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Entourage: The Complete Sixth Season
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.
Season Six comes in an Entourage-standard 16 x 9 widescreen ratio, and looks identical to other seasons. This is in fact one of my only complaints about this series on DVD, as the series is shot with a decent amount of stylistic grain, sometimes to a distracting degree. The image is sharp and detailed enough, but, I guess by design isn't as crisp and clean looking as some. Also, lots of almost harsh, dramatic backlighting reveals not-very robust black levels. In all the picture is fine, with no compression artifacts, and only the above two quibbles to make you pause.
English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio tracks, plus Spanish 2.0 Audio are up to the task. With only Stereo 'Surround Sound' from my system, the mix appears dynamic and naturally lively, with a healthy range. All-important soundtrack songs are mixed loud and clear, though not out of proportion with the dialog, which has no defects. Now why can't they make sure the menu music isn't so damn loud?
Though Entourage: The Complete Sixth Season comes larded with a great set of utilitarian extras, the more beefy ones we come to expect still aren't here. Three Commentary Tracks with writer/ producers Ellin and Musika, all the principal actors, and guest star Bob Saget are as interesting and off-the-cuff as ever, but there's only three of them. A 15-minute BTS EPK, "Life At The Top", looks at the making of season six with the usual mix of interviews and on-set footage. It's both revealing and thoughtful, while also a little rote in nature, but fun anyway. A three-minute look at their racing episode, "A Day At The Speedway" is a bit of a throwaway, but Matt Damon's hilarious four-minute ONEXONE PSA is not to be missed. We also get the usual Closed Captioning, English, French and Spanish Subtitles, an HBO Promo and other thoughtful goodies. For those who often watch series on DVD, the inclusion Season and Episode Recaps, Previews and Text Summaries of each episode is a nice bit of assistance.
Though light on much of the larger-than-life, rollercoaster drama and frantic pacing of earlier seasons, Entourage: The Complete Sixth Season, a more relaxed season altogether, is still far more entertaining and positive than most sit-com or drama dreck on network TV. With plenty of sharp, profane writing, Entourage still delivers, while allowing leading man Vincent Chase's friends room to breathe and grow. Piven is more awesome than ever, and almost every other character adds depth to their lives. Season Six, in many ways a middling effort, is still definitely Recommended, even if you watch every episode in a single 24-hour period.