'Entourage' was always a show I could tune in to and expect at least a few decent laughs and a couple of memorable moments. Yes, the show hit its stride a few years back, but even the eighth and final season had its enjoyable moments. It was a cathartic exercise more than anything, wrapping up the lingering love stories: E (Kevin Connolly) and Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), will they or won't they; who will Vince (Adrian Grenier) finally end up with; and will Ari (Jeremy Piven) ever make up with his wife? This season of 'Entourage' didn't really dive into any real dramatic territory. It seemed more like an eight-episode "See you later guys," arc. A big send-off to the group which decided to play it safe instead of dive into riskier waters.
Mild spoilers ahead.I liked the final year. I liked its upbeat nature and its drive to finish off stories that had been persistently sticking around from season to season. E and Sloan was the big question, but after the seventh year I found myself caring less and less about them. Like Ross and Rachel they hemmed and hawed until the final moments. I think we all saw that ending coming. It was obviously going to end that way since this season was an exercise in playing it safe.
There were a few problems however. I grew weary of Andrew Dice Clay in the seventh season. He more than outstayed his welcome. Far too much screen time was given to him and his antics. I know some people find his shtick funny, but I was hoping that storyline would've run its course last year instead of spilling over into this one. Although, it's always fun to see Drama (Kevin Dillon) sweating about his future and his reputation as an actor. Turtle's entire subplot about being part owner of the Tequila company was also dead tired last year. As it continued on into this final year I found myself wanting to fast-forward through any Turtle-centric storylines.
Vince overcame his drug addiction pretty fast. I liked the house party episode where Turtle and Drama went to great lengths to hide anything that remotely resembled drugs or alcohol. I thought one of the best storylines of the entire season was when Vince, in his new-found sobriety, wrote a script about trapped miners. Everyone thought it was crap, but they didn't want to tell Vince that so everyone went along with it. Besides that though Vince seemed to take a bit of a backseat in the final year. He became more of a spectator. He'd overcome his addiction and worked his way back to the top of Hollywood, becoming a more mature actor in the process (fake penises aside). He was overlooked so much so that his relationship with a magazine reporter played by Alice Eve felt completely contrived. Like the show was trying to put one last cheesy grin on Vince's face with an "Everything is right with the world" shot to end the series. And that's just what they did.
The series ended without much conflict. Ari and his wife made up. E and Sloan got back together. All was right with the world. Essentially they all rode off into the sunset 'Entourage'-style (which means hopping on a private jet and flying to a remote high-end location). While I would've liked a little edge to the final year, I still enjoyed seeing the crew have a chance to make everything right. Did it end too happily? Probably. Does that make it a bad season? Not really. It just makes it a very predictable season, but like I said, there were quite a few laughs along the way and that's really the reason I watch this show in the first place.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is an HBO release. There are eight half-hour episodes housed on two 50GB Blu-ray Discs. They come in a nice, thin cardboard foldout. There's a list of the episodes inside the front cover along with a list of the bonus features that are included. This release is region free.
'Entourage' has stayed consistent in its video presentation throughout each season that has found its way to Blu-ray. While it looks good most of the time, I'd have to concede that the 'Entourage' seasons probably are the most average-looking video that HBO has put out. The video has strengths and weaknesses, but if you have seen the other seasons on Blu-ray you know what to expect.
The biggest problem has been the visible noise in white backgrounds, that doesn't change here. Same with the overblown contrast where whites burn bright hot compared to everything else. Indoor scenes feature much better contrast though, and detail throughout the season is really nice. Shadows are another ho-hum aspect to the video presentation. Nighttime/darker scenes don't feature much delineation and instead we're faced with some pretty crushing shadows.
If you've seen season six or season seven on Blu-ray you know what to expect here. This isn't the usual flawless video transfer that we usually expect from HBO. Much of it is due to the way the show is filmed, but compared to other HBO releases these certainly comes in a distant second. Still, it's important to say that besides the occasional noise the rest of the transfer is clean from any glaring artifacts like banding or aliasing. If you've liked the past releases you'll be pleased with this one too.
Like past seasons the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 presentation makes it sound routine without ever having a "wow" moment. Dialogue is produced cleanly which is important for a show with many fast-talking characters. I didn't really notice one instance of terribly muffled dialogue.
The surrounds have always been a source of mild disappointment and here that trend continues. There's some noticeable ambiance, but in this front-centric show there is little room for surround sound opportunities. Directionality does a nice job of placing voices where they need to be while they're talking. There aren't a lot of chances for blow-your-socks-off audio, but LFE is nice and deep whenever a hip-hop song comes on the soundtrack.
It does what it's supposed to do, but there really isn't a point where you'll sit up and really notice the show's audio prowess.
Like many television shows that run this many seasons 'Entourage' had its ups and downs. It's good that the show was on a premium cable network making the seasons much shorter. Storylines arced faster and we didn't spend much time mired in story-telling limbo. Overall, the show was fun and most of the characters were extremely likable. It understood that first and foremost it was a comedy – even though dramatic moments filled up many of the season's cliffhangers. The eighth season was an appropriate, but perhaps too safe, send-off. It was fun following these guys around. I'm looking forward to the eventual 'Entourage' film.