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Danger Beach: Has "Entourage" Peaked?

I've had a love-hate relationship with HBO's Entourage for the past few seasons. Whereas once I lovingly tuned in for every installment of the bros-before-hos comedy in the beginning of the series, my interest has waned considerably of late.

For one, the series seems to have lost a little of its luster (and a lot of its humor) over the past two seasons or so and the antics of its lead characters aren't quite so fun and amusing now that they are considerably older than when the series first launched.

I wasn't sure what to expect when taking an advance look at the series' first two installments. HBO is launching the series' fifth season, after a considerable delay (due to the writers strike) this Sunday evening and I sat down to watch "Fantasy Island,"only slightly curious to see what Vincent Chase, E, Drama, and Turtle were up to these days.

The stench of Vincent's last botched pic, Medellin, hovers over the action. Vince has gone into seclusion on a Mexican beach hideaway with Turtle and dozens of women in order to escape the fallout while Eric attempts to save his career and broaden his own by taking on some additional clients. Drama is dealing with a lost-distance relationship with Frenchwoman Jacqueline involving lots of iChat and nightly video tuck-ins. And Ari is... well, still doing the same OTT irate shtick that he's been doing for the last four seasons

It's not until the second episode of this season, "Unlike a Virgin," that things start to heat up a little, aided by a fantastic turn by Gossip Girl's Leighton Meester as a former virginal teen songstress who has since become a hell of a lot more adult since she and Vince last crossed paths. (Hell, she's now doing duets with Tony Bennett, in a guest star role.) Also look for Giovanni Ribisi and Lukas Haas to turn up as a pair of redneck screenwriters looking to lure Vince into starring in their very first screenplay, executive producer Mark Wahlberg to play himself (including offering a cutting line about his own film, The Truth About Charlie)... and NBC's own Ben Silverman, playing himself, in Episode One. While he might only have one line, it perfectly encapsulates the essence of Ben.

But still, it feels as though something is missing from Entourage. The series used to be a hell of a lot more fun and, with the launch of Season Five, I can't help shake the feeling that it's going through the motions a little. We've seen Vince at the top of his game, at the bottom, struggling, and trying to go indie and, while it's somewhat refreshing to see him re-energized in Episode Two, it has an aura of been-there-done-that.

When Entourage first premiered five years ago, it succeeded initially because it skewered the public's perceptions of the Hollywood fame machine, offering up an insider's satirical look behind the pretty facade of the entertainment industry. (And encountering more than a few fans within the industry itself.) Since then, however, it's become a victim of its own success.

After all, how do you keep Vince's struggle interesting after five years of ups and downs? While he's starting over again, as it were, at the start of Season Five, it's hard not to see that the seesaw of success will swing the other way by the end of this season. When Vince moans that maybe the gang will have to live off of Eric's management company should his acting career not rebound, it's hard not to sigh. Vince is one star that's forever falling and rising and, rather sadly, I just don't want to watch that never-ending trajectory in the dark sky of Hollywood.

Entourage's fifth season launches Sunday night at 10 pm ET/PT on HBO.

Comments

I feel like Entourage peaked awhile ago. The first couple of seasons were great but then, like Vince, the show became over-hyped.

I must admit that I'm somewhat intrigued by Leighton Meester's presence in the second episode (and Ben Silverman's one liner in the first) but guest stars and Hollywood cameos are not enough to re-energize my interest in this lackluster show.
Bill said…
I couldn't agree more about it losing its humor. Now, every show seems to pair up E and Vince to do serious movie business, while Turtle and Drama go do something stupid. But I'm still watching, I'm not really sure why.
Anonymous said…
I have to disagree. I actually thought first season was horrible and I didn't watch Entourage past the second or third episode. Then I caught an episode again in the third season, and I've been hooked ever since.

Entourage isn't just about Vince's career-- although that's obviously a big part. It's about the rest of them finding their own ways and growing up. So while Vince's work issues may seem familiar, I'm still psyched to see E, Drama, et co and how their careers (and love lives) advance.
Rich said…
I completely agree with the been-there-done-that-this-show-has-peaked assessment...and I'm sad to say that I am in agreement.

I really used to look forward to this show - laughing for 27 minutes and looking forward to the next installment.

After waiting a [super] long time, I was definitely deflated by S05E01. It was really just a big helping of "more of the same" that has already been shot in the 4 previous seasons.

Vince acts like his shiznit don't stink, even after tanking with MedellĂ­n and E is trying once again to get him to make the "right" decision. Drama and Turtle both assumed their roles as well.

The only thing that I seemed to pick up on more this season felt like a quadrupled effort by the product placement team in every scene (Apple, we get it, your stuff rocks)

That said however, J.Piven (Ari) still cracks me up in *whatever* scene he's in (ex: talking on the phone when he's handed some paperwork, calmly continuing his discussion on the phone as he walks out of his office into the office of the person who wrote obviously wrote said paperwork and throwing it at said person violently as he calmly continues his discussion walking back into his office. Cracks me up.

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