|Entourage: The Complete Second Season (2005)
Starring: Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven
The future of HBO ain’t looking so good. The premium network’s two biggest dramas (“The Sopranos” and “Deadwood”) will both air their final seasons within the year, Larry David is just aching to pull the plug on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and while new shows like “Rome” and “Extras” have been doing considerably well, the maiden season of “Big Love” continues to plummet. In fact, the only show currently worthy of the monthly surcharge is Doug Ellin’s “Entourage,” and thankfully, it’s money well spent. The show’s sophomore season improved on an already good thing, and while it delivered more interesting story arcs and richer character development, its most impressive alteration was in the expansion of series stand-out Jeremy Piven.
Fresh off filming the indie flick “Queens Boulevard,” season two picks up with the boys returning to L.A. and searching for their next project. Vince (Adrian Grenier) and his manager, Eric (Kevin Connolly), are pulling for “The Pablo Escobar Story,” but super-agent Ari Gold (Piven) is leaning toward a summer blockbuster like “Aqua Man.” Pitching it as “‘Spider-Man’ underwater,” Vince initially refuses Ari’s offer, but when he discovers that James Cameron is attached, he jumps at the chance to work with the famed director. Production on the film is sent into turmoil, however, when Vince’s ex-girlfriend, Mandy Moore, is cast as the underwater hero’s onscreen love interest.
And while Vince deals with his past, the other guys begin to develop their futures. Eric already takes his duties as a manager seriously, but when he meets Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), the sexy daughter of Ari’s boss, Terence (Malcolm McDowell), he’s given the opportunity to expand upon his clientele. Meanwhile, Vince’s older brother, Drama (Kevin Dillon), is finally making headway with his acting career, including a role alongside Brooke Shields in a TV Movie of the Week, and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) actually gets off his ass to do some work, in this case representing an up-and-coming rapper. Ari isn’t without his own transformation either, whether he's battling Terrence for control of the agency or struggling to keep Vince as his star client.
As was common in the first season, the second year of “Entourage” is loaded with cool hot spots (like Sundance, San Diego Comic Con and the Playboy Mansion) and even cooler guest stars. Among the best include Ralph Macchio, Gary Busey, Chris Penn and Bai Ling, but none come even close to topping the appearance by Bob Saget as Vince’s new neighbor and frequent visitor of the local bordello. Still, despite the on-location shooting and hilarious cameo performances, the success of the show remains on the shoulders of the five leading men, and while Grenier and Connolly may appear to be the stars of the show, almost every memorable scene relies on either Piven or Dillon to shine. The former, especially, is given a much meatier role this time around, and when he’s not “hugging it out,” he’s dropping amusing one-liners perfect for your car bumper.
It would have been entertaining to see alternate takes of Piven spouting his many insults, but unfortunately, the season two DVD release continues the shameful trend of bringing HBO shows to disc. Transferred over in a 4:3 widescreen aspect ratio and featuring a paltry 2.0 Dolby soundtrack, all fourteen episodes appear across the three-disc box set, but sadly, that’s about it. Where the first season delivered on bonus material like audio commentaries with the show’s creators, the season two set only includes one special feature, the 22-minute “Mark Wahlberg Sessions” – a series of interviews with the cast and crew of the show – which appears on disc three. Not only is this a major disappointment (since I was expecting commentary tracks and more), but it’s simply unacceptable for an industry that prides itself on the ability to include hours of supplemental material on a single disc.
Is this enough reason, however, not to buy the new season on DVD? Hardly. “Entourage” is, and continues to be, one of the best shows on television. It’s got a talented ensemble cast, steadfast writing, and the blessing of nearly every celebrity in Hollywood, and until that changes, you’ll just have to grind your teeth and value what attracted you to the series in the first place.