Entourage 6.1 – Drive

Fans of “Entourage” know that season premieres have never been one of the show’s strong suits (they tend to act more like a prologue than an actual part of the story), but while tonight’s episode wasn’t particularly memorable, it did set up quite a few interesting arcs for the coming season. The most obvious of the bunch is Vince’s return to the big time after the colossal failure of “Medellin” nearly ruined him for good. Granted, working with Scorsese will usually do that for you, but it’s just nice to see Vince back in his old digs worrying about things like getting his driver’s license instead of how he’s going to climb his way out of debt.

It’s a shame we didn’t actually get to see any of the footage from the film (maybe next time), but he did talk with Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show” about his new gig: a biopic about Enzo Ferrari, hence the reason why he needs to learn how to drive. The actual exam didn’t go over quite as well as Vince’s confidence would have implied (he practically ran over the entire course of traffic cones), but he was still able to earn a passing grade after bribing the instructor with premiere tickets for his new film. Not exactly a sign that Vince has matured, but with everyone else in his life doing just as good as he is, it’s probably about time he starts.

After all, with Drama constantly working and Turtle always hanging out with Jamie-Lynn, the one person Vince has always been able to rely on is Eric. That’s all about to change, however, now that Eric has agreed to sublet a house from one of Sloan’s friends. Why he’d want to live in that house for only a year is beyond me, but Eric clearly understands that if he ever hopes to get a second chance with Sloan, he’s going to have to be a little more independent. Vince doesn’t seem to have a problem with it at the time, but now that he sees just how lonely life could be without anyone there to keep him company, it might just force him to reassess his bachelor lifestyle.

Meanwhile, with Vince back in the industry’s good graces, Ari is having the time of his life alongside his new partner-in-crime, Andrew, who’s settled into the agency quite well with a string of new clients. (Of course, if the writers knew that “My Name Is Earl” would be cancelled mere months after the episode was filmed, they probably would have chosen a different client for him to sign.) Okay, so maybe business isn’t exactly booming, but that doesn’t stop Lloyd from demanding his long-awaited promotion. Ari finally gives in to Lloyd’s constant bickering and offers him a deal: do whatever he says for 100 days and he’ll make him an agent. I’m really hoping Ari doesn’t follow through, though, because while Lloyd certainly deserves the promotion, the show would be better off maintaining that dynamic. It’s worked this long, so why mess with a good thing?

  

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Ausiello keeps track of the bubble shows

EW.com’s Michael Ausiello is tuned into the world of television, and his information can usually be trusted. He has an article devoted to the current status of all the shows (renewed, cancelled, on the bubble, etc.) and suggests that readers bookmark it. Here are his thoughts on a few of the shows currently on the bubble.

Scrubs: Prospects brightening.
The Unusuals: A long shot.
Eleventh Hour: Could go either way. Now a long shot. Hearing the crew is looking for other work.
The Unit: A long shot. Now hearing it’s a goner.
Dollhouse: Could go either way. Now hearing it’s a long shot.
Fringe: Sure thing.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: A long shot.
Chuck: Could go either way.
Life: A long shot. Now hearing it’s a goner.
Medium: Safe bet.
My Name is Earl: Could go either way. Fox may rescue it if NBC passes.
Southland: Sure thing.
Privileged: Prospects brightening.
Reaper: It’s a goner.

I’m bummed to hear that the news on “The Unit” isn’t getting better. CBS invited Shawn Ryan to pitch story ideas for another season, and the show has been pretty great the last two years. It’s good to see that “Fringe” is considered a sure thing — I hadn’t heard much about how well it was doing ratings-wise this season. “Southland” continues to get good reviews. I don’t know that the world needs another cop show. My tastes are pretty particular after watching great shows like “NYPD Blue,” “The Shield” and “The Wire,” so I haven’t watched it, but if I keep hearing good things, I may dive in this summer when there isn’t much else on.

If you don’t see your favorite show on this list, be sure to check this link for the latest info. I’d like to see Ausiello tackle some of the basic and pay cable shows on FX, TNT, TBS, USA, HBO and Showtime, but this page only covers the major networks.

  

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New Rule: Pedophilia is not funny.

Sorry to bring everyone down, but I think it’s a point worth making. In a recent episode of “My Name Is Earl” (entitled “Joy in a Bubble”) the writers made a joke about pedophilia. Earl was talking to his brother, Randy, and he told him about Joy’s kids who didn’t have any friends because none of the other parents could stand Joy. Randy said (and I’m paraphrasing) that the guy downstairs has lots of friends who were young boys and maybe it would be a good idea to introduce the kids to him.

It’s not often, but every once in a while one sitcom or another will make a joke about pedophilia, usually within the context of the Catholic church’s recent scandals. I have as dark of a sense of humor as anyone, and in general I think the American viewing public is waaaaay too uptight, but since when is child rape funny? How many jokes do we hear about adult rape? I can’t think of a single one. Isn’t pedophilia just as bad or worse?

I don’t get it.

I’m not going to call out any specific writers (oddly enough the two credited for this episode are both female) because there’s no telling how that particular line ended up in the episode, but please stop making jokes about adults who rape kids.

  

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Old Show, New Season: “My Name Is Earl”

When we last left Earl, he was in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

Yep, that’s right: Earl’s desire to keep doing right by karma led him to accept the blame for something that his ex-wife, Joy, had done, so that she could stay out of jail, have her half-sister’s baby, and continue to raise her other two kids. A noble gesture, to be sure. Too bad the end result didn’t work out so well for Earl. Or Randy. Or Joy and Darnell, either, for that matter. In fact, really, the only person who didn’t end up suffering from the effects of Earl’s departure is Catalina…which might explain why she has precious little to do during the first two episodes of Season 3 of “My Name Is Earl” except give life to a mustachioed hand puppet named Little Earl.

These first two episodes – a 2-parter entitled “My Name Is Inmate #28301-16” – are, unfortunately, pretty disappointing…and, worse, the disappointment begins within only a few seconds of the first episode. Despite the season finale ending with the discovery that Earl was going to be sharing a cell with his old buddy Ralph (Giovanni Ribisi), the season premiere begins with the realization that we probably won’t be seeing a whole lot of Ralph after all. Actually, though, that’s really just a minor quibble; after all, we do hear Ralph, and when we do, you’ll get at least one big laugh. The biggest problem is that this season is starting off feeling way too real.

The characters on “My Name Is Earl” have always felt uncomfortably close to people I’ve known in my life – I’m from Virginia, so, believe me, I’ve known and loved my fair share of white trash in my time…and, to a certain extent, I still do – so that reality isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m really speaking of two aspects: Earl struggling to survive in prison, and Randy struggling to survive without Earl. There’s certainly comedy to be had in having Earl behind bars, but when there are people getting shivved, you’re definitely playing closer to the “maybe not as ‘ha-ha’ funny as it’s supposed to be” side of things. But, really, the worst part is Randy, and how incredibly stupid he’s gotten just over the course of the past few months. Yeah, he was dumb before, but now the writers have got him walking into oncoming traffic when there are clearly cars whizzing by him. It’s actually reached a level where you feel bad for the guy, where he’s crossed the line from “dumb” into “clinically retarded,” and that’s just not funny. It’s clear that the writers wanted to play up his stupidity so that it would show just how useless he is without Earl, but it’s just not working at all.

The producers have admitted that they’re in no rush to get Earl out of jail, and it’s clear that they’re at least going to try to stick to their guns, but after last season’s successful use of plots arcs like Randy and Catalina’s Green-card marriage and Joy’s 3-strikes-and-you’re-in-prison situation (not to mention her pregnancy), things were really looking good for “My Name Is Earl,” and it’s a shame to think that they’re going to screw with the dynamic in such a major way…especially how poorly the first fruits of this season have turned out.

But to end this write-up on a positive note, the most hopeful thing to emerge from the show’s camp for the new season is this:

  

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