Entourage The Complete Sixth Season scrolls past your eyes in similar fashion to the set's packaging; smart, gorgeous and a little underwhelming. Our crew of nattily attired, fine looking gents hover beguilingly above a black abyss, surrounded by handsomely understated rococo wallpaper. So goes season six, full of intelligent humor, profane scenarios, sincere camaraderie and virtual bling enough to make you want to hump a leather sofa. As television goes, Entourage is still so superior to your average serialized comedy/ drama (can't use the word dramedy, just can't) that even this just-average season is well worth your time.
We're by now well familiar with the rise of actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) from the mean streets of Queens, New York to stratospheric heights in Hollywood. He and his Queens buddies Turtle, (Jerry Ferrara) Eric (Kevin Connolly) and brother Johnny "Drama" Chase (Kevin Dillon) have actually all made great strides in L.A. Drama is doing a network series, Eric is an up-and-coming agent/ manager, and Turtle is dating Jamie Lynn Siegler. Indeed, Vinnie's coming off of a high profile critical and box-office success. It seems his on-again off-again career is finally hitting a stride. As Chase coasts on his success, so does the show itself: this is one of the least-hurried, most ambling seasons yet. With Grenier having nearly nothing to do, it's up to the other actors to keep the series afloat. Largely, they're successful. Continually supplied with mostly fantastic dialog, it's easy for the players to dig into the meat of their friendship - always one of the strongest aspects of the series.
Though Vinnie's life is mellow, Drama struggles with the meaning of his life as an actor, Eric can't decide between getting back with his old girlfriend Sloan or dating a freakish, childlike monkey robot, and Turtle wonders if he should commit to taking his life to the next level. It's not exactly an explosive season, except where Chase's agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) is concerned. Ever the volcanic vulgarian, Gold is in fine form whether berating his assistant Lloyd (Rex Lee, who is given a nice dramatic arc this season as well) or plotting to turn his agency into a global super power. This lineup may not provide the dramatic bang of past seasons, nonetheless, it's addictive enough for me to have blown through the entire set in two nights.
At times, Entourage is so insistently Hollywood Fabulous it's impossible not to get caught up in the dream. Vinnie's Grauman's Chinese Theater premier is a bubbly fantasia of macho fame that blinds you with flashbulbs, and Turtle's extravagant birthday presents will make auto enthusiasts drool, but as ever it's the connection between these men (and some of their girlfriends) that keeps the show's heart pumping. As the boys struggle with existential angst, they support and believe in each other in a way that's unique in a TV landscape populated with cheap wit. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the figure of Ari Gold. Piven gets more to work with than ever before, as he deals with the serious tribulations of his idiotic 80s-throwback of an agent, and especially as he tries to toughen up Lloyd. Piven excels at conveying near parental loyalty as cruelly abusive bombast, an incredibly difficult task for a character that could easily devolve into a grating caricature in a clumsier actor's hands. Piven also excels at delivering Doug Ellin and Ally Musika's dialog, articulately and almost always at a fever pitch. Others sometimes make incidental lines seem facile, too crisp and clever, and while these instances are rare, they're still distracting. Piven, however, never succumbs.
Human-scaled drama doesn't suppress the need to show hot cars, hotter naked ladies, pot smoking, plenty of drinking and conspicuous consumption, which season six provides in ample proportion. It's all part of that winning formula that makes Entourage one of the most addictive shows on TV. Once you pop one episode in your player, only your ability to stay awake will limit how far you'll go. Even in this somewhat subdued season, where sensitive story arcs (from all but Vincent Chase himself) are the order of the day, Entourage still provides joyful doses of pure entertainment.