t want the boys ruining Vince’s talk show appearance.
Best Line (tie):
Drama: I was on Arsenio. It never aired though cause he got cancelled.
Shauna: What are you laughing at? Maybe I’ll get you on Montel with Don Swayze, Joey Travolta and the other retarded star siblings.
Episode rating: 10 Of the first season if there was one episode to show someone to get them hooked on the show, this is the easy choice.
Ep.4 Date Night
Per their ritual for the debut of one of Vince’s new movies, the boys are planning to have a quiet night together, but E breaks rank to accept Emily’s dinner invitation. Vince decides to make it a date night for everyone and thanks to help from radio host Big Boy, Vince gets a date with Justine. Drama continues to be the unpredictable loose cannon by stealing batteries from remotes at the radio station and dating the aggressive fitness model Tanya (Kristiana Wolfe).
With no date of his own, Turtle decides to fly in one of Vince’s obsessed fans (Charlotte Ayanna) and things go predictably out of hand during the date to Lucky Strike and a club while Ari frets about the box office numbers and the Pixar squirrel. Turtle has a great moment as he ‘spoils’ the Pixar film ending for the line of moviegoers.
Mrs. Ari (Perrey Reeves) debuts and we quickly learn who wears the pants in the household despite Ari’s frequent outbursts. Vince tells Justine he doesn’t want to work to sleep with her, which was part of the reason he got in the business in the first place.
Vince: I can’t watch myself again.
Drama: I love watching myself.
E: Too bad the audience doesn’t.
Episode rating: 9.5 This episode felt like a scene many viewers could relate to where it’s a massive group date that ends badly. Ari hanging out with the guys was another welcome new dynamic and the first disc in the set ends on a great note.