TV Review: ENTOURAGE, 8.5 - "Motherf*cker"

In the latest episode in Entourage's final season, the fairer sex pose problems for Vince, E and Ari, whilst Drama's dream of starring in his own show again rapidly becomes a nightmare...

€œAre you the Dana that our Mom hates€?€ €“ Jonah

rating: 2.5

It€™s getting harder and harder to review this season of Entourage rather than simply just recapping events from each episode; as evidenced by the fact that my review of €˜Whiz Kid€™ last week turned in to more of a rant about the season in general than a review of the episode. But with very little plot progression each week it€™s difficult not to sound like a broken record. There€™s been some considerable debate in recent years amongst TV critics on the differences between a review and a recap, and personally I always try and keep my writing in line with the former rather than the latter. Until I started covering the show weekly for What Culture! Entourage was never really a show on my radar for reviews precisely for the reasons listed in those opening two sentences. I used to just watch Entourage, a show that I always have really liked - and still do €“ contrary to how my reviews may have made it appear in recent weeks, with the brain firmly switched off for a bit of glossy, shallow escapism. Now though, having to review the show each week, I€™m forced to look deeper in to the show and try and find some sort of subtext to pick in to, but the lack of any sort of substance is becoming frustrating. Obviously with the likes of a Sons of Anarchy, a Mad Men or a Breaking Bad, shows that are all just dripping with symbolism and psychological and sociological issues to digest, it€™s easy to write a lengthy review week in, week out. You€™re probably wondering then why I elected to cover Entourage on a weekly basis; the reason is that with this being the show€™s final season it seemed to me that we would be treated to plenty of big moments that were pay-offs to eight years of devotion to the show. Sadly though that€™s not how things have panned out and thus far season eight has felt more like a regular old season of Entourage, and an average one at that. I went down this road last week though, so if anyone wishes to hear more of my thoughts on the season as a whole then you can find them here For those of you wishing I would just stop moaning and get on with covering this week€™s episode then read on. The profanely titled €˜Motherfucker€™ was admittedly marginally better than last week€™s season low point, so I€™m going to try and emphasise the positive for the most part here. First though, an inescapable negative: the episode titles this season have largely been puns that are a kind of beat-you-over-the-head reference to an incident within the episode as well as holding a double meaning to wider events in the show. So with a title such as €˜Motherfucker€™, the second Melinda Clarke (in the world of Entourage €“ E€™s ex-Stepmom) sauntered back on to screen, it was obvious what was going to transpire by episode€™s end a mile away. Hats off to Clarke (still man-eating cougar Julie Cooper from The OC to me) for portraying herself the way she did though. Sure, by now everyone knows that the celebrities playing themselves on Entourage are relishing exaggerating or having fun with their public image, but to portray yourself as a woman who would happily sleep with your ex-husband€™s ex-potential son-in-law is still a bold move if you ask me. E is normally the most level-headed member of the entourage but this week he ignored the warnings at every turn and found himself being used as a pawn in Melinda€™s vendetta against Terrence, no doubt ruining any chance he might have had to reconcile with Sloan in the process. The title of the episode this week could also have been an allusion to the way Drama must be feeling over the nightmare his animated show has become though. It took another whole episode to get Drama to where he should have been two weeks ago, but we finally now have him joining Dice and walking out on the show. At the beginning of the season I€™d been hoping that we€™d get to see the cartoon€™s success before the curtain came down on Entourage but the way things have gone this season it now looks as though the resolution to this storyline will be that we get to see Drama at least have a chance of success by the show eventually getting made. There is a part of me though that still feels as though there€™s misery around the corner for Johnny with regard to Johnny€™s Bananas and those feelings were only aroused further in this episode when Phil blew smoke up Johnny€™s ass about being the man the show would be built around. Was this a ploy to get Drama€™s ego raging and entice him to threaten to quit knowing the network will call his bluff and get someone else in? I can€™t see how that would benefit Phil but there could be forces at work there that we aren€™t yet privy to. If that was to go down, then Vince€™s miner movie could end up being the huge success for Johnny that I always imagined the show would end on, which in a way would be far more poetic and make the time spent on the as yet non-existent movie a lot more palatable. Turtle and his superfluous-as-always storylines meanwhile were pretty much kept on the backburner for the most part this week, other than a few allusions to Don Pepe€™s that were fine in the context of Vince€™s storyline. Which brings us Vince who, according to Shauna, was out to €œrehab his image€ by giving an in-depth interview to journalist Sophia Lear for Vanity Fair. Sophia incidentally is played by the remarkable Alice Eve, undoubtedly one of this country€™s finest exports. As enjoyable as it was to see Eve portray a woman that is usually an alien concept on Entourage: intelligent, talented, sophisticated and able to resist the advances of the great Vincent Chase, it was still ridiculously predictable that the journalist assigned to interview Vince would be a beautiful woman. So now with only three episodes to go we have a new storyline set up for Vince as he relentlessly pursues Sophia. It might not be your typical Vince love interest storyline, as his interest in a woman so different to his usual tastes could signify he€™s finally growing up, but he€™s still back to chasing a woman, and I had been of the mindset that after rehab, getting his miner movie made would be his big arc this year. I€™ll reserve judgement on Sophia€™s introduction until I see how the follow up is handled, but if a new love interest for Vince had to be introduced at this late stage, I€™m glad she gets to be played by the delectable Alice Eve. Finally on to Ari and his still disintegrating personal life, he began €˜Motherfucker€™ excited about taking his slightly less than enthused kids to Disneyland only for a script written by Taylor Lautner€™s friend to put the kibosh on those plans. Ari€™s daughter was easily appeased when she learnt she may get to meet the wolfman with €œ4% body fat€ but when Taylor didn€™t show himself and Dana Gordon did to read said script, things soon took a turn in to awkward again for Ari, especially when his son Jonah delivered the opening quote to a shocked Dana. Jonah is played by show-creator Doug Ellin€™s seven-year-old son Luke, who by my count has delivered more memorable one-liners this season than his oddly less than prolific screen Father. Ari€™s bad day at the office was then punctuated by Mrs. Ari revealing that reconciliation was now well and truly off the table, as she had filed for divorce. At the beginning of the season I€™d have been quite sad for Ari at this point but the way they€™ve painted Mrs. Ari this season and those final moments in which Dana called a drunk Ari to offer him an olive branch in their budding romance made me feel that divorce might not be the worst thing that could happen to Mr. Gold right about now. A Hail of Bullets: - I€™ve been hard on Entourage lately but if they want to win me back round, there€™s worse things they could be doing than closing the show with a Rolling Stones song; the credits song this week was €˜The Spider and The Fly€™. - Turtle€™s new favourite website sadly doesn€™t appear to actually exist (yes, I€™m actually sad enough to have checked) but if it did then I€™m sure its creators would be in line to make a shit load of money. - As stated above I€™m not entirely convinced William Fichtner€™s Phil€™s motives are true when it comes to Drama, but Fichtner€™s reaction to Drama saying he€™ll walk was priceless. Fichtner did more there with a few noises of frustration than some actors on this show do with an entire scene of dialogue. - Another brilliant guest star in recent weeks has been Jamie Kennedy, as Dice€™s hack replacement on the show. He€™s not been called by a name yet so it€™s still unclear whether he is Jamie Kennedy or whether he€™s playing a character, but either way the references to his career, or lack therefore of, certainly imply that Kennedy€™s sending his post-Scream career up spectacularly. Plus, his Dice impression, especially the way he nails the €œOh!€ at the end of sentences is just great. - This season the show has become almost an ensemble with the likes of recurring characters Billy, Dana, Scott and even Shauna back for repeat episodes. It€™s strange to think that Rex Lee, who is featured in the credits, has had less screen time than nearly all of the aforementioned characters at this point. Entourage continues Sunday @ 10.30pm on HBO in the US and Monday @ 10.45pm on Sky Atlantic in the UK
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