The Husband:

No matter what your thoughts are on most of Entourage‘s sixth season, and oh man do I know a lot of people who were threatening to give up on the show this year, I think it ended on a very clear, concise note of an overarching theme that just took too long to get started. No matter what the flaws, the constant deviation away from the life of central character Vinnie Chase and his movie star woes, one remarkably poor casting decision, it wrapped up nicely, and season six came to be about the pros and cons of being impulsive. Everybody except Vince — who pretty much had no arc thanks to him already having a job to go to at the end of the season, shooting Frank Darabont’s Ferrari biopic — completely redefined their lives over the course of what seemed like a very short season, and while it couldn’t get to the heights of some of Entourage‘s best arcs, a lackluster season of this show is still an effortlessly watchable endeavor.

This was the year that we really got into the lives of “the guys,” and for better or worse, I’m glad it was able to dive so deeply. Eric, failing to get his management company off of the ground, takes a job at a bigger firm run by George Segal, gets a sweet-ass receptionist played by Brokeback Mountain‘s Kate Mara (who will definitely present some major opposition to E’s happiness next season) and already establishes himself as a dominate force against douchey Scott Caan. But his love life has become lazy, and his multi-episode back-and-forth with Alexis Dziena didn’t seem to amount to anything other than obnoxious scenes that went nowhere. And yes, Dziena sucked the life out of any scene in which she appeared, even though I can’t remember having a problem with her acting in the past in work such as Invasion and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. But she was terribly miscast here, and her presence was only validated when E finished off the season declaring his love for Emmanuelle Chriqui’s Sloan and finally getting engaged. It took a long time to get going, but I’m fine with E’s story overall. His impulsiveness threatened to destroy two of his relationships, but it ended up working in his favor.

Turtle, meanwhile, got the best arc of the season, or at least the most sincere, in exploring his relationship with Jamie-Lynn Sigler after their canoodling last season. For the first time in a while, their relationship seemed to be built with a major dose of reality, and their problems — her jealousy, his wandering eye while studying business at UCLA, the long-distance dating problem that is part of the world of a wanted film and television actor — didn’t feel like the frat raunch fest mode that this show has a tendency to slip into. And upon their final break-up, Turtle’s impulsive decision to hop aboard a plane headed for New Zealand turned into humiliation, and here’s hoping that between this and his education, he can mature further into adulthood.

Drama’s story was the one I dreaded the most this season, because honestly I tend to roll my eyes at nearly everything he does nowadays. I’ve been sick of his shitty decision-making for seasons now, and his comic relief persona hasn’t rubbed me the right way the entire time. It’s one thing for the world to work against you, but it’s another to be the sole cause of all of your problems, whether you were an asshole in the past or an asshole in the present. His impulsive decision, based entirely around the word of somebody who could have easily fucked up his career just for kicks, to drop out of Five Towns (after his physical confrontation with that douche from Eli Stone, of course) only to see his Melrose Place audition nearly cause him a heart attack (no thanks to you, Dean Cain), was going to be the latest straw of self-destructive behavior. But for the most part, this show doesn’t like to keep its characters in hell, and while Drama suffered so much this season that he nearly quit acting, his MP audition got “the network” interested in creating a star vehicle just for him. The soul-searching came too late to really save the arc, but it’s appreciated nonetheless.

And, of course, we have the saga of Ari versus Lloyd, whose pairing finally implodes when Ari so terribly tortures his assistant that Lloyd has no choice but to up and quit, moving on over to Malcolm McDowell’s company (and Ari’s former employer). It had been a long time coming, and the only way to break what was starting to become a tedious plot device (Lloyd does something good, Ari berates him, repeat) blossomed into something bigger and better. This led to Ari making some majorly ill-advised impulsive decisions when offered the chance to buy out McDowell and merge their companies, but his final decision to give in to a few ego-bruising demands made it all worthwhile. It’s still a bitch that Ari would even consider using his wife’s television money to make the deal, and that it was originally all for spite, and maybe you shouldn’t go around shooting paintballs at your new employees to indicate that the merger equals them losing their jobs, it was an emotional change for Ari nevertheless. It was also a considerably better story than last year’s moral quandary over whether or not he should have become a studio head.

No one likes you right now.

No one likes you right now.

Yes, some of the episodes didn’t add up, and the stalker mini-story fit into what Ebert would call the Idiot Plot where everything could have easily been solved had everybody not been a complete idiot. I don’t think I hate the golf episode as much as, say, my sister does, but the fact that I barely remember it doesn’t speak volumes for its quality either. It’s a pain in the ass to have Vinnie become a non-character on his own goddamn show, though, and Entourage always works better when he’s struggling for work, but it’s not like I hated anything he was doing.

But admit it, you really liked the episode where Zac Efron and Frank Darabont make some surprising (fake) revelations about themselves, the Aaron-Sorkin-visiting-Gary-Cole-in-jail episode was a better episode than it had any right to be, and Matt Damon outright stole the season finale.

With the show’s evolution comes the fact that we can’t simply see the same stories over and over again, and while showrunner Doug Ellin (who I didn’t realize played the asshole TV director until about an hour ago) doesn’t always know how to structure an episode as well as, say, James L. Brooks could, and he still has a bit of an emotional disconnect from his characters at the oddest times, he’s realized this fact. The stories may not be working at a 100% success fate, but in this day and age, I’ll settle for 75%. Besides, do you remember the first season, where nothing happened? That’s how you should weigh all seasons of Entourage, because it’s not the plot that matters, but the characters. Disagree if you wish, but I always look forward to another summer and another season.

But goddamn it, I wish they would have showed us at least one scene from Martin Scorsese’s Gatsby. We can all agree on that.


The Husband:

Things we learned from the previous week of Big Brother:

  • Kevin is a better player than most of us thought. I always had an inkling, and would have loved to see him receive the power of Coup d’Etat, but he revealed a very shrewd side of his gameplay by not using his hard-earned Power of Veto (the egg competition looked nigh impossible) to save his bestie-best Lydia from the block. His explanation, which makes perfect sense in a strategic fashion but not as far as friendship is concerned, was that he didn’t want to make any enemies. Good call, Kevin, even though it took me by quite a bit of surprise.
  • As a result, Lydia thinks Kevin is a “poopy bear.”
  • Chima was raped by a serial killer. My wife and I disagree over whether or not two murders counts as making one a serial killer, but he was definitely a serial rapist.
  • Jordan seems to baffle Jeff on a constant basis, and after a lengthy discussion on how spiders “do it,” gives him the best line of the week: “Jordan, what do you think about all day?”
  • Jeremy Piven is a bit of a media whore, but at least he brought the house a bit of levity. Still, CBS doesn’t usually allow such majorly R-rated films to be advertised right on their very show, so The Goods seemed like an extremely odd fit. Imagine all the blue-haired ladies who watch this show going to the movie theatre based on BB‘s advertising, only to be aghast at the number of times the word “pussy” is uttered during the film’s running length.
    Ohmigod, Jeremy Piven, I cannot believe you just said pussy in your moooooovie!

    Ohmigod, Jeremy Piven, I cannot believe you just said "pussy" in your moooooovie!

  • Somehow everybody decided to become eight years old again, as evidenced by the agreed-upon name for the hidden power: the Wizard Power. I was amazed nobody mentioned anything about dragons or princesses. (Well, Chima’s family did describe her as a princess, but completely unrelated to anything wizard-based.) (Wife’s Note: But Jessie was, in fact, pretty sure a unicorn would somehow oust him from the house. So, there’s that.)
  • Chima is a sore loser, and her outcry after Jeff used the Coup d’Etat to overthrow her nominations that she needed to “have a talk with the producers” as well as bitching about them not being able to go back into the house after the HOH competition (I assume that they’re getting Jessie’s belongings, as he didn’t have time to pack) just further cements her as one of the most spiteful contestants Big Brother has ever seen.
  • Russell apparently has “ugly-ass cauliflower ears.”
  • Russell is overly sensitive about race to the point that he misunderstands insults, such as “terrorist.”
  • We, apparently, are victims of major CBS editing (what’s new?), as my previous statement could be disproven as it has been mentioned that Chima has actually said some terribly racist things to Russell and that when she said “terrorist,” she may have actually meant what he thought she meant. But we wouldn’t know, since we don’t have live feeds, and I couldn’t find out anything on YouTube yesterday.
  • I’m a fickle bitch, because I actually didn’t want to see Jessie go. I was actually really starting to like him, but I have to consider whether or not I’m just simply comparing him to last year and having a knee-jerk reaction. But he somewhere along the line became noble, or at least the only person who would stand up to Russell and call him out on his bullshit without resorting to Chima-like histrionics.
  • My wife and I disagree greatly on Jeff using the Coup d’Etat. I just really wanted to see Russell go home, but my wife was more interested in having a very entertaining game, and she was basically chanting for him to use it. I think it puts Jeff out in the open too much, even if he has the numbers to back him up. It will bite him in the ass later on, and I still doubt he’ll make it to top 3 as a result because the house will soon see he and Jordan as the house’s biggest threat and split them up the first chance they get. But my wife has said that as long as Chima and Natalie get evicted from the house, she doesn’t entirely care who wins. Nobody has stood out as a major show hero this year, I agree, but I still have my preferences.
  • Michele is owning everybody’s asses.

The Wife:

I was indeed extremely excited for Jeff to use his Coup d’Etat power because I knew it was the only way to break up the Jessie-Natalie-Chima alliance. Natalie is nothing without Jessie to follow around and, while I agree that he became a much better person this season, he still fell back on some of his old gameplay from last year. He knew he was going home, and rather than fight for it, he just gave up, sleeping away half his days, as Julie pointed out in his exit interview. This is exactly what he did last year, as well. The minute he knew there was a change in the wind, he just gave up.

Do I think Russell is a d-bag? Absolutely. However, when he doesn’t allow himself to get overcome by emotions and foiled by the intricacies English semantics, he actually has shown me some smart gameplay. Case in point: his appeal to Jessie at the pool table in which he told the bodybuilder that the ladies of the house would most certainly oust him sooner rather than later because they know they can’t win physical competitions against him. That’s the moment in which I think Jessie knew he was doomed.

I really believe that the biggest d-bag in the house is Chima, though. I feel sympathetic regarding her rape, and I admire her dedication in being a “survivor” and not a “victim.” However, she’s still a terrible person. She’s a diva, an instigator and not as smart as she thinks she is by any stretch of the imagination. Nothing has made me feel better about my opinion of Chima than hearing the package in which her grandmother commented on her beloved Chima’s actions in the house . . . and seeing the elderly woman’s complete and total disappointment in Miss Chima’s lack of civility and downright stank-ass attitude about everything. That is not how she raised that girl to be! I hope Chima watches that package one day and weeps openly for disappointing her meemaw, that sweet old lady who raised her while her mamma was overseas. WE DO NOT TREAT OUR MEEMAWS LIKE THAT!

And on a final note, Miss Julie, I really liked your polka dot dress . . . until I saw that it had both a bubble hem AND some sort of dust ruffle. You were classy from the boobs up, and a mess from the baby bump down. But we’re getting there! Anything’s better than the yellow jogging suit!

The Wife:

While I don’t recall ever watching the original run of Rob Thomas’ Cupid back in 1998 with Paula Marshall and Jeremy Piven, I admit that I am the kind of person who would be drawn to such a premise. I love Greco-Roman mythology and I enjoy seeing modern adaptations and spins on it, and offering my “I’m friends with a Classics professor so I totally know what I’m talking about” judgments on whether or not those adaptations succeed. (Although the CW’s Valentine, about Greek gods living in L.A., just didn’t seem to pique any level of interest in me at all. Nor in anyone else, apparently.) So being that I don’t recall ever watching Cupid in the 90s – which I realize now was probably because it was airing on Saturday nights, which just means ABC wanted it dead from the beginning and that I was also probably too busy going to sleepovers, being dared to call boys I liked and read them bedtime stories, to tune in – I figured I would give the reboot a chance.

And you know what? That show totally doesn’t suck.

The generosity accorded to Rob Thomas to reboot his formerly failed series by ABC, however, was not as generous in its feelings toward this show as I am. The original run of the series produced 15 episodes, and aired 14. This run was only 7 episodes, intended as a try-out for fall, because that’s how television producers work these days. ABC killed a few great things this year, one of which might rhyme with “Smushing Lazies,” and I think that left viewers a little mistrustful of anything new ABC had planned to debut in the spring. In the Motherhood, while admittedly not great, was interesting simply for the fact that it was a female-led show about an issue that nearly every woman on the planet can relate to (if she isn’t currently a mommy, she certainly had one once), and had a lot of potential to grow and further explore the current parenting climate (which in the last ten years has switched to the kind of stay-at-home-and-do-everything-right-and-organic-and-be-totally-involved-and-honest-with-your-kids idea embraced by Jessica St. Claire’s character) in relationship to other models (the working mom, the cool mom who raised her kids counter to any advice and everything turned out just fine). But it never quite found its footing and so failed its try-out. Better Off Ted is lucky its quirky mcquirkfest survived. Cupid should have.

Bobby Cannavale: Right on the mark as Cupid.

Bobby Cannavale: Right on the mark as Cupid.

Why am I so gung-ho about this show? For one, I think Thomas found the right lead in Bobby Cannavale and was smart to move the show from Chicago to New York. Cannavale is good-looking in an Italian Mama’s Boy sort of way, and incredibly affable. It makes perfect sense that he would be the kind of person strangers would invite into their lives if he offered to help them, and it makes perfect sense that he’s the kind of person clever enough to manipulate social situations to facilitate his matchmaking. In short, if Bobby Cannavale asked me to fly to NYC from New Orleans to cater a party as his Trevor Pierce (renamed from the original Trevor Hale) did in one episode where he reunited a Cajun caterer with her high school Iraqi war vet sweetheart, I probably would. As for the move from Chicago to NYC, NYC is often a space that invites fantasy in many popular stories. I’ll name only one example here that should serve as the paramount one: Miracle on 54th Street. It’s a city with its own mythology and a long history of being a dreammaking place: for immigrants, for actors, dancers and musicians, for artists and also for writers. It’s also a city in which people move and mingle with others numerous times a day, but promotes the isolation of modernity in that while its denizens inhabit mutual spaces, they don’t often connect with each other. I buy it as a place a god would try to turn into matchmaking central, especially because his therapist’s single’s groups prove to be an integral part of how the show’s main and peripheral characters, and how they are all trying to break away from the isolation of modernity and connect with others. There was talk in the production process that Cupid would relocate to Los Angeles, and while Francesca Lia Block has convinced me that L.A. can be a space of magical realism, I don’t think it would have worked nearly as well as New York did.

Furthermore, I like the idea of a show that believes in the concept of true love. We live in an age where the CW exploits people’s relationship issues on national television with Hitched or Ditched, where we look at the tabloids every day to see if John & Kate are going to fall the fuck apart (uh . . . yeah, that’s probably going to happen since the couple has a very special “announcement” pending; and I hate that I don’t watch that show and know about this), and where hookups have somehow replaced dating.  We all know that the divorce rate is high, and we all know that my home state has leveraged a terrible and oppressive measure against its non-heterosexual residents that bar them from even daring to challenge that statistic with their same-sex relationships. When I look at the divorce rate and the disappearance of date culture, it seems like a good number of us have given up even trying to sustain a partnership; that we prefer to be alone, save for a brief interaction every now and again that we don’t have to put any further energy into. While I wouldn’t say that having a life partner is right for everyone, I certainly like having someone to watch TV with every day. It makes me feel like this big, giant world is less lonely. That isolation of modernity thing I was talking about? Having someone to go through life with certainly makes me feel less isolated.

So when I see so much negativity toward relationships in the reality television world and in the real actual human world, I can’t help but be smitten by a scripted show that tries to remind us of the good parts of being in a relationship with someone, and how fun it can be to take that plunge. Cupid may only be a string of meet-cutes, but it’s also about love overcoming obstacles. None of the matches Cannavale’s Cupid makes in the 7-episode run are easily procured, and, somehow, through his crazy/divine providence, he is able to unite these couples in the promise of everlasting love. I’ve already mentioned the Cajun caterer and the Iraq veteran, which came to a bittersweet ending as the vet announces that he’s getting stop-lossed and sent back for a third tour of duty, something he planned to avoid by running away to Canada and never coming back – only to change his mind and do his tour of duty, knowing that if he lived, his Cajun caterer would be worth coming home to in order to live out their days under the willow trees in their hometown in Louisiana.

But perhaps my favorite of these divine matches came in the final episode, featuring adorable Broadway ingénue Kerry Butler as a working-class masseuse from South Boston in love with a man above her station (whom she broke up with because he never let her meet his family because of her wicked pissah of an accent). Cupid’s therapist, Claire, tries to find out his origin by hiring a linguist (one of her patients, as well) to listen to him speak and determine his origins. The “using linguistics to discover Trevor’s origins” plot was recycled from the show’s first incarnation, but the My Fair Lady angle was entirely new to this version of the series. But Cupid performs a bait-and-switch, setting up Kerry Butler with illocution lessons in exchange for massages, during which she forms a friendship with the linguist over several delightful My Fair Lady-esque diction lessons. Butler’s character is almost ready to give up, and declares that it doesn’t feel right to her to hide herself just to impress a guy, at which point her linguistics tutor reveals that he, himself, has been lying for most of his life. He, too, is from South Boston, but wasn’t taken seriously on his first day at Princeton because of his accent and worked very hard to eliminate all traces of his working-class roots from his speech. After sending Kerry off to meet with her ex at a fancy, uptown party, Trevor realizes in talking to the linguist that, perhaps, he’s been guiding Miss Butler toward the wrong beau and disguises the linguist as a waiter to crash the party and tell Kerry how he feels. After making a scene in which Butler’s intended’s parents reprimand “the help” for being so clumsy, Kerry throws off the upper-class accent she’s worked so hard for and embraces who she really is, as well as the Henry Higgins who reminded her of that.

If I had one complaint about Cupid, it would be that Sarah Paulson’s Dr. Claire McCrae never quite felt real enough – and not for Paulson’s lack of trying. She’s a great actress, with a lot of range, and if you want to see how great she can be, please watch her arc as a Pinkerton on Deadwood and her completely stunning comic performance in Peyton Reed’s 1960s screwball romance send up, Down with Love, in which you will also be treated to Ewan McGregor’s delightfully Ewan McGregor-y Southern accent. Paulson never got to break through her material here, and always seemed too stiff to fit into this world, which is only justifiable in the fact that her awkwardness in the role highlighted the irony that she, single and totally uncomfortable with people, should be in charge of teaching people how to find love through commonality. I think, if the show had gotten more of a chance, Claire would have eventually felt more real as her own walls started to break down and we learned as much about her as she does about Trevor Pierce.

I’ll miss this show, and I’m sad that we live in a world that’s unaccepting of its existence. But I’ll cherish that “My Fair Massuese” episode, if only because linguists are awesome and the following line is one of the best things I’ve heard on television recently:

“Nothing says ‘Thank You’ like the phonetic alphabet on cupcakes!” – Kerry Butler

The Husband:

A few points of interest:

1.) I adore Sarah Paulson, but between this and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, she’s gaining quite a few detractors. She’s not to the point of being an absolute show-killer just yet, but her dedication to her craft, which allows her to make very interesting decisions with very intense and sometimes unlikable characters, tends to give her a bad wrap, at least on television. But I can assure you that she’s one of the most versatile actresses of her generation, including her deeply strange performance that I saw in 2005’ Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie, also starring Jessica Lange, Christian Slater and Josh Lucas.

2.) I started noticing this right around the time that Kidnapped, Six Degrees, The Black Donnellys and 3 lbs. were all canceled in the same television season, in that unless a show was a Law & Order or a CSI, any show that filmed in New York was about 90% guaranteed to be canceled. And this year, that trend came back in a big way. With no exception this year, no show that premiered in the 2008-2009 television season and was shot (not just set) in New York was renewed for another season. (And Castle doesn’t count, because it’s shot in L.A.) This would include Life on Mars, The Unusuals and now Cupid. (And last year’s Lipstick Jungle, which moved on into this year, couldn’t survive either. But hell, at least it got a second season unlike the majorly similar Cashmere Mafia.) A part of me wants to say it’s the distancing location that seems to turn many non-New York viewers off, as if these shows take place in a world far too unlike the viewers’ that it simply doesn’t pique their interest. But, more than anything, it’s the fact that it’s so goddamned expensive to shoot in NYC, so even when ratings are doing okay, the networks use the expenses as an excuse to shut down production. I’m amazed Gossip Girl got renewed for a third season, since the ratings are so abysmal, but it’s definitely a pop cultural flagship for the network, so canceling it would just make the CW lose more viewers.

A book recommendation for ANYONE who liked the Left of the Dial episode of Cupid: Rob Sheffields Love Is a Mix Tape.

A book recommendation for ANYONE who liked the "Left of the Dial" episode of Cupid: Rob Sheffield's Love Is a Mix Tape.

3.) While I loved almost every episode of this show, my favorite, simply from a dramatic perspective, was “Left of the Dial,” in which a down-on-his-luck radio deejay tracks down his favorite caller and starts a relationship with her and her two children. It was the sweetest, least negative and most realistic episode of Cupid’s altogether too short season, and it’s a shame that not enough people stuck around to even watch the episode.

The Husband:

All things considered, this was definitely a weak season of Entourage. There’s no way around saying it – the first half of the season was meandering, depressing, unfunny and (worst of all) uninteresting. As I mentioned in my last “checking in on Entourage” post, unemployed Vincent is not really must see TV by any means, as Vinnie has always really just been a catalyst for all the other characters, a straight arrow main character with nary a personality. This is not to see Adrian Grenier is not good as Vinnie Chase. In fact, I think he’s great at playing this kind of aw shucks movie star who can fill movie theatres and draw the attention of many women around Los Angeles and yet proceeds to just…exist…and not much else. It’s a hard role to play and I think people mistake his ability to play nonchalant as an inability to act.

But yes, an unemployed Vinnie is an uninteresting Vinnie, so it was great to see him finally get a job near the end as one of the firefighters in Smokejumpers (a.k.a. Nine Brave Souls). Unfortunately, that production went up in flames when Vinnie clashed with costar Jason Patric and director Werner (Stellan Skarsgard), leading to a fallout between the crazy German director (with his overblown budget) and the studio (who decided to cut their losses and halt production indefinitely).

(No thanks to Entertainment Weekly’s Jessica Shaw for ruining that plot by revealing too much in her TV Watch two issues ago.)

Apply directly to the forehead.

Vinnie Chase: Apply directly to the forehead.

Distraught at an entire television season of failure, Vinnie and the gang return to their native turf of Queens to really take a look at themselves to see where they are at, in their lives, in their careers, as themselves. Vinnie and Eric almost ruin their friendship over trying to get Vinnie an audition for a Gus Van Sant movie currently filming in New York, but make up when they realize that their camaraderie is more important than any Hollywood bullshit. (i.e. the driving force of Entourage, which is its heart and not its excess.)

Since the season comes in at a C+/B-, it would have been a shame to see the show go out on anything other than an extremely high note, so I’m glad that HBO will continue to produce episodes. At the same time, however, this final episode of s5 would have thematically been a great place to wrap up this dramedy. Turtle finally has a steady and loyal girlfriend (Jamie-Lynn Sigler as herself), Drama is now co-owner of a New York City bar, Eric finally lands a mega-deal establishing himself as an agent/manager worth noticing and Vinnie, in the final moments of the episode, is offered the lead in a Scorsese movie (based entirely on the scrapped Smokejumpers dailies). By returning to where it all began and finally giving the characters what they need – in some form or another – is a happy ending for all and not a bad way to go out, storywise.

About that Scorsese movie – it’s apparently a retelling of The Great Gatsby but modernized and set in the Upper West Side, and Vinnie has been tapped to play Nick Carraway. Upon first hearing about the project, a few things put me off until I got over myself and just accepted them. First, the real Great Gatsby is set mere miles from Manhattan and wondered about why the switch, but then I supposed that Long Island really isn’t, for all intents and purposes, as hot socially as it was back in the Roaring ‘20s (save for the Hamptons, which wouldn’t have really fit the story anyway). Then I thought…Vinnie isn’t good enough of an actor to play Carraway, especially in a Scorsese movie, but then realized that, hey, DiCaprio hasn’t been great under Scorsese’s care either (coughgangsofnewyorkcough) and so I just kind of accepted it. Vinnie is a bit of a cipher, and so is Nick Carraway. Vinnie has spent most of his life pretending to be rich and popular as opposed to actually being rich and popular – seriously, how many times has Vinnie been hard up for cash in the entirety of this series? – and was raised in a nonglamorous society, much like Carraway. (Queens isn’t the Midwest, but still, you get my drift.)

So, I decided that he was actually perfect for the role. Gatsby, no, but Carraway, yes. We’ll see how it turns out.

(Yes, I’m weighing the merits of a fake movie. If the show is going to attempt verisimilitude, I have a right to do so, dammit.)

So I simply hope the writers can take a step back and rethink their show for next season. Make us care more. Make it fresh again. Make us actually give a shit about Johnny Drama. But please…no more cousin Dom. He’s a terrible character.

The Husband:

Since the show is in its fifth season and really shows no signs of slowing down, I decided to take a step back with Entourage and only comment when I felt I really needed to, so here I am checking in on Doug Ellin’s HBO comedy about a laid-back movie star and his Hollywood exploits, flanked on all sides by his brother and his best friends.

And boom goes the dynamite . . .

And boom goes the dynamite . . .

After a good opening couple episodes, this season really started to drop for me, but not nearly as much as everyone else online and in other forms of media. People were really hating on it for a good long while, but I still think the nadir of the series is the first few episodes of s3 where they deal with the juggernaut that is Aquaman and its release.

Here, they just seemed to tread water, going all s1 on us and involving the viewers in Vinnie Chase’s dating life, which is never really my favorite. And even when they did this season, it was half-assed. (Hey Entourage, don’t get Leighton Meester to return to the show as a rising pop star, have Vinnie declare his love for her, then only use her for one episode and never have her show up again.) I was also worried about the Giovanni Ribisi/Lukas Haas screenwriter story because in all honesty it was looking like it was going to shape up into another Billy Walsh situation of egomaniacs defending every single one of their wrong decisions.

I did, however, like the “Let’s Go To Joshua Tree And Eat Mushrooms” episode, even though it was at the service of Vinnie deciding whether or not to choose to do a Benji movie, which we knew would never happen.

I must say that after years of defending him and his buffoonish ways, I am finally sick and tired of Johnny Drama’s shenanigans. It’s amusing to see him get himself into tricky predicaments, but somewhere along the line he decided to become Vinnie’s unofficial acting coach and is simply spreading his bad luck everywhere. (The episode where he was on The View and broke down crying after they brought up his recent break-up with the French girl was pretty awful, to boot.) He needs a serious retooling, because otherwise he’s going to drag the show down much, much further.

Three episodes ago, though, it all really started to pick up, because the Entourage I like is the one about moviemaking, plain and simple. Though Vinnie had completely burned his bridges with Warner Bros. after choosing Medellin over Aquaman 2, Ari accidentally gives the studio head a fatal heart attack, and is then asked by the studio’s owner’s conglomerate (for once, Alan Dale shows up not to have a heart attack but to talk about someone else having a heart attack) to take over. The two-episode machination of Ari’s decision was simply great television, a view into the bizarre world of Tinseltown and how hard decisions get made and how quickly one must make them. It was harsh without being nasty as Ari fucked over Carla Gugino’s agent character in her bid for the studio head position and instead showed loyalty to producer and former lover Dana, thus ensuring that he had a trustworthy ally at the studio that could help to make his clients’ dreams come true. (My favorite line of the season is Dana’s response to this good news: “I swear, I’ll rub your cock like it’s 1990.”) Good move, Ari. You’d never survive as a studio chief despite all the money that would be coming your way.

I also appreciate the show when it finds a middle ground between fortune-fucking and adherence to real Hollywood stories, so while Vinnie and E had to make some compromises to get Vinnie into the ensemble for the firefighter film Smokejumpers (the Ribisi/Haas script formerly known as Nine Brave Souls), it launched us as viewers directly into the chaos of filmmaking itself. It’s a roller coaster out there, alright.

I appreciate that we’re getting an extended look at the movie itself being made, because the show has a tendency to avoid such big stories. Queens Boulevard was filmed between s1 and s2, Aquaman between s2 and s3, and Medellin between s3 and s4 (with the first s4 episode giving a fairly good recap of all that happened, but not enough). It’s exciting, to say the least.

Now, the big question is whether or not Vinnie can stand up to Jason Patric for stealing his lines and confront the director (Stellan Skarsgaard being hilarious) over his haphazard and unrehearsed directorial style without getting fired in the process. Unemployed Vinnie Chase is pretty boring, and I would think that Ellin and all of his writers would want to avoid boring us interested viewers.

Three more episodes left in this season, and hopefully it can go out with a bang. Smokejumpers all the way.