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Reviewed by Ross Ruediger
he closer “Entourage” got to the finish line, the fewer episodes per year it produced, and the eighth and final season consists of only eight installments. At first, this might seem disappointing, but keep in mind that eight episodes of this show is the equivalent of two feature films. If the show can’t figure out what it still needs to say in that amount of time, then we’ve got some big problems.
This season picks up about three months after Season Seven ended, and Vince (Adrian Grenier) has thankfully been clean and sober for that amount of time. While his extended trip to the darker side of celebrity added a great deal of heft to “Entourage,” it wasn’t pleasant to view, especially for a show that largely deals in good times. Thankfully, that darkness is mostly gone in Season Eight, although Episode Three, “One Last Shot,” still has something to say on the subject of addiction, but that’s a shocker better experienced than talked about here.
A big part of the season revolves around Drama’s (Kevin Dillon) animated TV series, “Johnny’s Bananas,” which looks like a concept that nobody with any amount of taste would ever want to sit through, but that doesn’t keep “Entourage” from insisting that the show could very well be the next “Simpsons.” For the sake of the show, let’s go ahead and pretend that “Johnny’s Bananas” is a good series. Then why in the hell would anyone hire Andrew Dice Clay as Drama’s co-star!? But they did, and Dice is a major player in this final block of episodes. And you know what? He’s a lot of fun here. Seriously, “Entourage” gets a fair amount of mileage playfully trading on Dice’s celebrity, and in the end, he’s something of a savior for both Drama and this crappy show. If you’d told me going into this season that Dice would feature so prominently, I’d have had a good long laugh at HBO’s expense, but it seems the joke’s on me, because this was an inspired move.
Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) is mostly concerned with furthering his business deals, including starting up his own restaurant. The character doesn’t get quite as much to do in this final stretch, although in the season premiere, it’s a stoned Turtle whose actions lead to a housing shakeup that last the remainder of the season. It’s mildly interesting to note, however, that behind the scenes Ferrara co-wrote two of the eight episodes with Doug Ellin, which may be a sign of things to come for Ferrara now that “Entourage” is over.
Both E (Kevin Connolly) and Ari (Jeremy Piven) spend most of the season dealing with lady problems, thanks to their respective splits from Sloane (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and Mrs. Ari (Perrey Reeves), whose first name is finally revealed here. But E and Ari aren’t the only ones with lady problems. Vince becomes inexplicably fixated on a journalist (Alice Eve), in a storyline that’s taken to the most improbable conclusion of the year, and one that surely had long time fans throwing their remotes at the TV. Look, I don’t expect a show like “Entourage” to deliver the smartest material on the tube, but what they do with Vince and this woman is beyond ridiculous. It not only makes little sense within the long term narrative of the series, but it doesn’t even work in the short term, as the whole development is so ham-fistedly handled from the word go. If there’s one thing that kept me from giving this final season somewhat higher marks, it’s this (my apologies for dancing around the specifics, but, you know, spoilers and all).
Because by and large, “Entourage” has always presented a reality that I can believe in. I rarely look at this show and think, “That’s a bunch of horseshit!,” and that’s to the show’s credit, because it’s always been a series largely mired in heaping amounts of B.S. The fact that they’ve been able to make me forget that time and again over the course of the show’s run is precisely why it was on the air for so long. “Entourage” over the years accomplished what few other concepts of its ilk have managed: They took a group of easy to dislike characters – entitled Hollywood types – and humanized them in such a way that we ended up caring about them. That is no mean feat, given the behavior that was often exhibited on this series. There’s simply no good reason anyone outside of Hollywood should ever have liked this show, and yet the one thing that’s always been in the corner of “Entourage” is how damn easy it’s been to watch.
Likewise, Season Eight is just as easy to sit through as previous years – and by and large it provides satisfactory endings for its characters – but don’t be surprised when your reaction to the Vince portion of the series finale is one of outrage, rather than happiness. In any case, I now demand the rumored “Entourage” movie, if only so that Doug Ellin can fix what’s so very clearly broken with the series finale. Be sure to sit through all the way through the end credits of the final episode – which shouldn’t be difficult as Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California” plays over them – because there’s some bonus Mr. and Mrs. Ari at the close, which may just offer some hints as to what’s in store for the movie should it come to pass.
Special Features: Unfortunately, we were not provided with a Blu-ray screener for this set, which, as I understand it, contains commentary tracks that the DVD does not. Indeed, aside from season recaps for every season prior to this one, there is only one extra, and that’s a 30-minute featurette entitled “Hollywood Sunset: A Farewell to ‘Entourage’,” which is a nice little promo puff piece that probably aired on HBO at the time of the finale, but can hardly be considered a true celebration of a show that’s been on the air for as long as this one has.