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Entourage: The Complete Eighth Season (Blu-ray Review)

14 Jun, 2012 By: John Latchem

Two-disc set, $39.98 DVD, $49.99 Blu-ray
Not rated.
Stars Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven, Rex Lee, Perry Reeves, Rhys Coiro, Scott Caan, Emmanuelle Chriqui.

In its eight seasons on HBO, “Entourage” became one of Sunday night’s guilty pleasures: a “Sex and the City” for guys about an up-and-coming movie star and his New York pals navigating their way through the glamour and shallow treachery of Hollywood.

The attitude behind the show is well covered in the lone extra on the Blu-ray, a nifty mini-documentary called Hollywood Sunset that aired on HBO last year as a prelude to the final episode, featuring cast interviews, creator reflections and screen tests.

Initially conceived as a TV version of “Swingers,” the show found its creative hook as a fictionalized version of Mark Wahlberg’s life in the form of Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier). In its first few seasons, the show seemed more about the misadventures of Vince’s outspoken agent, Ari Gold, a role that won Jeremy Piven three straight Emmys. In later years the spotlight turned more to Kevin Dillon’s great Johnny Drama character — Vince’s wisecracking Hollywood has-been older brother — before shifting back to Ari and Vince in the final year.

If the show limped to the finish line, it was because “Entourage” was always about the journey, about spending time with these guys and seeing how they would roll with whatever obstacles confronted their quest for Hollywood glory. One of the biggest problems that plagued the final season of “Entourage” was the way the storylines were so transparently contrived to bring about some sense of closure in the finale, none worse than Vince’s out-of-nowhere infatuation with a reporter (Alice Eve) and the inexplicable wedding subplot that ensued.

The season’s biggest sin was the way it tried to give its Hollywood tale a Hollywood ending, reducing its main narrative thrust to the romantic entanglements of its core characters, a move far too conventional for a show that wanted to be seen as hip, edgy and, dare I say it, cynical as “Entourage” set itself up to be. Ari’s marital troubles at least garnered some interest by re-introducing Dana Gordon (Constance Zimmer) into the mix as Ari’s new squeeze (a coupling even the show’s porno parody wanted to happen), before snapping back to the traditional approach.

At least the show still had Johnny Drama going for it, and Dillon shines both in his own storylines and doing what he could as a supporting player in the DOA love stories (his suave appeals on behalf of Vince are the stuff of Johnny Drama legend).

So the final few episodes don’t quite rise to the level of what the show should be, wrapping up as much as it can before tacking on one final scene to stir the pot in advance of the inevitable movie. But at least it can’t be said that the show didn’t depart without a touch of style.

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