Maybe what keeps Entourage so mystifyingly satisfying is the contact high delivered by its sumptuous depiction of luxe Los Angeles. Or maybe it's the easy chemistry of the featured quartet. No other show with so little to specifically recommend about it paradoxically commands such faithful viewing.
But if the first two episodes of the new season are any indication, the show's staying power isn't attributable to its satirical edge. A reflection of the real-life recession-rocked entertainment industry Entourage isn't.
Sure, Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) is throwing stones all over the glass castle that is his Miller Gold Agency, but no more or less than usual. The worst he has to deal with is renewed begging from his long-suffering assistant, Lloyd (Rex Lee), for a promotion. And his new hire, Andrew Klein (Gary Cole), is bringing in plenty of clients but creating other problems, too.
Whatever elevated mercury levels thwarted Piven's theater career last year on Speed the Plow show no lingering after-effects for the actor, who is as sharp as ever in the role he was born to play.
Chase certainly isn't feeling any stress either as he enjoys a comeback in the fictional Martin Scorsese film Gatsby. His biggest problem in the season premiere? Whether he should take his Aston Martin to the road test he has to take to get his driver's license.
Which isn't to say Chase has suddenly broken free from the state of co-dependent arrested development with his boys. Eric (Kevin Connolly) is so enmeshed in this bro-mance he finds it difficult to rekindle his romance with Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), though you would think he would just marry her to get away from the constant needling of Drama (Kevin Dillon) and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara).
It's more than a little bizarre to watch thirtysomething men being driven to panic at the prospect of their foursome being broken apart. But as much as this curious dynamic is begging for a homoerotic parody, it's truly the heart of the show.
Hope against hope that Entourage broadens its cast as the season continues. The show wastes way too much time letting its core players interact with a boring collection of supporting players like Chriqui and Lee. Cole, who can be brilliant in the right comedic role, is wasted here portraying a bland character.
Where are the scenery-chewers of seasons past like Dana Gordon (Constance Zimmer)? Entourage was always at its best when skewering industry mores, and her clashes with Gold brought that quality out better than anything else. For a show set in the shark-infested waters of Hollywood, Entourage needs to poke its dorsal fin through the surface more often, even if the ripples spoil all that shimmer.
Airdate: 10:30-11 p.m. Sunday, July 12 (HBO)
Production: Leverage, Closest to the Hole Prods.
Cast: Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara, Jeremy Piven
Executive producers: Doug Ellin (creator), Mark Wahlberg, Rob Weiss, Stephen Levinson, Denis Biggs, Ally Musika,
Co-executive producer: Mark Mylod
Producers: Wayne Carmona, Lori Jo Nemhauser
Director of photography: Rob Sweeney
– Nielsen Business Media