Mirror TV Critic
There is a formula taking its cue from The Larry Sanders Show, which blends fake characters with real life characters who make fun of their fake personalities on the show. It was used often in Seinfeld and Sex and the City and now, of course, in HBO’s hit series, Entourage. But will the familiar formula become boring?
The season premiere of Entourage had a bit, a very funny bit, involving James Woods and a pair of tickets to the premiere of the fake movie Aqua Man, which stars the fake star Vincent Chase (Adrien Grenier) but is directed by the very real James Cameron.
Last season dealt with the ongoing drama of Aqua Man – whether Vince would get cast (he did), whether his off-screen romance with the fake Mandy Moore would derail Vince’s career and the film. All hopes were pinned on Vince to make good with Aqua Man or else risk the lifestyle to which his friends have become accustomed and the power position of super-agent Ari Gold (the hilarious Jeremy Piven). Poor Vince can’t drop the ball; too many are depending on him.
James Woods, or as he’s referred to by Ari, “Jimmy Woods,” has a reputation in Hollywood for being a hothead and is known for his infamous rages, whether they are true or not. Bottom line: you don’t want to upset Jimmy Woods, which is exactly what Drama (Kevin Dillon) and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) do when they decide to Bogart Jimmy Woods’ Aqua Man tickets.
Now, it’s funny that they’re poking fun at Woods (they even have him with a busty, dippy starlet on his arm, something he’s also known for), but it is an all-too-familiar scenario. In fact, it was more like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm than the Entourage we’ve come to know and love over the past year. In Larry David’s Enthusiasm famous people are always being lampooned and inevitably, Larry does something untoward to one of them and always gets himself into big, big trouble.
On Entourage, Turtle and Drama are always doing stupid things but rarely are they front and center with any of the big names. What makes them funny is that they are on the fringe. Here’s to hoping they don’t ruin that dynamic by making Drama and Turtle as well known as Vince.
Aside from that possible harbinger of things to come, Entourage roared back with a vengeance Sunday night, proving that it is as topical and funny as ever. Aqua Man is set to open and Ari is getting nervous. Will it be one of Cameron’s biggest hits or biggest flops? Will Ari stay on top of the sleazy game of being a Hollywood agent? Will Vince become the huge star everyone hopes he will? Will Eric (Kevin Connolly) find true love and keep his integrity?
Everybody wins in industry satire – people like James Woods who may or may not have completely dropped off the map get to come back and play to the 18-24 disposable income crowd. The combination of industry skewering and buddy bonding is what makes Entourage so watchable. But it could take a turn for the worse if it continues to rely on the semi-tired tricks of Curb Your Enthusiasm. The joke can’t always be on Drama and Turtle. The more obscure they remain, the better.