In the first instalment of a new column on TV programmes, Jacob Knowles-Smith reviews Entourage
As anyone who has ever read Casanova’s memoirs knows, even the Great Seducer was knocked back once or twice. But it took seven seasons of Entourage and a drug problem for Vincent Chase, arguably a modern-day equivalent, to get himself turned down by a woman. The comparison falters a bit when remembering that Vince (Adrian Grenier) is, of course, fiction and Casanova wasn’t; though it could just be that reality isn’t what it once was and in that in the 21st century and the culture of mutual usage a man of Casanova’s ability let loose in LA could indeed make up those notches on his bedposts. This doesn’t say much for feminism but then neither did Sex and the City.
When one thinks of the great HBO dramas, Entourage doesn’t immediately come to mind and, even keeping in mind that it’s billed as a comedy-drama, perhaps this is because it took all those seasons to ever offer much more than a hint of the underbelly of Hollywood. This is not to say that all television drama must necessarily be dark, but Hollywood is a gift horse – and it has rotten teeth. Only now are we seeing the binges taking their toll, actions and words having not just consequences but ending in legal trouble and rehab; the latter of which Vince emerges at the start of the eighth (and final) season seemingly free of previous troubles. Troubles that might cause the hardened nose candy veteran of Hollywood to slightly disturb the mountain of coke before them with a snicker before they planted their face into it for breakfast. It remains to be seen if Vince can stick at the clean living – but enough talk about him. Lovely as he is, he’s always been least interesting character. The clue, after all, is in the title.
Whilst Vince is busy pitching a clanger of a film for himself, perhaps to ward off feeling sorry for himself, the rest of the crew have problems of their own. Eric, Turtle and Ari are all having difficulties with girls and the incomparable Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) is on the cusp of animated glory. Without going into too much detail, the girl trouble is much the same in Hollywood as it is the world over: how to keep the women in their lives happy whilst dealing with the ass that is the spokesman for every man’s ego and, again almost universally, the solution seems to lie in getting drunk and getting angry. Such foibles make an otherwise despicable character like Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) the kind of person you’d like to go for a drink with, or at least have as your agent. On the other hand, Drama’s ego allows him to be so self-satisfied with his status as a lady killer that he is free to pursue his professional activities (though he wouldn’t even have them if he hadn’t, for once, shown some contrition at the end of the last season). The biggest threat to the success of Drama’s new ape-themed cartoon comedy seems to be the complications that may be provided by his co-star – the ghastly ‘Diceman’ whom some may still remember from his comedy-free comedy in the late-eighties/early-nineties. Entourage has always kept up the fine tradition started by The Larry Sander’s Show of celebrities appearing as loathsome caricatures of themselves. Perhaps not always caricatures – Seth Green might be a prick. Either way, ‘Diceman’ is just one less vowel away from having a more appropriate title.
This is, as mentioned, the final season of Entourage and the small screen will certainly suffer for the loss of the show’s piquant camaraderie that bestows the greatest gift of all on the viewer: feeling like one of the boys. Whether or not the big screen – a movie is planned to crown the series – will allow the show to be as clever as it is in its present incarnation, is a matter for internet forum debaters to tackle for the subsequent decades. As for the rest of the diehards, we’ll keep the show alive in box set heaven until our own difficult other-halves suggest better uses for the space taken up by our DVDs.
If fast cars and rehab isn’t your scene, you may’ve caught My Life as a Turkey on BBC2. This Natural World special was the charming and curious tale of biologist Joe Hutto and his family of wild turkeys. The premise is surreal enough to have been a subplot in Northern Exposure but, guided by Hutto’s dulcets, we move through the story of how one man became mother to a whole clutch of turkeys and become fascinated by his dedication to both the birds themselves and the pursuit of science. Only the greatest philistines and cynics of the age could fail to experience joy at the sight of the birds being driven to utter distraction by a turtle, or even a pang of regret imagining how much understanding of our own world we’ve lost compared to so unworldly-looking bird as a turkey.
Read Jacob Knowles-Smith’s reviews of Lead Balloon and Curb Your Enthusiasm here and on Damages and Breaking Bad here