Damn. Busy night of TV. It's the summertime, and yet there are five different shows I ostensibly follow, including one that's airing two episodes a week until Fox gets it the hell off its airwaves. Brief spoilers for, in order, "Entourage," "Flight of the Conchords," "Meadowlands" and "The Loop" coming up just as soon as I get fitted for prosthetic nose and mustache...
God love Doug Ellin and those magnificent bastards at "Entourage." Not only did they finally give us a glimpse of Vincent Chase, working actor, but they threw in a Martin Landau-as-Bob Ryan shout-out! (For your poor people who missed it, Vince reveals that E has been reading Bob's autobiography -- titled, of course, "Is That Something You Might Be Interested In?" -- on the set of "Medelin.") That joke alone is going to buy this show, oh, at least two or three weeks of goodwill from me.
I wish they had stuck with the mockumentary format for the entire episode, as most of the best jokes (like Nicky Rubenstein trying to explain why he was bringing cocaine to Colombia) came out of that framework, while the bits that broke it (like the guys discussing the rules about who could and couldn't have sex with Sofia Vergara) could have easily been cut.
As for our first extended look at Vince acting, I thought they took the right approach, giving us just enough of a taste -- and in the middle of a movie that's supposed to be a mess -- that it doesn't matter how silly he looks in the Pablo Escobar make-up. All in all, not a bad start to season four, though I wish Ari could have been involved more somehow (maybe as part of the machinations to get Gaghan).
I have to say that I may already feel more affection for new lead-out show "Flight of the Conchords," but that's largely because I have a strange sense of humor. A character whose hobby is building a bicycle helmet that resembles his hairdo? A robot-themed music video featuring a "binary solo" where the guys sing nothing but 0's and 1's? Lyrics like "You're so beautiful, you could be an air hostess in the 60s" and "You could be a part-time model, but you'd still have to keep your regular job"? New Zealand's raging inferiority complex compared to Australia? That's my kinda show, even if I felt like the musical numbers upstaged the regular scenes in the premiere. (In other episodes, the reverse is true; of the four I've seen, none of them manages to get the balance just right.) "Tenacious D" aired during a period in my life when I didn't have HBO, so I can't do the obvious compare/contrast, but I'm definitely amused by the newbies.
My weirdness tolerance is different when it comes to dramas. When you're being weird for the sake of laughs, I'm happy, but weirdness for the sake of dramatic tension -- or, worse, weirdness for its own sake -- gets old with me in a hurry. So I'm not sure I'll make it to the end of the first season of "Meadowlands," with its elaborately-choreographed neighborhood dance numbers, its high-functioning autistic teenage fetishists, its deliberatey opaque flashbacks, psychotic cops, etc. But it's an interesting start; I'll give it a few weeks to see whether there's an actual show here or just a collection of randomness and homages to "The Prisoner" and David Lynch.
Two more episodes of "The Loop" to confirm my belief that this was a mercy cancellation. Still some funny stuff -- most of it involving Joy Osmanski, both with and without a Bedazzler -- but I watched both episodes blaming my lack of laughter on fatigue, and then I put on the "Robot Chicken" ode to "Star Wars" and laughed practically from start to finish. (It's an apples and oranges comparison, I know; I make it just to note that I was capable of laughter tonight, and "The Loop" really helped me achieve it.) Plus, I have no idea why they didn't just dump Sam's brother while they were canning the two roommates.
What did everybody else think?