Monday, July 11, 2011

HBO’s Entourage, Season 7

In the last few months I have had the opportunity to watch and review two documentaries by Adrian Grenier. I first came to know of Grenier from his starring in the HBO television show, Entourage, a program about a movie star and those around him who helped make him a success. As much as I have enjoyed HBO series in the past, I had never seen an episode of Entourage. It was after viewing the documentaries, both very well done, that I realized I would like to see the series to see Grenier, not as a filmmaker, but to see him instead, as an actor. I recently had the opportunity to review Season 7 of Entourage on DVD and am glad I finally did.

The series Entourage is only 10 episodes long and starting out with Season 7 for me presented some concerns. I was pleasantly surprised at the availability to review the previous 6 seasons of the DVD on the special features in an overview format. I would recommend if getting this series to watch that you not make the same mistake I did, watch the previews before you start watching Season 7. They will catch you up enough to enjoy Season 7.

HBO has a knack for making quality television programs. They have led in Emmy nominations for a reason and many of their programs are in my opinion, as is the case for other pay cable networks such as Showtime, presenting better movies and/or entertainment than many theatrical releases. The excellent direction, the willingness to go places network programs are not willing to leads to and shows a side of real life many viewers appreciate. Here we see the life of a movie star and those around him. They are lives we would likely never know, but with Entourage we have an opportunity to step into that world, seeing the good, the bad, and yes, the ugly.

Now listen to this, or at least read carefully; It is likely that Entourage has the best ensemble cast of any program on television. There is not a weak character or actor on the show, from Vince, played by Granier to his brother Drama played by Kevin Dillon, and others in the cast such as Jeremy Piven, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Connolly, and from CBS’s Hawaii Five-0, Scott Caan. Each character is well developed and enjoyable to see on screen. What I especially appreciated is that we care because the actor or actress in their respective parts does such a good job.

In this season we see the downfall of Vince, his new girlfriend, and the continued self destruction of Ari played by Piven. Vince faces his own fears of life and his attempts at facing those fears have him lead into self-destructive behavior and making continued bad decisions. He becomes so focused on himself that he loses sight of his friends, and what is best for him. There are those to help him, and others who are there to hurt him and take advantage of him. This season plays out quite well the concepts of the need for friends, but the wisdom needed in choosing and listening to those friends.

One of the things that have made Entourage so well received is its realism to the world it represents. We see people strive for more, but ultimately, come back to the place where they realize family and friendship are among the most important things they will experience. It is family who are able to get through in most situations when a friend or loved one is going the wrong way and wrong direction. Of course there are times where one who cares doesn’t know if their efforts will be successful or not. They don’t know because sometimes it is also friends who don’t take seriously their responsibilities to each other. I am reminded in my faith of Jesus being asked the question, ‘Well am I my brothers keeper?’ Jesus more or less responds, ‘You bet you are!’ The truth is we all have a responsibility to each other, but the other truth as presented in this season, is that despite what others may try to do for us, or do to us, we are still responsible for our own actions. We see this in the life of Vince. While I would like to see the previous seasons of Entourage, in this season we see Vince struggle with his own issues, many of which are brought on by his own actions. From his relationship with a porn star, played by real porn star Sasha Grey, to his use of drugs and more, we see the decline of Vince’s character. Grenier does such a good job here that the viewer is torn between cheering for his recovery, to also realizing he can’t continue on in the way he is. For many, they likely have friends and/or family who have been in the same boat. Am I my brother’s keeper? I know I am! I only hope I respond to their needs quicker than I often do. In a world where we often times like to be critical of judging others, and when done inappropriately, rightfully so, we need to also remember, that without our calling into question the acts of those we love when they are acting in a dangerous, inappropriate way, we do more harm to allow them to continue their destructive ways when we sit back and do nothing than when we intervene. Sometimes, intervention, out of love is not only required, it is necessary.

I loved Entourage for a variety of reasons, it is well written, well directed, and the incorporation of truth and fiction into the story lines is amazing. The number of cameos in the series had me dumbfounded. There are so many it is difficult to count, from Mike Tyson to Eminem, and from Bob Saget to John Stamos, I have only begin to mention them. Even Sasha Grey plays herself and much of her real story is used as a backdrop to her character. The innovation of this type of programming is rather outstanding and entertaining. Each episode is shorter than expected and there aren’t enough episodes in a season, even for cable programming, that doesn’t take away from the quality of what we see. I must also make mention, there are some nice special features including commentaries, episode indexes, and more.

For those who are fans of the series, this is must own. It stands on its own for those who have not seen the show as long as they take the time to review the season previews. The series is good enough that I will personally be looking for additional seasons to own. I suspect that while some will not like the rawness and reality of the program, I did. I enjoy the craft of filmmaking and this program does an excellent job at showing the totality of the movie industry with some actors who do their craft very well. Of course, with the best ensemble cast I have seen in some time that is to be expected. HBO has a winner on its hands; unfortunately, word is there is only one more season in the books and a movie release based on the series. That gives new fans like me a little time to catch up and it will be something I look forward to.

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