Never have I religiously continued to watch a show I so detest as I have continued to watch the deplorable “Entourage.” For whatever reason, every Sunday night at 10:30 I’m back in front of the TV cringing through twentysomething hard-to-endure minutes of lame plots, boring cardboard characters, excruciatingly mundane and unoriginal ideas, and trite dialogue.
I don’t even think Doug Ellin and his cast and writing staff are still trying. Take last Sunday’s episode which was supposed to end with a moment of great pathos, when, in the final scene, dunderheaded charismaless “A-list” movie star Vincent Chase returns to his house alone, confused, and saddened that he has to spend the wee hours of the night with just his brain to keep him company. (”Entourage” viewers lament this fact on a weekly basis.)
Who hasn’t been crushed by an overwhelming sense of loneliness and despair? Everyone has. And we viewers might feel for Vinnie if not just an hour earlier in his night, in the episode’s penultimate scene, he got to fuck a 10-out-of-10-hot one-night-stand in his brand new Escalade. Oh, not to mention, Vinnie has just attended the premiere of his new soon-to-be-both-critically-and-commercially-successful movie, Martin Scorsese’s “The Great Gatsby” retelling, in which he stars. (Though it’s hard to imagine what role the effete and dull Vincent could possibly be fit to play. My bet’s on Daisy Buchanan.) And, have we mentioned that the house he’s alone in is a massive double-digit bedroomed mansion in the Hollywood Hills?! Oh, whoa is me, Vinnie Chase!
And that demonstrates the exact problem with “Entourage.” Its storytelling lacks any sort of tension, any sort of drama, any sort of human problems, which are the basis for truly good comedy. Each week new-but-similar plot pivot points are brought up and within minutes they are solved and Vinnie and the boys go back to living a life of mind-numbing leisure. Which would be perfectly fine if it was actually enjoyable to watch. Which it’s not.
It’s always been hard to buy Vincent Chase as a huge movie star and the “best young actor of his generation” because, well, the actor that plays him, Adrien Grenier, is neither handsome enough, talented enough, or interesting enough to be anything more than a pay cable semi-star which ipso facto means he is not a “Vincent Chase.” Most of the other acting, though, is admittedly passable. Jerry Ferrara as Turtle is one-note but enjoyable enough, perhaps the only lovable character still on the show. Kevin Dillon as Johnny Drama used to be a highlight of each episode with a good self-deprecatingly inward zinger or two toward his own lackluster career but now he’s become just a pathetic old manchild more concerned with making fun of who good buddy “E” is or is not fucking. (In one of the lamest running plot gags in “Entourage” history, and that’s saying something, Drama has become obsessed with razzing E for maybe still having feelings for former flame Sloan as played by Emmanuelle Chriqui. I don’t know about you, but I usually goof on my friends that are fucking one of the hottest women since the invention of breasts and vaginas.) Speaking of E, Kevin Connelly seems to have developed some disease which is causing him to shrink at a rather alarming rate. Always lilliputian, this season Connelly has become downright pocket-size, looking like some crows-feet-eyed ventriloquist dummy who gets to hang out with a movie star and fuck women that could tomahawk dunk on his wee head. (Hmmm…that gives me an idea for a new pilot.) I do actually like Connelly and think he is a skilled enough actor but Ellin does him no favors with the dialogue he places into his tiny mouth. You can almost see Connelly cringing as he delivers feeble line after feeble line. I feel bad for him. Even Jeremy Piven as agent Ari Gold has become downright boring, though he’s such a good actor and such a better character than everyone else that by comparison he seems to be operating on an incredibly elevated comedic stratosphere.
Lame plots, boring cardboard characters, excruciatingly mundane and unoriginal ideas, and trite dialogue. You might say, “Entourage” isn’t supposed to be good, it’s junk food for the brain. Fair enough, but it’s not even good junk food. It’s not Sour Patch Kids but Brand X Sour Gooeys. I could stomach the show in its first few seasons when it was actually presenting a world anyone of us would want to be a part of: lots of fast rides, hard parties, and bare breasts. But these ennui-riddled characters don’t do any of these things any more and it’s actually alarming how few bare breasts now appear on the show per week. You get as much out of the “On next week’s ‘Entourage’” thirty-second teaser as you do watching a full episode.
If you want some actually enjoyable comedy junk food for the brain to replace “Entourage,” might I suggest Showtime’s “Californication,” now through two seasons. While no masterpiece and perhaps not even a great or even very good show, it is an incredibly enjoyable show and an eminently digestible one. The story of a famous New York novelist turned Hollywood fuckup, “Californication” revels in presenting onscreen similiar Los Angeleno pleasures as “Entourage,” laziness, driving fast cars around all day with no purpose, drinking, drug use, partying, and promiscuous sex, but it is all shown in such a more interesting and realistic way. Like “Entourage” the show isn’t much about “anything” but it has sharp dialogue, funny and original situations, three-dimensional characters, the effortless charm and comedic chops of David Duchovny who is truly a great actor, and a Warren Zevon-infused soundtrack. If you start this show on DVD or OnDemand you will burn through it quickly. You won’t be talking about it or obsessed with it by any means by the time it’s over, and aside from Duchovny’s work you will have probably forgotten it within weeks if not months, but while watching it you will be highly entertained.
Going back to the late great Warren Zevon, his best song is fittingly “The French Inhaler,” a scathing critique of Hollywood dreams gone awry. An all-time favorite track of mine, listening to the lyrics I can’t help but think the crummy “Entourage” would do good to take its cues from the brilliant song to realize how truly worthless it is. How soon it will be just another piece of shit in television history if it doesn’t have a little course correction. Were he not dead Zevon could have easily been talking about “Entourage” when he wrote this great piece of poetry.
How’re you going to make your way in the world, woman
When you weren’t cut out for working
When your fingers are slender and frail
How’re you going to get around
In this sleazy bedroom town
If you don’t put yourself up for sale
Where will you go with your scarves and your miracles
Who’s gonna know who you are
Drugs and wine and flattering light
You must try it again till you get it right
Maybe you’ll end up with someone different every night
All these people with no home to go home to
They’d all like to spend the night with you
Maybe I would, too
But tell me
How’re you going to make your way in the world, woman
When you weren’t cut out for working
And you just can’t concentrate
And you always show up late
You said you were an actress
Yes, I believe you are
I thought you’d be a star
So I drank up all the money,
Yes, I drank up all the money,
With these phonies in this Hollywood bar,
These friends of mine in this Hollywood bar
Loneliness and frustration
We both came down with an acute case
And when the lights came up at two
I caught a glimpse of you
And your face looked like something
Death brought with him in his suitcase
Your pretty face
It looked so wasted
Another pretty face
The French Inhaler
He stamped and mailed her
“So long, Norman”
She said, “So long, Norman”
I think I’m done with “Entourage.” As the failed actress said to her pimp in “The French Inhaler”:
“So long, Norman.”
10% ABV bottled
I had the great fortune to try my first ever De Struise beers over the weekend, not coincidentally their two most famed creations, both mainstays on Beer Advocate’s Top 100 list. First up, the supposed #43 beer in the world, Pannepot. There is so much going on with this beer, it is truly as complex as they come. Like a mix between a quad and a stout, maybe even a strong ale, it’s really hard to even accurately categorize it. A potent aroma you can smell across the room, packed with tastes of coffee, bourbon, and vanilla along with subtle hints of candi, molasses, cookies, caramel, sugar, and spice and everything nice. I’m not sure if this beer is oaked or not, but it sure tastes like it. I can’t believe how much flavor is packed into this thing. It reminded me of a glorious Rochefort 10 with a whole buncha spices mixed in. A true highlight of my beer-drinking year! Seek out at all costs.
13% ABV bottled
Next up I had De Struise’s stout Black Albert which teeters at the bottom of the BA Top 100. I found Black Albert a little too burnt, bitter, and dull for my liking. A muted coffee flavor, the smell was more enjoyable than the taste. Somewhat thin and quite drinkable for the highfalutin ABV, I just didn’t love it, yet I still had to admit it was good and well-crafted. It just made me wish I was still drinking Pannepot.