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Review: Entourage Series Finale – “The End”

17 Sep

For the smallest sliver of a second, I thought everything would not work out in the world of Entourage.  Then I thought to myself for a second and laughed.  All would not be right in the world if Entourage didn’t end like it did, and more than that Entourage wouldn’t be being true to itself if it ended any differently.  That’s not necessary a good thing or a bad thing; it’s probably a little both.  It’s just a true thing.

What I hadn’t realized coming into the episode, though I suppose it seemed obvious as the episode went forward, was that Turtle’s and Drama’s plots had wrapped up in earlier episodes.  Perhaps this is because both arcs ended so suddenly; Turtle’s with the reveal that Vince hadn’t sold his or Turtle’s Avion stock, making them both more millions and Drama’s with the abrupt end of his and Andrew Dice Clay’s strike and then Vince offering to pay Phil Yagoda’s charity a cool hundred thousand to cast Johnny.  There was no cool down after the climaxes to both of these plots; Turtle’s dream of bringing Don Pepe’s to LA was never resolved one way or the other or mentioned again, and Drama just sort of will be off making his TV movie eventually, and his show may or may not be a hit.

So the finale is mostly about Eric, Vince and Ari.  Actually it’s not really about Vince either.  Vince got shorted a plot for much of the season after his drug scare was over.  Often one or two cast members draw the short straw plot-wise in an Entourage season, and this season may have been more dramatic than others.  The season as a whole was not particularly well-plotted, and I’m not sure if that’s due to the fact that there were less episodes than usual.  Vince’s second plot started as the season was winding down and involved him interviewing with a beautiful journalist and then trying to win her over, against her better instincts to date him.  In an episode or two, after some fairly simple persuasion she agrees; obviously her policy against dating actors and or subjects is not as rigid as she initially led Vince to believe.  More than that, we find out in the next episode that out of nowhere, Vince had the BEST DATE OF ALL TIME and is getting married to a woman who didn’t even want to take him two days before.  I don’t expect Entourage to be realistic, just consistent, and this stretches the boundaries even for me a little bit.

Eric and Sloan, I realized while watching, is by far the longest plot in the Entourage universe, extending throughout several seasons.  The smart move would have been to either end this last year, with what seemed like a nice final wedding end, or just push off last year’s plot to this year.  Instead, Entourage reached into the well one too many times and had fans groaning about the E and Sloan drama not being over yet.  Even though any Entourage fan knew to expect that they’d get together again, it still felt way too forced in the finale, as Sloan went from despising him and the idea that he may have slept with her ex-mother-and-law to getting back with him again.  Now that I think about it, Turtle and Drama convinced the journalist to date Vince, and Sloan to see Eric again; they must be extremely persuasive speakers.

Of course, Ari and his wife have had their issues before, but until this season that was just chatter and not serious.  At least this plotline was thoroughly worked through the season – it was definitely the plot that got the most attention and at least felt fairly complete.  It also felt a bit forced how they agreed to get back together once Ari quit, but not nearly as rushed as Eric and Sloan or Vince and I don’t even remember her name because she was in only three or four episodes.

Just in case we thought things were wrapped up in too neat of a little package, after the credits Ari, now jobless and on vacation with his wife, is offered the job as the head of the studio, or whatever is higher than that, something more prestigious than he’s ever been offered before.  Do I smell movie?

The plots weren’t particularly strong.  Everything felt rushed.  I don’t think I’d necessarily want or expect everything not to work out; that’s what Entourage is, ultimately.  I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for the plots to be well developed before they end well though.  It’s by no means Lost-level failure, nor could it be within the parameters of what Entourage is and if I don’t think about it too much I’m happy to live in a world where everyone’s happy, but it’s weaker than it needed to be with just a tiny bit more work.

Fall 2011 Review: The Secret Circle

17 Sep

There will be some shows this fall season for which I won’t at all know what to expect; The Secret Circle is the exact opposite.  I came in with a very specific set of expectations and the show met them exactly.  The Secret Circle is based on a series of books by LJ Smith, who also wrote the Vampire Diaries series of books, and who moonlights as an NFL tight end.

The pilot episode begins with a teenage girl getting into a mysterious car accident while her mom is killed at her house by someone using what looks to be witch-like powers to set the house on fire.  Cassie, the teenage girl and our protagonist, moves to her grandmother’s house in the town where her mom grew up.  Things get weird right away as her room starts acting strange and the roof looks like stars.  At her first day of school, we meet our cast of kids, all of whom seem to be awaiting Cassie’s arrival eagerly.  We’ve got Diana, the leader, Faye, the trouble maker, Melissa, Faye’s sidekick who seems to only be allowed to speak after Faye, Adam, Diana’s broody boyfriend, and Nick who attempts to look through the window at Cassie undressing and says just about no other words in the first episode except for introducing himself.  There’s our team, ladies and gentlemen.

They’re particularly excited because they know, but Cassie doesn’t, that they’re all witches and six is some sort of magic number for witches, so when Cassie joins their circle, they’ll all get crazy more powerful.  Over the course of the first day, Cassie also meets the second round of characters, the parents, including Faye’s mom, Dawn who is the principal at the local high school, Adam’s dad, Ethan, whose a bit of a melancholic drunkard, and Diana’s father Charles, who if we really look at him and think for a second, turns out to be the man who we saw at the beginning of the episode who was responsible for killing Cassie’s mom!

Cassie meets everyone, and they finally confront her and tell her that she’s a witch and they need to join the circle; they’re all scions of powerful witch families who have been witching it up for generations.  She does the requisite denials (this is crazy! you’re all insane!) , while they try to convince her by telling her all about their family history and how earlier in the episode one of them set fire to her car with magic and with demonstrations of their power.  Adam shows her what she can do with a flying water droplet spell and almost kisses her.  (sidenote: I’ve often wondered exactly how many times I would deny it if someone told me that there were witches, or vampires, or whatever – it’s so frustrating watching characters in denial when we know it’s real, but the first episode would probably just me denying it for an hour).

Anyway, she kind of accepts it by the end, after she uses her power to stop a violent rain storm started by Faye, and we also see some of the evil machinations of the father Charles and the mother Dawn who are clearly covering up some series of events that led to Cassie’s father’s death a generation ago and are planning something likely equally villainous.

That was a little bit of a long description, but I have to say the show was not bad by any means.  The dialogue was clichéd and the characters were certainly archetypes.  This show isn’t breaking any molds by any stretch of the imagination.  The writing is certainly far from standout.  But for what it’s trying to be, it does well.  By the end I was genuinely interested in knowing what the cover up might be that the parents were hiding for all these years.  That might be one of the advantages about basing a show on a successful book series; you already have a blueprint that you know works.  There’ll be plenty of teenage angst undoubtedly and growing up and likely love triangle between Adam and Diana and Cassie, and they’ll look and sound like other shows but if the pilot is a basis, then in a very respectable way.  Also, I’d like to issue a quick shout out for the nice use of The Joy Formidable.

Will I watch the next episode?  Probably not, admittedly. It doesn’t quite stand out enough in any one facet.  But I’m kind of thinking about it, and just that fact means the show is not a total failure.