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Entourage

Entourage is a half hour long comedy-drama about young movie star Vincent Chase and his best friend and manager Eric Murphy. Filling out the entourage are high school friend Turtle and Vince's brother Johnny "Drama" Chase. High powered, ambitious and foul mouthed agent Ari Gold also helps to manage Vince's career. HBO 2004-11

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Episode 2 - Amongst Friends

22 March 2012

Synopsis: Eric invites Sloan to the Gatsby premiere as a friend. He blows off Ashley, one of his recent dates but runs into her awkwardly at the event. Turtle meets the media while on Jamie’s arm and Johnny deals with his loose date Kelly. Eric eventually tells Sloan that he wants her back but she turns him down. Meanwhile Ari is keen for his wife and Andrew’s to get on well. They bond fine but then he realises that Andrew is having an affair with one of their junior agents. Lloyd’s diet begins in earnest.

The Good: I focus heavily on the plausibility of stories and characters in my reviews. But one of the reasons Entourage works so well as a television show are its sets, guest stars and locations. Living vicariously through Vince's entourage is one of the hooks of the show. To see sweeping Californian vistas, packed LA restaurants and bars, movie studios and of course premiere parties is all part of the fabric of the show. It’s key both to making the show feel real and to making fans admire and desire the lifestyle on display.

The show has been impressive in this department season after season and this episode is no exception. Another thing worth mentioning is that the show doesn’t operate inside normal network parameters. So there is much less pressure to stagger these big party episodes to maximise ratings. So here we are on episode two of the season and already we get an action packed episode which could have been a season finale on another show. The Gatsby red carpet and after party looks hugely impressive and of course the limo rides and champagne all add to that.

As for the episode itself, it’s classic good television. It uses a central point in all our character’s lives (the premiere) to shine a light on our characters emotional states. As usual we get the running banter between Johnny and Turtle and the teasing of Eric which all flows as believably as ever. But the individual stories are really strong here.

One of the nicest moments which the series has perhaps ever produced was Jamie introducing Turtle to the media. Turtle has never sought the limelight and so his bashful behaviour is instantly likeable in a show about actors. And of course the subtext is clear and fantasy like too. He doesn’t think Jamie will want to be seen on camera with him and so he hides away until she yanks him centre stage to kiss him. Lovely stuff.

The show had a strong theme of friendship running through it actually. It was nice to see Vince bump into Eric amidst the party and have an honest moment. The best friend could see through all the joking and lying that Eric wanted to be back with Sloan. Eric’s relationship with her will doubtless run and run this season and she plays her part as the socialite with the heart of gold so well that I’m sure it will continue to entertain. The casting of young and overawed Ashley was spot on. She physically fit the part set out for her perfectly and Eric for his part looked as uncomfortable with lying as ever. The fact that Sloan brought up their original break up and the specific reasons for it (320, 402) was excellent detail work.

Over to Ari’s friendship with Andrew Kline and some distinctly tragic results may be about to occur. The speed with which Andrew has gone from Ari’s best friend to adulterer was a flaw but Ari’s reactions to it were pitch perfect. For all his arrogance, rudeness and ruthlessness, he tells it straight. He tells Andrew absolutely clearly that cheating on his wife could ruin all the good things that have just happened to him.

There is so much depth to this development that it’s a shame it had to be rushed into. Ari’s first reaction is selfish but completely understandable. He shouted down his partner in order to get Andrew hired. Considering she bailed Ari out in the first place that was a huge decision for him and so if Andrew now screws up it will reflect very badly on him. More than that of course is Ari’s understandable feeling that Andrew owes him an awful lot and this affair is deeply ungrateful.

Then there is the sadder part of Ari’s anger. Ari has found a friend. An equal. Someone to share the good times with. Ari is hugely excited to get to spend time with his wife and another couple and actually have a good time. Entourage is just too brief a show to ever explore issues like this in detail. But of course it is one of the sacrifices which marriage forces on people, spending time with those you don’t really care for because your other half does. Now Ari is afraid of losing his friend and returning to a world of irritating husbands.

Finally there is Andrew who quite rightly says “this is not about you.” We don’t know about Andrew’s own marital situation. But one can easily imagine how wonderful he would have felt to have a gorgeous twenty six year old fall for him and see him as desirable and exciting after years of marriage. Again it’s an understandable, relatable story which the show won’t have time to go in depth on.

The Bad: Eric asking the group if he could think about Sloan while having sex with Ashley seemed ludicrously out of character. This is a man who barely acknowledges his best friends’ questions about his personal life. Suddenly he is willing to be that graphic with strangers in the room?

Comic Highlight: Ever reliable Johnny Drama. Realising he will be the only dateless guy at the premiere, he quickly asks out Kelly, the girl fitting them for their tuxedos. She hesitatingly agrees. “She loves me (he rationalises as she leaves), I better get some rubbers.”

Victory?: A terrific episode on many levels. Entourage is better than any show on television right now at the fine art of hinting at depth. The show isn’t really designed to go in depth into its characters lives. But the writing is so good at presenting real feeling situations and drawing simple relatable emotions out of them. Wrapped up in its lavish settings it really can present episodes like this: busy, enjoyable, entertaining.

('DiggThis)

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