Entourage 6.7 – No More Drama

This year of “Entourage” has been pretty great so far, but one of the show’s biggest weaknesses has always been its tendency to hit the cruise control and coast through the middle of the season. Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case this time around, as tonight’s episode managed to include not just one, but two major storylines, as well as a fun side adventure starring Vince and Turtle. The latter was obviously the most lighthearted of the bunch, but even though the break-in at Vince’s house was handled quite humorously (stolen underwear, really?), there’s a good chance it could become a little darker during the final stretch of the season. After all, celebrity stalkers shouldn’t be taken lightly, and though the guys have clearly ruled out firearms as a form of protection (“Turtle, you will end up like Plaxico and shoot yourself.”), they might want to take Ari’s advice and hire some security on the double.

Speaking of which, where was Ari tonight? With the exception of a short scene with Vince and Turtle, Ari’s only other involvement in the episode was sending Eric a bunch of pizzas as a gift for starting his new job. Ari may still think of him as a pizza boy, but Eric really hit the ground running on his first day, and I think that he’s going to prove to be a bigger asset than he gets credit for. With the exception of Harvey and maybe Billy Walsh, just about everybody Eric has worked with in the past likes him (or at least respects his work ethic), and that includes Bob Saget, who Murray is desperately trying to sign. At the moment, Saget is being pursued by a fellow co-worker named Scotty Lavin (Scott Caan), but when he fails to close the deal, Eric tries to close it for him after he name drops the former “Full House” star in a meeting.

As it turns out, the only way Saget will sign with the company is if he can have sex in Murray’s office. When Eric informs Scott of the strange request, however, he thinks that he’s being played, so Eric takes it to Murray himself and, just like that, bags himself a new client. Murray certainly seemed impressed with Eric’s initiative, and even jokingly suggests he sign Christian Bale by letting him “execute a cinematographer if he wants.” I highly doubt Eric is quite at that level just yet, but once Scotty learns that he’s been beaten to the punch, it’s not going to bode well for Eric. Of course, this impending rivalry is exactly what the show needs, and I can’t wait to see what the writers have in store for Kevin Connelly, Scott Caan, or even Kate Mara, who’s been cast in the incredibly thankless role of Eric’s assistant. Surely they plan on giving her more to do in the future.

That’s all we had time for this week, however, as the rest of the episode was dedicated to Drama trying to make up for his violent outage. With his job in limbo (Lloyd calls to inform him that all his scenes have been cancelled for the day), Drama races to the studio lot only to discover that he’s been banned to even enter. He tries to apologize to his boss by phone, but he only eggs Drama on even more, resulting in yet another threat – this one strictly verbal. So, with no other choice, Drama bribes the security guard at the gate with sweets and literally begs for his job back.

As it turns out, Drama’s job was never really in danger to begin with (Ed Burns granted him a “stay of execution”), but Dan the studio exec decides he’s going to torture him anyways, and I can’t even begin to imagine what that means for poor Drama. There’s a pretty wide variety of things that could happen to him, but since this is “Entourage,” I’m placing my money on his character having some kind of sexual (read: gay) reawakening. If the writers really wanted to turn the story on its head, however, they’d have Drama dreading the new subplot, only to receive a surprise Emmy nomination for his performance. Hey, it’s “Entourage,” it could happen.

  

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Entourage 6.6 – Murphy’s Lie

We’re already at the halfway mark for the new season, and though I know a lot of people haven’t been digging these first six episodes, I have to say that they’re a lot better (and more consistent) than last year. So far, we’ve seen Vince’s return to superstardom, Turtle’s new life as a pseudo-celebrity, and even Eric’s maturation as a manager, and with tonight’s episode, it looks like even Johnny Drama might be getting his very own story arc. Could his days as the court jester finally be over?

Not bloody likely, but he certainly showed his true colors this week as a loyal friend. Sure, he might have been having a little too much fun teasing Turtle about his kissing scene with Jamie-Lynn, but when Drama’s sleazy boss invited his new screen girlfriend out to lunch to talk business, Drama did some reconnaissance to make sure Jamie-Lynn wasn’t following him into bed. As it turns out, Jamie-Lynn is just as loyal as Turtle’s closest friends, but that didn’t stop Drama from putting his career on the line after the network exec made a lewd comment about how he would eventually bang the former “Sopranos” star. Drama clearly wasn’t thinking about the consequences of putting his boss in a chokehold, but will he really be written off the show? I find that hard to believe, especially when Drama could easily explain the situation to any number of people more important and with more power than this overconfident douchebag.

While Drama was in the midst of a nervous breakdown, Eric was busy picking up the pieces after accidentally calling Ashley by Sloan’s name the night before. He apologizes to her and she deals with it remarkably well, but before you can say “Welcome Back Sloan,” Ashley discovers a message from her on Eric’s voicemail that sends her into a jealous rage. There was really no need for it, since Eric has been avoiding Sloan like the plague, but when push came to shove, he admitted to still having feelings for her. And while it certainly seems like the whole Eric/Ashley debacle has come to a close, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her pop up in the near future. Eric and Sloan probably won’t be reunited until the end of the season, if at all, and there are still plenty of episodes left. Of course, now that Eric’s accepted the position at Murray’s company, it’s looking more and more likely that Emmanuelle Chriqui will be a series regular come next season.

The rest of the episode was pretty uneventful. Turtle started his first day at college, Ari tried to mend Andrew and Marlo’s marriage, and Vince didn’t do much of anything except hang out with a freaky co-ed with a camera. Surprisingly, it’s the latter subplot that is the most interesting of the bunch. I may be looking too far into this, but now that Vince’s career is booming, what better way to create a little chaos in his life than for him to have to deal with a tabloid story? Could a sex tape be in his future, and if so, would it damage his image? They always say any publicity is good publicity, but if you don’t exactly need it, then it’s probably not worth the risk.

  

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Entourage 6.5 – Fore!

There are good filler episodes, and then there are bad filler episodes. Last week definitely fell into the former category, and although I assumed that this week’s show would belong to the latter, I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. There wasn’t a whole lot going on tonight with everyone involved in the charity golf tournament in some form, but it was the hardest I’ve laughed at an episode of “Entourage” in quite awhile.

Since there was only a little bit of actual plot development this time around, let’s get that out of the way first. Eric may be the only character this season who’s actually getting a proper story arc, but it’s been entertaining thus far. Now that he’s dating Ashley, Eric is a little weirded out about seeing Sloan at the tournament, but when she informs him that he’s been paired with Hollywood bigwig Maury Barrinson at his request, Eric’s interest is perked. As it turns out, Maury is actually scouting Eric to come work for his company, and though it sounds like a promising opportunity, he turns it down when he learns that it was Sloan’s idea. For some reason, Eric believes that he’s being treated like a charity case, and while I understand where he’s coming from, he should know by the now that she’s only doing it as a friend. Unfortunately, Eric still sees her as an ex-girlfriend, which only means one thing: these two are going to get back together real soon. Sorry Ashley, but this was never a battle you were going to win.

Meanwhile, Vince and Drama are paired up with Mark Wahlberg and Tom Brady, and Wahlberg is having a field day teasing Drama about his surprisingly high handicap. Drama, looking for a little retribution, suggests a friendly little bet between them, only to slice his first drive into the trees. Drama’s day doesn’t get any better from there, either, and he eventually breaks Brady’s driver (which the Super Bowl MVP had just let him borrow) in a fit of rage. You’d think Turtle would be crying in joy after declaring his hatred for Brady (he even plans to tell the Patriots quarterback that he sucks balls, much to the behest of Jamie-Lynn), but that was before Brady invited Turtle over to his house to have dinner with Giselle. You can call him a sellout if you like, but you know you’d do the exact same thing.

By far the funniest pairing of the night, however, was Ari and Jeffrey Tambor – and for once, it wasn’t because of Jeremy Piven. Tambor was absolutely hilarious in his second guest spot to date as he cheated every chance he got in an attempt to impress his kids. Just watching him cut up the green was funny – especially while Ari was busy stressing out about his wife’s unhappy reaction to him keeping knowledge of Andrew’s affair from her. Of course, there’s no way this argument is over yet, despite Ari buying her a brand new Maserati. Still, for as much as Piven has proven the show’s savior these last few weeks, Tambor single-handedly stole the show in his response to his kids’ explicit-laced complaints about being bored: “Hey, this is a family day. So shut the fuck up and hit the ball.”

  

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Entourage 6.4 – Runnin’ on E

I’m sure some people will look at the title of tonight’s episode and crack a joke about how “Entourage” isn’t as good as it used to be, but not every episode can be as good as the one from last week. There are bound to be shows of the filler variety every once and a while (it’s the nature of the series), just like Eric isn’t always going to be as busy as he’d like. Unfortunately, with Vince’s Ferrari movie pushed back 12 weeks due to pre-production troubles, not to mention Eric’s decision to pull out of producing duties on Charlie’s sitcom, the Murphy Group has become a dead zone. Vince suggests Eric join him on a trip to Paris, but he’d rather just hang around the office with Ashley, leaving Vince to sex up waitresses and surf the web (“How come you’re not on this Facebook thing?”) to keep busy. In the end, however, Eric decides to shut down the Murphy Group for good, and I must say that I’m a little disappointed. I hope that doesn’t mean Eric will stop managing altogether, because he’s easily the show’s most interesting character.

The other two guys didn’t have much to do this week, either. Turtle was stuck shopping for back-to-school clothes with Jamie-Lynn, while Drama spent the day auditioning girls (read: making out with hot models) for his character’s new love interest on “Five Towns.” What could have been a great subplot for Kevin Dillon, though, quickly turned into typical Drama shenanigans. Upset over the lack of talent in the pool of candidates, Drama demands they audition real actresses for the role, and even visits Ed Burns with the suggestion that they go after Natalie Portman or Rachel McAdams. I find it hard to believe that Drama is so stupid that he would expect the network to chase down A-list talent for a brief kissing scene, but he gets his wish nonetheless when he begs Turtle to convince Jamie-Lynn to do the role. Granted, Meadow Soprano is certainly no Natalie Portman or Rachel McAdams, but she’s definitely a step up in quality.

It’s not exactly the kind of stuff that will affect the overall arc of the season, though, so it’s a good thing that Jeremy Piven is still around to save the day. It may be the writers who are responsible for giving the actor such great material, but I’ll be damned if he doesn’t knock it out of the park every time. Ari has grown so much as a character over the last two seasons, and now that he’s trying to run a successful business and be a good husband, father and friend, the stress is really starting to show. I don’t know how much longer Ari is going to be able to play babysitter to Andrew, and quite frankly, the subplot is beginning to show signs of wear.

For the time being, it seems like the affair really is over, but now that Andrew’s officially left his wife, will he just go running back to junior agent Lizzie? And just who exactly ended the affair in the first place? From the way Lizzie “manned up” to Ari and apologized to him in person, I have a strange feeling she was the one who pulled the plug. That would certainly make more sense, because Andrew nearly flipped out when David Schwimmer started flirting with her in the business meeting. Now, Ari has a big decision to make: side with his wife and get rid of Andrew before he makes an even bigger mess of his life, or keep his latest Employee of the Month around long enough to reel in one of television’s most admired creative forces. With Vince cruising along in his career again, he certainly has the time to make up his mind.

  

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Entourage 6.3 – One Car, Two Car, Red Car, Blue Car

For all those doubters out there who haven’t seen this week’s episode yet, please do, because it’s one of the best the show has ever produced. I’ve been waiting for Turtle to get a worthwhile storyline ever since that whole rap management thing fell through, and though he did get a lucky break at the end of last year by hooking up with Jamie-Lynn Sigler, their new relationship hasn’t exactly spurred any kind of change in his lifestyle. Now that he’s got a case of the birthday blues, however, Turtle’s ready to get his life back on track.

The fact that both his best friend and girlfriend have just bought him new cars (a Ferrari and Porsche, respectively) isn’t helping, though, and when his mom isn’t giving him shit about being a loser, 50 Cent is picking on him for being Vince’s lackey. Still, you really have to respect Turtle’s tenacity, because some people would be perfectly happy leeching off their famous best friend forever. Not Turtle, because even after Ari grills him on the concept of paying one’s dues, instead of giving up, he decides to enroll in business management class at UCLA. Here’s hoping the writers aren’t just introducing another subplot for Turtle only for us to never hear about it again. I’d still really like to know what happened to that other girl he was dating back in Season Three.

While Drama and Vince try and console Turtle, Eric is stressing out over the impending pilot test results of Charlie’s surfer sitcom. Unfortunately, it’s a good news/bad news situation. While the test audience actually liked the show as a whole, they didn’t exactly love Charlie in the lead role. I don’t know how that’s possible (if you don’t like the main character, how can you like the show?), but regardless, Eric is forced to make some decisions of his own. He still thinks Charlie is funny upon another viewing of the pilot – even after Ashley, who he’s clearly crushing on since almost blowing her off the night before, declares that he just “sucks” – but the studio wants to replace him. Again, Ari is called on for advice, who suggests that he should stand up for his client if he truly does believe in him. Eric does just that, and even plays the race card in a last ditch effort, but no dice – Charlie is canned and Eric follows suit to support him.

For as good as both Turtle and Eric’s storylines were, however, one of the major reasons tonight’s episode worked so well is because Jeremy Piven wasn’t overused, as he too often is. Instead, he had a short exchange with Lloyd early on that revealed that he had forced the agent-in-training to memorize every one of his client’s favorites drinks, and then shined in two great scenes with Turtle and Eric – not as his usual asshole self, but almost as a mentor dispensing words of wisdom to his young pupils. It might sound a little strange to think of Ari as the Mr. Miyagi of the Hollywood agency world, but sometimes, it’s nice to see his human side.

  

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