I'm a bad liar, which always puts me in an awkward position when I'm out in Hollywood, a town built on lies and half-truths. Because I've been doing this a while now, when I'm at press tour, showrunners who know me will sometimes ask me what I think of their new show. If I didn't like it, the options are three, involving varying degrees of "Awk-WARD!" 1)Lie and say I liked it, then excuse myself quickly; 2)Lie and say I haven't seen it yet, then excuse myself quickly; or 3)Say I didn't like it, followed by "It's been nice knowing you."
But every now and then, I'm dumb enough to volunteer my opinion without being asked. A few weeks into the first season of "Entourage," HBO had a press tour session for the show, and afterwards I found myself having a long conversation with the creator, Doug Ellin, prompted by me saying, inelegantly, "I like a lot about your show, but the main characters are kind of assholes, you know?" Ellin, to his credit, didn't get pissy about it, but stood there and politely but firmly debated me on the matter, and by the end, I had agreed to look at the guys again with an open mind.
I'm still not sure Ellin was right back in the first season, especially about Vince and Turtle, but during season two and especially now, the show has really nailed that "Diner"/"Swingers" theme of guys who bust on each other but genuinely like and care about each other. Yes, Turtle's a moocher with no ambition but to swim in Vince's wake, but when Eric comes up with his plan to fly all their mothers out for the premiere just so Vince's mom will come, Turtle agrees to the plan, with only brief griping, even though it'll cost him his best shot at scoring in a long time. That's friendship right there.
I'm not saying the show is better only because the guys seem (to me) a little nicer to each other, but it helped. So did putting more of the focus on Ari ("Mouth like a Dyson vacuum!") and Drama ("Top-tall... torso's too long, legs are too short. She's inverted!").
I had thought, by the way, of not using that picture up top, since it gives away the outcome of the mom story, but then I remembered that, with the exception of Mandy Moore, Vince has gotten everything he's wanted for the entire run of the series. Another happy ending isn't exactly a spoiler, is it? Now, the fact that his every wish is fulfilled through very little effort or talent on his own part doesn't make me dislike Vince, but it does mean I don't really care about him. To me, he's a plot device, the reason why Drama and Turtle and Ari and (to a lesser extent) Eric get to have whatever adventures they have.
But that's all a lot of rambling about the show in general and little specifically about this episode. So some premiere observations:
- Good to see Jimmy Woods sporting an excellent Clairol dye job. The casting of his top-heavy (as opposed to top-tall) girlfriend was one of those have your cake and eat it too kinda things; the show gets to make fun of Woods for toting around a bimbo who has to keep shoving her implants into her itty-bitty top, while at the same time showing said implants falling in and out of her top. (Update: It's been pointed out to me that she is Woods' real-life girlfriend, which actually makes it funnier.) And did I miss it, or was there no resolution to the stolen premiere tickets plot? Obviously, the tickets got used to get Turtle and Eric's moms into the premiere, but where was Woods realizing he got ripped off? The on-camera headlock on Drama didn't seem enough. Still, some fine scenery-chewing from the future star of "Shark."
- Nice casting on the moms, especially Mercedes Ruehl as Mrs. Chase. (Would've liked to see more of Patti D'Arbanville as E's mom.) She really looks like she could be Adrian Grenier's mother. On the other hand, am I misremembering, or didn't Johnny and Vince share a dad, not a mom? Or is Chase just Drama's stage name that Vince adopted when he came out to LA?
- More Ari also means more Lloyd, who's funny because he has to take all of Ari's abuse, and more Mrs. Ari, who's funny because she doesn't. Samaire Armstrong-to-Lloyd was a definite upgrade.
- Seemed to be more classic rock than usual on the soundtrack, especially near the end, with a Joe Cocker/Doobie Brothers/Elton John trifecta.
- Nice throwaway bit where the guys turn lemons (the broken elevator at Ari's new WeHo offices) into lemonade (a race up the stairs). For all the bling and babes available to them, sometimes it's just about the simple pleasures.
But I think the first time I laughed out loud was when Louie said "We can't afford it!" to his wife's ass. And I laughed again when he threw her into the closet to have sex at the end. That was two solid laughs for me in a half-hour, which is better than a lot of crap out there but not good enough, especially for HBO.
What did everybody else think? Also, feel free to discuss the season premiere of "The 4400," about which I have little to say, save that I admire the producers for embracing their audience and introducing a hot new character (or, rather, aging a previously-infantile character into a hot babe) who prefers to walk around naked. Oh, and that I'm surprised and a little impressed that they didn't reverse the other half of the aging twist.