First, let me get the obvious out of the way: I’m not a film or TV critic. Never have been, and never will be. I don’t have the time or the interest, or quite frankly, the stomach to watch 99 percent of the crap on TV right now. For the most part, I feel the same way about most everything on TV that you do about Lane Kiffin’s coaching ability. In other words, I’m pretty much apathetic.
Instead, sports have always been my love and passion, and that’ll never change. Give me a game of basketball over the mind games on Survivor any day of the week. As far as I’m concerned, the drama every Saturday in the SEC is way better than a season’s worth of drama on ER. Or whatever it is that the kids are watching on TV these days.
So with that you’re probably wondering, “Dude, if you don’t watch much TV, then why are you going to write about it today.” Well the short answer is that I’m pissed. I’m pissed that after committing myself to eight episodes (and eight seasons) of Entourage (one of the few things on TV I religiously watch), the show went out with a whimper in the final episode Sunday night. To say it was disappointing would be an understatement. Really, it was an atrocity; something that wasn’t just bad, but insulting to anyone who has followed the show for all these years. These past eight episodes proved to be nothing short of a waste of my time.
Now of course the irony in all this is that like a lot of you, when I heard the final season was only going to be eight episodes, I was genuinely intrigued. So much happened last season, and there was such little time to resolve it all. How would Vince’s drug problem turn out? Would Ari’s marriage woes get fixed? How about Turtle’s tequila business? If anything, I expected these eight episodes to be fast-paced and action-packed.
Looking back now it obviously never happened, as the season got off to a slower start than Mark Teixeira in April (Ironic since Teixeira was a guest on one of the episodes). In episode one, we learned that Vince was sober, and umm...well actually, that was really it. Episode two had less action than a Big Ten basketball game. Meaning, that by the time episode three rolled around, the writers had to basically pack 10 episodes worth of storylines into five shows. Good times!
Unfortunately, things barely got better from there, as the whole season turned into a jumbled mess of contrived and forced storylines that quickly became highly predictable and boring. I mean seriously, who among us didn’t see some kind of cheesy “Vince falls in love,” ending coming the second Sophia popped up? It was more predictable than a Tony Romo fourth quarter meltdown.
More importantly, the season also fell into the biggest trap that Entourage has through the years, and also highlighted the one aspect of the show that upsets the actual TV critics the most. That is, that essentially no matter where the storyline takes us, no matter who faces what conflict, there are no real repercussions for anyone. Somehow everyone gets off scot free, hugs it out, and we all move on.
Don’t believe me? Just think about Sunday’s final episode for example. Think about all the real, tangible plot arcs, and then think about all the awkward and unrealistic bows they were wrapped up with.
Let’s start with Johnny Drama getting a pay raise for his TV show, even though the show hadn't begun airing yet. It was a plot line that made absolutely no sense than, still doesn’t now and was never fully explained. But who needs an explanation when you can just hug it out at the end of the episode?
Speaking of doing nothing of merit, how about Turtle becoming a millionaire…wait, how did Turtle become a millionaire again? Oh that’s right. Because he sold his stock in the tequila company and Vince bought it back. Oh, ok, glad we figured that one out in about eight seconds.
Then there was the love triangle of Eric, Sloan and her stepmom. So Sloan thought Eric slept with the stepmom, harassed Drama and Turtle about it, and then dropped the whole thing solely because Vince gave her a five minute pep talk? Good times. I just wish the writers had followed up with how things would’ve actually turned out in real life: With Sloan relentlessly badgering Eric on the plane ride, until he fessed up about it.
And of course there is Ari, the super-agent who gave up everything he'd worked his entire adult life for to become a family man. Which would be nice, except in the very next scene he and his wife were flying across the globe for Vince’s wedding and moving to Italy shortly after that, without either of his kids in sight. Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be about the family? Are the kids not part of the family? Did I miss that?
And really, the sad thing is that I haven’t even talked about the worst part yet. That would be the story arc of Vince, which was so bad, it makes me want to run into oncoming traffic just thinking about it.
Let me start by getting my utter disdain for Vince’s future wife out of the way by saying this: Point-blank, I loathe her. Quite honestly, she may be one of my three least favorite characters in the history of television, if not one of my three least favorite people on this entire planet. Sure she’s got a cute face and accent, but otherwise, I see absolutely nothing redeemable about her. Not to mention that in the first few episodes she appears in, she’s more socially awkward than Bill Belichick at a cocktail party.
But besides my sheer hatred for her, the plot line involving her made no sense. None.
To recap, I just want to make sure and get this straight: So Vince meets a headstrong, career oriented, intelligent and independent woman. He likes her because she’s headstrong, career oriented, intelligent and independent, but unfortunately she has no interest in him for those same reasons. From there it takes (what are assumed to be) weeks for him to even talk her into going on a date, and even then, she only does it reluctantly. Then after all that, she falls head over heels for him in one 24-hour period, and is ready to drop everything she’s doing and fly across the world to marry him? Wait…what??
My first thought on this whole situation, is that I’ve dated those head-strong, independent types, and it definitely takes a certain type of guy to stick with them. You know why? Because they’re freakin’ head strong and independent. That’s not an insult, just a fact. They move at their own pace, and march the beat of their own drummer. From my experience you can’t convince a girl like that to buy a hot dog at a hot dog stand if she’s not interested. Yet somehow in a matter of 24 hours, Vince has convinced this woman to commit the rest of her life to him? Please.
While we’re here, (and yes, I know that I’m looking way too much into this) does anyone else find it ironic that when the new Mrs. Chase decided, “I’m going to drop the whole hard-ass routine, and fall in love,” she is doing the exact opposite of everything that attracted Vince to her in the first place? Isn’t she just becoming the passive-aggressive Stepford Wife that every other woman from Vince’s past already was? Am I the only one who thinks about these things? (Actually, I probably am. Whatever, it’s still an important point dammit!)
Still, that whole storyline kind of sums up everything that was wrong with this season, and that’s this: When the writers, producers and everyone else involved with the show decided to put this last season together, they had two choices. The first was that if they wanted to develop the characters and give them detailed plot arcs like they did, than they needed to allow more time than just eight, half hour episodes. Stick with eight episodes, and any kind of development is going to seem forced and contrived, like what ended up happening. Of course the other option would be to not try and develop the guys, and just keep them who they were: Young, single and having fun.
Now, if you go with the first option, that’s fine, and to a degree, I give the writers credit for at least trying. After all, what’s the point of creating a TV show (or living your life for that matter), if you’re unable or unwilling to evolve the characters over the course of eight years. Ultimately isn’t the point of these shows to say at the end, “Wow, look at how much Vince and Company have changed since the beginning.”
At the same time, if you’re going to try and do that, it needs to be organic. And for it to be organic, you need more episodes. It takes weeks and months and years for someone to go from drug rehab to truly being ready for marriage, yet somehow Vince was ready to do it in what, a few weeks? Same with Ari. Here’s a guy who has spent his entire adult life being a certain person, and in one episode, and 15 seconds of listening to opera music, he’s ready to be a totally different guy? That’s just not how these things happen, at least not in the world I live in. So to try and squeeze all that into eight episodes is dumb, and like I said, kind of insulting to the audience. If you’re going to do that, why not at least try to space it out over a handful more episodes, or for the love of God, at least make the series finale an hour. After eight years of watching the show, don’t we at least deserve that?
As for the latter option, the choice to not try and develop the characters at all, well, I personally think that’s the angle they should’ve taken.
Really, reflecting on the last eight years of Entourage you know what it all reminds me of? When your favorite baseball team signs a big-time power hitter. Think someone like Adam Dunn.
If your team signs Adam Dunn, you know exactly what you’ll get from him, and more importantly what you won’t as well. No one ever goes into a season expecting Adam Dunn to .330, steal 40 bases and win the MVP. It just isn’t happening. Instead you accept that he has plenty of faults, understand that he’s probably going to hit .260 and is more likely to steal from a teammate’s locker than steal second base. You know what you’re getting. So instead of worrying about that brutal backing average, you sit back and appreciate his 40 home runs.
Well really, that’s kind of like Entourage. For years now, we’ve been trained like Pavlov’s dog to appreciate the shows quirks, rather than nit-pick over its flaws. Going into any episode of Entourage, you know that it’s going to be poorly acted, that the plot lines are going to have more holes than Charles Barkley’s golf swing and less depth than the kiddie pool at your local park. But that’s ok. We’re not tuning in for fine cinema, as much as to just laugh a few times, to hear Ari crack a couple nasty jokes and hopefully see a girl or two in a bikini. If we get a random celebrity sighting like Alex Rodriguez, Chris Bosh or Barry Alvarez (seriously, Barry Alvarez!), even better.
And actually, that’s where I think the behind the scenes people at Entourage screwed up this last season. Basically, they tried to turn the characters into something they’re not.
For seven years, we as viewers haven’t seen these guys for much more than the surface level stuff, because really, what you see on the surface is all you get from them. Ultimately they’re not someone we share a deep emotional bond with, and aren’t guys we’d go to as friends to if we actually had serious problems. Instead, these are the guys that are our wing men, our drinking buddies, and the friend that we all have from college that we see twice a year now and say, “Damn he’s fun, but I couldn’t live life the way he does.” Basically, the cast of Entourage was the answer to the question, “What would my life be like if I were young and rich, and could do whatever I wanted?” Well after seven years of developing those characters that exact way, the writers of the show decided to turn the characters into something they’re not.
Why they did that, I’m honestly not sure. But what I do know is this: The rumor since the beginning of season eight was that after the show went off the air, eventually, they’d turn Entourage into a movie. At the time, it actually sounded kinda cool.
Except let me ask you, after everything we’ve seen this season, why would you ever want to pay $12 to see these guys in a movie? Just about the only storyline that’s even a bit interesting, is whether Ari will take the job as head of the studio, but really, that’s it. I honestly couldn’t care less about married Vince, daddy Eric or millionaire Turtle.
You know what I do care about though? All the stuff that made me watch for the first seven seasons. All the bonding over beers, the traveling, the chicks, cars, you name it. That’s what made these characters feel like they could be your own friends, and made you feel like, “You know what? It’s freakin’ awesome being a guy.” Those first seven seasons might not have always been perfect, but they did seem real.
Unlike what I saw Sunday night, and this entire season really.
I never thought I’d say this, but after this weekend, I’m kind of glad Entourage is over.
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I agree completely with your assessment of the Entourage finale and final season in general. The only scene that was even worth a damn in that last episode was Ari getting the call from Terrence and I am guessing they only did that to leave the door open for a movie.Anyway, I would have much, much, much rather have seen the guys revert back to their single, fun loving, crazy, partying days of the first few seasons. Come on, wouldn't it have been great for them to throw one last gigantic party with all that money Vince and Turtle made (seriously though, could anything blow up that big in this economy...) full of sex, drugs, alcohol, and all together great times?! Now THAT is what made Entourage blow up. As you said, we want to see the guys living the lives we all wish we could, not having babies and getting married. What a completely sappy way to go out. HBO really has a tough time ending their best shows properly.