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DVD Review: Entourage: The Complete Eighth and Final Season

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A friend of mine once described Entourage as “Sex and the City for guys.” I initially thought the comment was ridiculous, as the subject matter of the two shows was (on the surface at least) very different. I have come to the conclusion though that he may have had a point. The fact is, Sex and the City was always a guilty pleasure of mine anyway. I was “forced” to watch it with my girlfriend, but I kind of liked it. Of course I could never admit that to her, but what the hell, now it’s out there.

Comparisons to the four chicks in Sex and the City, and the four dudes in Entourage aside though, I have never made any bones about how much I enjoyed Entourage. And I was very surprised when they called it a day last year with their eighth season. The fact is, the guys were all getting a little too old to be living together and acting like teens. So it made sense to end it, before it became a parody of itself. I have to say that I miss them though. It’s kind of like when Regis Philbin “retired” a few months ago. It was obviously time for him to do it, and it certainly made sense. But now I simply cannot watch Live With Kelly, it just is not the same without him.

The “official” star of the show was Adrian Grenier as Vincent Chase, but the real star was Jeremy Piven as Ari Gold. I guess the proof is in the pudding as they say, for Piven won three Emmys for his performance over the years. The character, and Piven’s portrayal was comedy gold, some of the funniest stuff I have ever had the privilege to watch.

In the final season of Entourage, Ari Gold’s marriage problems constitute the bulk of the tension in the show. But there are plenty of other events going on in the world of Entourage, that tempting as it might be, I am not going to play spoiler.

I have to be honest, the finale (as noted on blogs worldwide) was a disappointment. It felt completely rushed, trying to tie up the various loose ends, and not doing a very good job of it. For those who will be seeing it for the first time on the newly released two-DVD set Entourage: The Complete Eighth and Final Season, I will make a simple comparison that might make sense. Remember the final Seinfeld episode, or that of The Sopranos? “The End” was the title, and It left a lot of questions unanswered.

The possibility of a feature film may push the various plotlines to their conclusions, but who’s to say? Since I have already copped to the guilty pleasure of being a straight male who enjoyed Sex and the City, let me just say that particular show ended with a very pitch-perfect close. And the movies were horrible. As much as I like Entourage, the final show was a let-down.

Maybe that was the point though. I certainly enjoyed every one of the number of episodes leading up to the end. And if I didn’t know that “The End” was actually the final show of the series, I would just look at it as a cliff-hanger, and be looking forward to season nine.

The season begins with Vince getting out of rehab. Besides the main five characters, Vincent Chase (Adrien Grenier), Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon), Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly), “Turtle” (Jerry Ferrara) and Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), one of the breakout stars in Entourage is Scott Lavin (Scott Caan). He plays Eric’s partner in their new agency Murphy – Lavin, and is really great. A total Ari-in-training, and another reason I wish the series had continued.

As the season progresses, the underlying theme is the gang’s worries about Vince’s sobriety, as well as Ari’s marriage. As has been a recurring theme for the past few seasons, there is also the on-again, off-again romance between Eric and the love of his life, Sloan.

Ok, I’m not going to be a spoiler, some things are resolved at the end. But it really does seem rushed, and just to be clear, it is not all candy and roses. I think HBO would have accepted an hour-long finale, and that might have helped. So even though this review kind of focuses on my disappointment with the finale, the fact is the final season of Entourage also has some very great moments in it as well.

The truth is, I am going to miss this show a lot. Call it a male Sex and the City or not, it was a fun ride. I really enjoyed it, and the way the writers were able to build the characters into people we cared about.

So yes, the verdict is that the final season of Entourage is a must for fans. I wanted more out of the finale, but it is what it is. There has never been a more heartbreaking moment on this program than when Ari’s wife tells him flat out that she is now seeing someone else. Jeremy Piven is brilliant not only in the comedic (and ridiculously rude) comments he casually throws out, but as a man whose whole life has suddenly imploded. He’s an asshole who is an absolute workaholic, but it is all done for his family (and clearly for his own ego).

The whole underlying sobriety business seems a bit overplayed though. Not only is Vince out of rehab, but one of the craziest characters in the show, director Billy Walsh (Rhys Coiro), is also now sober. I’m sorry, but didn’t that all play itself out in the late ’80s with Aerosmith and Sam Kinison? And yes, it is current with Charlie Sheen and Lindsey Lohan, but still.

The guest stars Entourage has always been able to attract is kind of amazing. I mean they even got Bono of U2 to wish Johnny “Drama” (Kevin Dillon) happy birthday during a concert at the Staples Center a few seasons back. Gary Cole makes a cameo as Ari’s best friend, who despite Ari’s best efforts, fell victim to his own demons. And how can you deny Andrew Dice Clay? Especially in this role where he and Johnny become voice actors for a cartoon called Johnny’s Banannas.

Besides recaps of all the seasons (each about 2:00), there is a fine piece titled “Hollywood Sunset: Farewell Tribute to Entourage” which runs just under a half-hour, and is a nice bonus.

There is a lot of fun to be had in this final season. And as Billy Walsh sums things up at one point, “We have all been humbled in this business.” Despite my misgivings about “The End, the season as a whole was a strong one, and a must for fans.

Entourage: The Complete Eighth and Final Season will be released June 12.

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About Greg Barbrick