During this eighth and final season of the always entertaining, often uneven Entourage, hatin’ on the series has become a bit of a cultural pastime. The critics lament the show’s flatness, opining that the fair-to-middlin’ performances are far less palatable since Entourage doesn’t satirize the industry as much as it used to. And the fans go cuckoo over the show’s “softer” side, primarily as seen through the eyes of E (Kevin Connolly) and his longtime on-again, off-again lady, Sloan (fanboy heartthrob Emmanuelle Chriqui). As the series heads toward its final episode Sunday night, Creator Doug Ellin and the boys just can’t win.
There’s no doubt the show has lost some of its swagger. Okay, even I cringe at HBO’s tease, “Can E let go of Sloan?” But for all the hammer ‘em acting, the show still has some winking subtlety, the kind that appear to get overlooked by both groups of unhappy viewers. The infusion of celebrity chefs (loverboy Bobby Flay and a wide-shot walk-on by Scott Conant) giggles at the ever-growing idea of chef-as-entertaiment, considering the far superior cavalcade of stars that has graced this series before. And when the infamous Steadicam shots that have always followed the show’s foursome down ritzy LA streets expanded to a silly-looking group of seven — including Andrew Dice Clay in a sleeveless jacket — the show grabbed a guffaw at its own expense, stretching the cast and the visual to keep things lively, a la every other sitcom you’ve ever seen.
Even overlooking and/or arguing those points, Entourage has always been able to deliver a few solid laughs in its 22-26 weekly minutes, always steeped in the enviable higher-echelon Hollywood world that made the show so much fun to watch all by itself. We’ve enjoyed just about every episode — yeah, even the bad ones. There was always a well-timed Johnny Drama one-liner (good job, Dillon), Ari rant (thanks to Jeremy Piven, the show’s enthusiastic anchor for eight years, and its sharpest actor) or some twisted appearance by Gary Busey, Martin Landau or Mike Tyson to keep things happy.
We’re probably not going to watch any reruns (we don’t now) and, yes, Jerry Ferrara, a mere child when the series began, remains a subpar actor (c’mon, next to Piven?!). But Entourage was great, voyeuristic, guy-talking, let’s-hug-it-out-fun for 95 episodes. And the cast looked like they had a good time doing it, which can often go a long way. Say sayonara on Sunday as you will, but you won’t find any hatin’ here.