Nobody likes to be in a film that turns out to be a dud. But thats what happened to Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) as the fourth season of Entourage came to a close. The season was built around the production of the Pablo Escobar movie Medellin. Animosity between Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly), Vinces manager and best friend, and the director, Billy Walsh (Rhys Coiro), escalates and ultimately affects the film. When it premieres at Cannes to an audience of boos, the thought of a distribution deal is moot. Without any other options, they are forced to accept an offer from producer Harvey Weingard (Maury Chaykin). The fee: a single dollar.
For the season five premiere “Fantasy Island,” Vince and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) are in siesta mode on a beach in Mexico. Vinces burgeoning career as a Hollywood star is in a holding pattern: the Medellin bomb (which became a direct-to-DVD release) caused his status to plummet. Eric and agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) are trying to get producers and directors to give Vince a shot, but even in the shark-infested waters of Hollywood nibbles are hard to come by. Meanwhile, Vinces older brother, Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon), continues his TV gig with NBCs Five Towns while maintaining his virtual romance with Jacqueline, his girlfriend from Cannes.
Vinces comeback vehicle comes in the form of a cheap slasher flick called Danger Beach or so he thinks. When he returns to the States to take a meeting with producer Carl Ertz, it turns out that Vinces involvement was only as a bargaining chip to secure Emile Hirsch for the role. Not quite daunted, but not happy either, Vince is ready to get back to work. Thus begins the entourages twelve-episode journey around a “hot” project called Smoke Jumpers.
Mark Wahlberg is seen as the inspiration behind the Vincent Chase character. Show creator Doug Ellin thankfully omits the Calvin Klein modeling gig and Marky Mark-type career accolades from Chases resume. Also Chases success, like Wahlbergs, is sketchy at best. Hes thought to be an A-list celeb, but outside of his fictional features Head On and Aquaman (the second of which obliterated box office records), his filmography is lackluster.
Getting back to the show. As far as the story structure goes, by having a production account for the main arc for each season, Doug Ellin and his creative staff are able to make Vincent Chases life a living hell. Here the problems mount and for the entire season Vince is trying to find redemption in his struggling career. Not helping matters is his friction with the director of Smoke Jumpers, a European (Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd) making his first American film.
The rest of entourage has its own side stories as well. Eric Murphys managerial services arent only invested in Chase. In the fourth season there was a stint where he managed Anna Farris but the partnership became compromised due to his personal feeling towards Anna. For the fifth season, he represents the screenwriters behind Smoke Jumpers, Lawrence Bear and Nick Masser (played by Lukas Haas and Giovanni Ribisi). Another client is Charlie Williams, a stand-up comedian turned actor (played by R&B singer Shad Moss).
For Johnny Drama, the older, but less successful Chase brother, he had a career resurgence when he landed the “older Irish brother” role in Five Towns, a television property for NBC developed by Edward Burns. Other than having a meltdown on a live telecast of The View, the only other big event for him in season five is becoming the owner of a bar in Queens.
And then theres Turtle. Visible by his backwards ball caps and sports jerseys, he could be considered a parasite to his childhood friend Vince, but hes as loyal as mans best friend. It is revealed during one of the episodes this season that Turtle fronted the expenses when the entourage ventured to L.A. in search of fame and fortune. Hes other big success story this season is his relationship with a certain Sopranos starlet.
For a comedy that lacks the cerebral humor of a show like Frasier, Entourages concept is still a smart one, appealing to those who want to feel like a Hollywood insider. With a plethora of cameos (this season includes Eric Roberts as a psychedelic mushroom dealer!), the series is a Hallmark greeting card for the Cult of Personality. So if you arent hip to tabloids like TMZ or care about how much money a movie makes in its first weekend of release, this is not the show for you.
The episodes of Entourages fifth season are presented in a 16:9 aspect ratio. The picture is sharp with good detail throughout. There are times where natural light disrupts the clarity of a scene, but its a minor issue. Compression artifacts are kept to a minimum and a rich color palate is contained within each episode.
The musical tunes of the Entourage soundtrack are an eclectic bunch at that. Tony Bennett, James Brown, The Cure, and lesser-known artists are featured and the selections arent convenient because of the beat; they fit within the context of the episodes. English Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio and French and Spanish 2.0 Audio tracks come with each episode. Music is front and center, sounding great and not interfering with the spoken dialog. Clear, dynamic audio all the way.
Like the previous releases, extras are not maximized for our perusal. Each disc comes with Previous On segments for those who suffer from short-term memory loss. Or you want a quick refresher in case youre watching the discs months after the initial airings. Theres a ten-minute Celebrity Factor featurette in which the cast and crew breeze through, while opining away, the plethora of cameos including many that Ive already mentioned. Rounding out the extras are three commentary tracks (they accompany episodes five, eleven and twelve). Participants of the tracks include Doug Ellin, the entourage minus Drama, and writer-producer Ally Musika. Though the contributors are funny and informative, and sometimes quiet as they sit back and enjoy the episode, there are just not enough of them. Only twenty-five percent of the episodes come with commentary tracks. Surely theres enough to discuss in each episode.
Entourage doesnt always swing to the fences for laughs, but the humor is consistent. Five seasons in and the series continues to be clever with great writing and characters that are given space and situations in which to grow. If you enjoyed the show up until now, this DVD release is a surefire recommendation.
HBO Home Video presents Entourage: The Complete Fifth Season. Created by: Doug Ellin. Starring: Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara. Running time: 360 Minutes. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: June 30, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Entourage, HBO, Jeremy Piven