Following fleeting appearances on ITV2, Entourage has a new statelier home in the form of Sky Atlantic. Often touted as the male Sex in the City (only funnier and less repugnant) the show has enjoyed something of an off-mainstream fan base in this country through DVD and online viewing. Based on the experiences of Mark Wahlberg (executive producer), the comedy centres around New York native Vincent Chase as he tries to make a name for himself in Hollywood. Together with the help of his close friends – Eric Murphy, Turtle and half-brother Johnny âDramaâ Chase (Kevin Dillon) – and super-agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), he sets about building a film career and cultivating a life of lavish excess for himself and his entourage (get it?) As the tagline goes, âHis fame is their fortune.â?
While tonight’s offering may not be the finest that Piven and his mates have knocked out, it is brilliant to see the back-catalogue (we are currently on series seven) in the hands of a channel that will actually use them rather than letting them gather dust. Vince himself is a cool, calm and collected womaniser who does his best to stay grounded after his impoverished upbringing in Queens. Initially it seems that his friends scrounge off their âgolden-ticketâ, but they all play integral parts in Vinceâs life especially when he is overly-exposed to the fickle nature of their surroundings.
After a couple of years of hilarious development, the one-time sidekicks have come into their own; âEâ is now working with well-known talent manager Murray Berenson at Murray Berenson Co (one of Hollywoodâs most powerful management companies). Drama is set to have a series created for him after being offered an exclusive holding deal, while Turtle has finally set-up his much talked about luxury limo service.
Tonightâs helping (the third of the season) sees Drama being convinced that his television future may lie in sitcoms, as Turtleâs business troubles may soon be alleviated following a proposal from an unlikely ally. Elsewhere Ari is at war with his wife and employee Lizzie Grant as he finds himself stretched between his personal and work-life, and is waiting to hear if he will be given the green light to bring an NFL team to Los Angeles.
Easy to watch and funny, it’s not difficult to see how Entourage accrued such a committed following on these shores even before it was picked up by the entertainment juggernaut that is Sky Atlantic â what you see is very much what you get. Itâs not tremendously thought provoking or ground-breaking but it will keep you entertained with its celebrity guest-spots, luxurious gadgets and gizmos, expertly crafted put-downs (see Ari Gold) and absurdly beautiful women. Standards may have slipped slightly of late (..with this season limited to 10 episodes with a shortened eight season scheduled for the summer, you get the feeling the writers could be feeling the strain) but the show still retains much of its considerable wit. Newcomers should definitely refer themselves to the opening runs for the finest material though.
Cynics might dismiss Entourage as benign, with slow character development and a heavy reliance upon expensive (and often buxom) distractions, but such critics are probably taking this comedy far too seriously; just sit-back and enjoy a show which is essentially a group of close friends making the most of a once in a lifetime opportunity. Oh and the soundtrack is incredible. Here’s hoping that Sky Atlantic delve into the extensive back-catalogue – previously lost on ITV2 a channel whose primetime slots tonight are reserved for Katie Price and Konnie Huq’s rapping – sooner rather than later..