Inside Pulse DVD Review – Entourage: The Complete Second Season

DVD available at Amazon.com

Studio: HBO Home Video
Release Date: June 6, 2006
Number of Discs: 3
Number of Episodes: 14
Running Time: 420 Minutes
MSRP: $39.98

Creator:

Doug Ellin

Cast:

Adrian Grenier……….Vincent ‘Vince’ Chase
Kevin Connolly……….Eric ‘E’ Murphy
Kevin Dillon……….Johnny ‘Drama’ Chase
Jerry Ferrara……….Turtle
Jeremy Piven……….Ari Gold
Debi Mazar……….Shauna

The show:

In the span of two short years, HBO’s Entourage has gone from being a brash, no laugh track needed comedy, and has become a pop culture phenomena. “Let’s hug it out, bitch” is its calling card. TV Guide included the quote in its list of Top 20 Catchphrases. The slogan is in select company, wedged in between Star Trek‘s “Live long and prosper” and The Price is Right‘s “Come on down!” at number 6. Not bad a ranking for a comedy that is vulgar and funny as hell.

Prior to my DVD review of the first season back in June of ’05, I had never seen the show. Instead of shilling out money to order HBO, I’d rather wait until the episodes come out on DVD. And that’s what I did. Eight episodes later, I was hooked.

For the first season I had written that the show was something completely different: A satirical look at Hollywood from the perspective of an actor. Rather than focus on the production of a movie, this faux reality comedy allows us to see how Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) spends his days when he isn’t performing.

As the second season opens, Vince, Eric, his older brother Johnny “Drama” Chase, and Turtle make their arrival to L.A. Over the summer Vince and his posse leased a private jet, just a mere $30,000, and flew it to New York to shoot Queens Boulevard with pretentious director Billy Walsh.

Waiting for the next big payday, the friends live the high life with multi-million dollar homes, 70-inch plasma TVs, swimming pools and movie stars.

Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) is the more rotund one of the group. As a friend of Vince’s, this hanger-on is the errand boy. Turtle makes all the important purchases – with Vince’s moola of course. Food, alcohol, and the home entertainment. His biggest contribution is as the driver, chauffeuring everybody in a monstrous yellow Hummer.

Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon) is Vince’s half-brother, a former TV star whose career took a wrong turn and is now miles away from the spotlight. Each year he makes the trek to the annual San Diego Comic-Con to embrace those who still remember his cult TV hit Viking Quest. On the way to becoming a cult idol, Drama learned how to cook like a professional. He’s not really in charge of preparing meals; he just likes to share his gift with the gang. When he isn’t cooking, Drama is protective of his little brother, while enjoying the ride on his coattails.

The most responsible one in the entourage is Eric (Kevin Connelly). He is the take-charge manager and Vince’s best friend since the age of six. Eric’s job is to act as his friend’s conscious. He knows a good script when he reads one, and was instrumental for Vince’s staring role in the independently financed Queens Boulevard. Not bad for a guy who once was the night manager for a Sbarro’s in New York.

Eric’s biggest headache is Ari Gold, Vince’s brazen albeit glib talent agent. Played masterfully well by Jeremy Piven, Ari makes his presence known in each episode even though he isn’t part of his client’s clique. He has many of the biggest jokes on the comedy; many of verbal laceration variety. Some poke fun at thespians in the movie industry but most are geared strictly towards Eric. The manager and agent butt heads on a number of issues. Profanity-laced tirades ensue but no fists are exchanged.

The second season grows up a little. It’s not really a satirical look at Hollywood as I had originally thought. Emphasis is placed on the relationship of these four friends from Queens. Vince and Eric may be the best of buds but they have differences when it comes to women. The movie star is rumored to have slept with half the starlets in Hollywood. Eric prefers close-knit, committed romances. But as the season progress one of Vince’s former on-set romances is rekindled and we see the movie star in a new light.

The big storyline in this season is Vince’s chance at nabbing the starring role in Aquaman, the latest DC Comics superhero to be brought to the big screen by Warner Bros. The idea behind this story came from actor Mark Wahlberg. As one of the executive producers of Entourage, it is his experiences that Vince and Co. are emulating. In the pilot episode, Wahlberg made a small cameo. Thereafter, the show and guest stars became synonymous.

Throughout the second season you’ll find a who’s-who list of luminaries. Each who is more than willing to poke fun at the industry. Be on the lookout for Amanda Peet, Gary Busey, Jamie Pressly, “The Karate Kid” Ralph Macchio, Pauly Shore, Danny Masterson, Hugh Hefner, Bob Sagat, Anthony Anderson, Bai Ling, Peter Dinklage, Dale Dye (military advisor for Platoon and Saving Private Ryan), Richard Schiff, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Vanessa Angel, Brooke Shields, Timothy Busfield, and the late Chris Penn.

And this is just a list of cameos. Mandy Moore plays herself and has a large part in the second season. James Cameron is the director of Aquaman. He pops up every so often as well. And get this, the man is funny. Malcolm McDowell is Ari’s boss at the agency, Terrance Mackewich. Debi Mazar frequently appears as Vince’s publicist Shana. Great character actor Maury Chaykin has a scene-stealing part in “The Sundance Kids” episode. His caricature of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein is a thing of beauty. I never knew a grown man could have a conniption fit that big.

Entourage is an interesting concept, almost like a mockumentary to an extent. The show is not smug or pretentious, but the characters sure as hell can be. And what a fine job at casting. The actors in this group have been around Hollywood for years, some decades. Novice viewers of the series will no doubt have one of those moments where they try to remember where they have seen so-and-so.

Only 14 episodes in all, which is eight less than network standards, creator Doug Ellin and his crew make up for the discrepancy by having a great ensemble and excellent writing to go with it.

Score: 9/10

The DVD:

THE VIDEO
(Presented in 1.33:1 fullscreen)

All 14 episodes have a nice transfer. The images are clean, with only a trace amount of grain and artifact issues during exterior shots. Having never seen the episodes on HBO, I’m not sure if the quality is much improved on DVD. I’m leaning towards no. The biggest complaint is that the show is in fullscreen. Just like season one. Why creator Doug Gallin and crew haven’t been shooting in HD (High-Def) or widescreen is beyond me.

Score: 8/10

THE AUDIO
(Dolby Digital 2.0 – English, French and Spanish)

This DVD set has the same 2.0 audio tracks as the first season did. It’s a shame HBO didn’t broadcast the show in 5.1 audio. If it did originally, Entourage: The Complete Second Season should have had that English track at least. Still, 2.0 quality is okay at presenting Ari’s profanity, as well as the complement the scene where Johnny Drama goes postal on a passenger vehicle with a golf club. The musical stylings of Beck, The Bee Gees, The Doors, The Rolling Stones and many others are quintessential background music for this series.

Score: 8/10

SPECIAL FEATURES: The Mark Wahlberg Sessions?

Not a feature-laden set, but there is an interesting extra on disc entitled The Mark Wahlberg Sessions. It is a 22-minute compilation of interviews where Wahlberg discusses the show with actors Grenier, Connolly, Ferrara, Dillon, Piven and others members of the cast and crew. Considering that Wahlberg is the series’ inspiration, the feature gives you a little bit of the “truth” behind the entourage.

The only other extras are a recap of the first season, 13 “previously on Entourageteases, and individual previews for all episodes.

Score: 5/10

InsidePulse’s Ratings for Entourage
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE SHOW

9
THE VIDEO

8
THE AUDIO

8
THE EXTRAS

5
REPLAY VALUE

8
OVERALL
8.5
(NOT AN AVERAGE)