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(Sundays at 10:30/9:30c starting July 12)
The network's description: "HBO presents Entourage, the hit comedy series executive produced by Mark Wahlberg that takes a look at the day-to-day life of Vincent (Vince) Chase, a hot young actor in modern-day Hollywood, and his entourage. He's brought with him from their hometown in Queens, NY: manager Eric, half-brother Drama, and friend Turtle. The series draws on the experiences of industry insiders to illustrate both the heady excesses of today's celebrity lifestyle, as well as the difficulty of finding love and success in the fast track of show biz. Now that the boys are getting used to the perks of stardom, Eric, along with superagent Ari, keep Vince's star rising while making sound decisions for a long-lasting career in a world of fleeting fame. Adrian Grenier ('Drive Me Crazy,' 'Hart's War') stars as Vince. Kevin Connolly ('Antwone Fisher,' 'John Q') plays Eric, Vince's closest confidant who's learning the rules of the business as he tries to help Vince make the right choices and keep his trajectory aimed high. Kevin Dillon ('The Doors,' 'Platoon') plays Vince's half-brother Drama, whose own acting aspirations have been eclipsed by Vince's success. Jerry Ferrara ('Grounded for Life,' 'Leap of Faith') plays Turtle, the house manager, who's always up for a good time. Jeremy Piven ('Old School,' 'The Larry Sanders Show') plays Ari, Vince's aggressive, high-powered agent, who clashes with Eric over his client's decisions."
What did they leave out? A season-specific description wasn't released so the above will have to do.
The plot in a nutshell: Back on top of the world thanks to Martin Scorsese's "Gatsby," Vince's (Adrian Grenier) latest troubles are far less worrisome than finding his next job: namely getting his driver's license. It seems his next gig is an Enzo Ferrari biopic and the studio is demanding he have a license for insurance purposes, much to the instructional horror of pal/driver Turtle (Jerry Ferrara). Meanwhile, manager Eric (Kevin Connolly) is secretly flirting with finding his own place, not to mention getting back together with Sloane (the always adorable Emmanuelle Chriqui); Turtle is spending an increasing amount of time with girlfriend Jamie-Lynn Sigler; and "big bro" Drama (Kevin Dillon) is often away thanks to the weekly grind of filming his television show. Yup, the nest is starting to look a little empty at Vince's. Over at Miller/Gold, Ari (Jeremy Piven) is uncharacteristically happy with Andrew's (Gary Cole) rainmaking since coming aboard, a state which is short-lived after Lloyd (Rex Lee) demands a promotion or he'll quit. Even worse, Ari happens to catch Andrew working a little too closely with a junior agent (Autumn Reeser), a discovery which could spoil his plans to make Andrew and Mrs. Andrew (Jami Gertz) vacation partners with himself and Mrs. Ari (Perrey Reeves). As usual for Vince and company, after placating one problem another one rears its ugly head.
What works: "Entourage" continues to be the gold standard for illustrating the interpersonal dynamics between guy friends. The endless taunts, obnoxious outbursts and historical reminders all feel decidedly natural and effortless as we genuinely believe these four guys have known each other since childhood. It's a facet that translates to the show itself: rather than a staccato of jokes and gags, "Entourage" feels more like checking up on a group of old buddies that never change. For instance, once word leaks that Eric is meeting up with Sloane as "just friends," the guys' ribbing exposes his true colors just as quickly as we as his audience friends do. This time out however, at least based on the first two episodes provided for review, the table is set for real change for the guys. Sure the show has flirted with shaking things up before (a fact that's side-splittingly lampooned in a video on Collegehumor.com), but this time out the potential changes come from an organic place and feel less likely to have the rug ripped out at the last minute. Yes, even the boys from "Entourage" have to grow up at some point.
What doesn't: The show inadvertently stumbles across a few anachronisms as the result of some real world developments since the episodes were produced: Vince does "Leno" (complete with cameo) and makes a note to save his more risque stories for lead-out "Conan"; while Ari sings Andrew's praises from bringing in current "My Name Is Earl" showrunner Greg Garcia. In the grand scheme of things it's no big deal but it did bump me at the time. Regardless...
The bottom line: ...you'd still be hard pressed to find a more fun half-hour of scripted television this summer.