Cast: Kevin Connoly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jeremy Pivon
First things first, I’ve been a big fan of ENTOURAGE from jump-start. Second things second, this eighth and final season is supremely disappointing.
The show began many moons ago as a comedy-drama charting the antics of a group of guys on the roller-coaster rise and fall and rise and fall and rise again story of fictitious up-and-comer turned Hollywood A-lister – Vincent Chase. Unfortunately, as the show has drawn to a close this roller-coaster ride has been less like the Nemesis at Alton Towers and more like the things that rock toddlers back and forward for 50p a go outside of supermarkets.
It’s just pretty dull. The characters that made people like the show have all been somewhat diluted. For a show that runs for this long (only THE SOPRANOS lasted longer on HBO) character arcs and development are an absolute must, but in the vast majority of cases, our friends from ENTOURAGE changed for the worst. When I say ‘for the worst’ I’m talking about the perspective of the audience, of course. In real life, changing from a bile-spewing, money-hungry, win at all costs Hollywood agent into a caring retired family man is change for the best, but in the world of HBO television, I want to watch Ari as the former, not the latter. Even, the drug-fuelled mentalist auteur Billy Walsh (who makes ‘films’, not movies) has become a clean living, humble piece of set dressing. The four main guys – Vince, E, Turtle and Drama – fell victim to being forced into ‘happy ending’ storylines and therefore the actors who created such accomplished likeable-no-matter-what characters didn’t get to stretch their legs either. Especially Kevin Dillon’s awesome ‘Johnny Drama’. Gutted.
Despite an off-target episode which features the suicide of a relapsing drug-addict, for a comedy-drama, it didn’t really have either. Doug Ellin has been the show runner for its entire on-screen run so the one thing it should’ve been is consistent. But a closer look at the writing team finds those responsible for some of the most memorable episodes (Larry Charles, Brian Burns & Rob Weiss) nowhere to be found on this final season. Where are the Turtle and Drama adventures? Where are trips to Vegas and Cannes? Instead of Drama in his ‘Rufus Home Solutions’ hat, we get Turtle peacefully leaving a company now floated on the stock market (not comedy or drama), Vince deciding to produce a movie about Miners (not comedy or drama) and E spitefully hooking up with the love of his life’s ex-stepmother but still somehow winning her back (dumb).
As for the strong and lengthy list of cameos that the show usually boasts, season eight once again came up short. The season seven finale had John Cleese, Eminem, and Christina Aguilera; the season 8 finale has Barry alvarez and Il Volo. I’ll wait while you open a new browsing tab to Google who those people actually are…
A definite plus to the Season eight DVD is the retrospective documentary that covers the show from its genesis to conclusion via the casting, anecdotes, and interviews with Mark Wahlberg’s actual entourage, on which the show was originally loosely based. A particular highlight from these interviews being the Gary Busey segment, a man who is relentlessly interesting (i.e. crazy) and had one of the most memorable cameos in the show’s history. The main reason this DVD extra was so great is that it worked as a reminder of the reasons I loved the show in the first place. So let’s raise a glass in hope that the often-rumored and pretty-much-confirmed ENTOURAGE movie can be the bang on which the show should’ve gone out.
ENTOURAGE season eight is available to buy on DVD & Blu-ray 11th June.