Entourage is coming back for its final season on Sunday, and I'm sad to say I'm looking forward to it. The show had its heyday a good 5 years ago, and is now considered lame.
But Entourage has had a bit of a rebirth in my house, because reruns of it are on Channel 5 every night at midnight. Thus, I've probably watched the entire series end to end about 4 times in the last couple months.
Incidentally, that proves the notion that shows really do need 100 episodes before hitting syndication. Entourage has 88, and it's a matter of weeks before you've seen every episode twice and are sick of it. "Friends" and "90210" on the other hand, are enjoyable marathons through a decade of clothes and hairstyles and aging. The gang graduates from California University just as Andrea Zuckerman is hitting menopause.
It's weird to think that Entourage came out just a year after "The OC", which has been long gone for awhile now. They both used the word "bitch" to grab the public's imagination, but HBO's smaller seasons allowed E and Company to stick around past its prime.
The show has many faults. Adrian Grenier for one. And though some people love Kevin Dillon's performance as Johnny Drama, I can never decide if he's the worst actor in the world or just the worst actor in the Chase family.
I hated when Vince was broke, and I hated it even more last season when he suddenly became a daredevil drug addict, brought about by the dumbest, tamest looking stunt in the history of film.
The show is not supposed to be about struggle. That's kind of the opposite of the entire point.
It will never be remembered as one of the great shows, but I think it's underrated, and I'll tell you why:
It is very difficult to do a show about Hollywood. First of all, it's inherently uncool. Secondly, you'll never get it right. And third, it's been done and who cares.
Probably the best show about "the business" was a show on Fox called "Action", starring Jay Mohr of all people. They absolutely nailed it. So it was promptly canceled after 13 episodes.
People didn't want to see that stuff.
Looking back on it now, it was really funny, but really depressing. And it wasn't fun. Entourage, for all of its issues, is fun. And its biggest weakness is also its greatest strength: it doesn't try too hard.
That's what I love about it. It doesn't really try. It could easily have a lot more jokes. But it doesn't go for them. It could have a lot more drama, but it doesn't go for that either (although when it does, it's awful: see Vince's drug addiction).
The result of all of this not trying is one of the fastest half hours on television. The great thing about Entourage is even when it's not good, it's over quickly. And it's no harm done.
On the other hand, an episode of Wilfred can be the longest 30 minutes of your life.
So I started thinking that Entourage is the kind of show I want to write. Not a show about Hollywood, but a half hour that doesn't need 3 jokes a page. Just some characters you care about, an interesting story in a fun world, a little escapism, some humor, some drama, but no Johnny Drama. I would like more shows like that on TV, because I'm tired of half hours that are just a bunch of jokes being forced down my throat.
Unfortunately, TV is heading in the opposite direction. When I go around and meet with the networks or pitch them things, most of them are looking for "stand alone" half hours. They want shows that that have no continuous story line, like "It's Always Sunny" or "Louie".
That's not what I like. I like Sam and Diane on Cheers, Ross and Rachel on Friends, or Vince and E trying to get Medellin made. There's a thread there. You want to watch the next episode to see what happens to the characters, not the next set of jokes. In fact, if you go back and watch Entourage they usually end an episode with a tiny twist, an "oh shit" moment that is a mini cliffhanger that makes you curious to see where things are heading.
I could give a shit about all of the one liners the "It's Always Sunny" crew is going to make about retards in their one retard episode. I've done enough retard jokes in my day, I don't need to hear anymore. It's boring.
So I wrote a show like that. But when I pitch it, I don't mention that it aspires to Entourage. Why? Because that would be embarrassing.