Sunday, November 16, 2008

Entourage, "Play'n with Fire": Meadow lands Turtle

Brief spoilers for tonight's "Entourage" coming up just as soon as I start my own limo business...

When I initially watched this episode on a review screener, I was under the mistaken assumption that it was the season finale, when in fact we have one episode to go. And I think I liked it more as a finale than I do as a penultimate episode, since I suspect all will somehow be made well by the end of next week's show. (Once again, let me remind you of the spoiler rule: no talk about previews, things you've read, heard, etc., that would give away anything about the next episode.)

Still, the Vince/Verner blow-up played out entertainingly, and if the show manages to pull Vince out of his latest mess, at least it gave us a couple of interesting episodes before it did so.

Turtle and Meadow Soprano? Eh. The sad thing is that Drama has become such a broad, annoying character that I actually prefer a Turtle relationship plot to whatever they would have cooked up for Johnny. "Entourage": exceeding low standards everywhere!

What did everybody else think?

26 comments:

TV Commentator said...

This was the first "Smoke Jumpers" episode worth watching - the show took a serious nosedive right after Ari negotiated that film with Dana... Meanwhile, Wikipedia is "reporting" that Jerry and Jamie are an actual item in real life. Must explain her reappearance and their actual chemistry on screen.

Anonymous said...

Has the show's writing dropped off so much that no one is going to bother questioning the continuity of tonight's episode? I mean, are we supposed to believe that after Smoke Jumpers ends all FOUR of the guys are heading back to NY? Doesn't Drama still have a TV show (which he was on the set of to start the season). And Eric still has his company in LA, albeit with only one other client. Plus, I think they needed to develop the financial situation of Vince more this season (cast him as MUCH more desperate) because I didn't really feel like they were leading up to the guys having to return to NY if things didn't work out.

I don't know. Maybe I still expect too much out of Entourage. I want the same quality as other HBO projects (hello, Larry Sanders anyone?) and just need to accept that this is basically a network sitcom with four-letter words and nudity.

That First Andrew said...

What was all the talk about "shooting Ed Norton for three days in the woods"? Did they not shoot an episode with Jason Patric in the lead role? Or was that just some beautiful dream.

I felt a little bad for Turtle at the end. For the first time in the show's run, he had something of his own worth having (Saigon always felt like a hobby), and he has to go back to New York just cause Vince has messed up.

I am actually going to miss Werner. I think he could have been entertaining over a longer arc. I actually would have liked to see him try to make an actor out of Vince.

Anonymous said...

Ed Norton was the lead, Vince was supposed to be the 2nd lead and Jason was cast as a character actor whose part the director tried to enlarge by giving him some of Vince's best lines.

From what I can discern of the plot, Vince's team of firefighters gets in trouble and Ed Norton leads a second team of firefighters that rescue them.

As far as continuity goes, I don't see why they couldn't accompany Vince on a much-needed trip home. I don't think the end of the episode meant to imply that some of the characters weren't coming back days or a week later. I think they're just being supportive.

Anonymous said...

I don't think continuity has ever been a high priority on Entourage. Remember trying to establish exactly how Johnny and Vince were only half brothers when they both had the same mother and father? Yeah.

Karl Ruben said...

Yeah, the show isn't so poorly written that the guys would flee back East for good with so little preamble. To me, this appeared to be a little trip home to calm down after the turbulence of the last few episodes.

Thanks for writing up the last few episodes, Alan - your snark is spot on, even if I'm enjoying the show quite a bit more than you seem to be. What did you think of Stellan SkarsgÄrd's guest stint, by the way?

Jake said...

is it just me or is meadow soprano a terrible actress?

Alan Sepinwall said...

From what I can discern of the plot, Vince's team of firefighters gets in trouble and Ed Norton leads a second team of firefighters that rescue them.

My interpretation was the other way around, but either way, it gave the show an excuse to claim that Vince was doing a movie with Norton without ever needing the real Norton to guest star.

Jacob said...

nice post

Anonymous said...

I know they're buds and all, but after being invited to spend a week with Jamie Lynn, I wouldn't have even answered my phone had I seen that it was Vince calling.

Life's too short to be spending it in business class sitting next to Drama.

Chris

mark said...

Is Johnny Drama the star of his own TV show or not? All he ever does is nip at Vince's heels like Turtle. Would he not be working long days shooting his show for at least 7 months out of the year? How can he be on location with Vince at all times and able to travel whenever vince says so?

SusanS said...

Given all of his hanging around on the set, I presumed that Drama was on break from the show, and that the "going back to Queens" was a break, not a full blown return.
I thought this was one of the stronger episodes.

Chaddogg said...

I can't be the only one that thought this, but just because production shut down DOESN'T mean Vince didn't get paid. I'm sure he had escalators in his contract depending on the film hitting box office targets of some type, but as a big name actor Vinnie would have gotten SOME upfront, guaranteed money even if the movie never got released.

So what's the crisis? Yes, he doesn't get to have the world see his solid work on this film, but he still got money....although the damage to his reputation (re: not getting along with the director and forcing in some way the movie to shut down) might be pretty bad.

Anonymous said...

As to the boys leaving for NY. At first I thought it might just be a trip home to help out Vince, but doesn't Vince say something on the plane like, "We said we'd leave when we had nothing left"? I can't remember the exact quote, but it seemed to imply that this was more than just E, Turtle, and Drama taking Vince home to help him out. And, yes, I do think the writing was crappy this season because I don't remember any indication before this episode that if the movie didn't get made Vince would have to leave Hollywood. Given how much time previous seasons have spent detailing the guys' money problems it seemed odd that NOW they were finished, without really building toward it. Didn't we all assume when Turtle got the call that it was to regroup at the house and sort things out?

Andrew Flynn said...

Good point with the half-brother vs. brother, above.

I would agree that Drama's show "Five Towns" is on hiatus, as it looks to be summer in Big Bear, where they're shooting Smokejumpers. As an aside, I don't think he's the star, but a key character. The younger actors seem to have juicier roles. Maybe he's like "Bull" in Night Court.

I never understood the "looming" bankruptcy, as Vince should have money coming in in terms of residuals and royalties from "Head On" and "Aquaman". (I'm assuming Queens Boulevard and Medellin didn't bring in any cash).

As you may recall, an episode of Seinfeld had Jerry endorsing checks for 13 cents each, because he was in the opening credit sequence of a Japanese comedy show. Surely "Head On" is in the TNT/USA rotation by now, and that "Aquaman"'s DVD and action figure sales should have a steady stream of living expenses cash.

I believe Vince's character is supposed to be the younger brother of Ed Norton's character, and that the previous poster was correct that they are on different teams. Maybe it's like a "Backdraft" sort-of approach.

Also agree that this Queens trip is a summer break for the guys. I can see everyone but Vince returning, actually, as Drama, E, and now Turtle have things keeping them in LA. E is actually doing well, getting 10% of Vince's deal (even up-front portion should net E $200k, and another $100k for representing the Smoke Jumpers writing team.

It's nice to actually see film production this season, as opposed to Turtle just picking up Vince on the set.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't Eric represent the writers of the movie too? Where were they? Shouldn't they have been objecting when Werner was changing the movie by giving away all of Vince's lines?

Alan Sepinwall said...

In the movie business, writers -- particularly first-time writers like these guys -- have no power whatsoever, and it's common for their work to be rewritten by the director, the actors, a studio-approved polish guy, or whomever.

Anonymous said...

great point...what happened to the writing team? don't the screenwriters at least sit on the set?

and how much time passed from the movie being greenlit to the start of shooting? it should be at least close to a year, right? especially such a big-budget movie

Adam said...

On Sunday nights, the most depressing night of the week, I watch Entourage, hoping for an escape from reality-- women, fame, fortune. Entourage has always been about this. But after watching Vince struggle for the past season, and now, apparently, for at least another season, I don't know if this can continue being my Sunday night ritual. I don't want to watch the travails of a bad actor. I want to watch the rise of a good one. That's a lot more fun to watch. Misery might win Emmys, but a little frivolous fun wins audiences, in my opinion.

Mozart said...

Firstly, why do they have named the director Verner. Thats not a German name. Werner is.

Secondly the chemistry between Meadow and Turtle is great - you really can see that they went on to become a couple after (or during??) the shooting.

Thirdly, Entourage is great. Not always, but sometimes to mostly. Can't understand why you dont like it. Maybe you have the same expectations: e.g. I dont expect it to be as accurate/realistic as Friday Night Lights. Or I dont expect Californication to be as psycho-studying like films of Ingmar Bergman. Art has its target, where they are aiming at. And Entourage doesnt want to be the next West Wing for sure.

Fouthly the (i dont think it is permanent!) shut-down of the movie was very very unrealistic. Have you ever heard of a movie that got shot down at this point of shooting and not get completed with a A-list cast and crew?!? No never, because there are several reasons. Surely Ed Norten has something against it, he co-produces probably. And btw Werner would have had no standing at all. In fact it happens quite often that foreign directors get substituted during shooting a movie in Hollywood. And finally, there are extremely high sunk costs (upfront payments, the sets, play or pay deals, etc.)
Thus bad writing, which was just there, because the plots needs to get in that direction.

Fourthly to Alan's neverending whining about how "everythings turns out good". He has one of the most powerful agents ever behind him (for reasons that are not totally reasonable, sig) and compare the career of Vince to Tony Sopranos. Has had Tony such long lasting lows? No. And how does he manages to get away from being caught by the police? I really would love The Sopranos if everything has not turned out good for Tony all the time. hehehe

In fact, Vince has lost a lot so far. He's far more the next Tobey Aquaman than the next Leonardo CashCow AND critics-favourite.
And what about Medellin, how has that turned out good for Vince? Please explain it to me how not being marketed as actor at all anymore is good in any way?!?

So please give the show a little slack.

Cheers,
Mozart

Anonymous said...

No one commented on the most important revelation of this episode. Turtle's real first name. It's Sal.

That First Andrew said...

Mozart,

Tony Soprano worked like a dog to keep himself and his "family out of trouble." He was a complex man with passions and faults, and he was fascinating to watch.

Vincent Chase is a duche. He spent every season before this one pissing on other people and putting no effort into his work, yet still falling ass backwards into money and success, plus wading knee deep in vagina. He doesn't deserve the charmed life he has been living.

That was the main complaint through last year, where they even set it up for Harvey Weinstein's doppleganger to save the picture. They axed that when they realized they need to throw some ACTUAL problems in Vince's path. This has been a step in the right direction, but you still can't help but think they will settle back into that by the end of the season.

It is actually very realistic for a movie to be shut down, even a 100 million tentpole movie like smoke jumpers. Dana Gordon said that they were a week into shooting and two million over budget. The director was difficult and a primadonna, and the second lead had been fired. It was causing more problems than it was worth.

Fourthy, you have too fourthlies. (just teasing...)

Vince's career this season has been on an epic decline, but you can't deny that we haven't felt any real consequences of it. He has no money, but they are still rolling around in an escalade, living it up like they always have. The big thing last night was that they were flying Coach. Is that it? Really?

Andrew Dignan said...

Mozart:

Terry Gilliam's The Man Who Killed Don Quixote staring a little actor named Johnny Depp. Filmed for a week before production was halted, never to be resumed.

It's rare but it happens.

Mozart said...

To Don Quixote:

1. It as an independent production with European money (and underfinanced as well).
2. The lead was terminally ill and would have to be replaced.
3. A flood destroyed all of the sets, thus Gilliam RAN OUT OF MONEY AND COULDNT SHOOT AND MORE and has even lost the rights to the screenplay to an insurance company.

Not really comparable to a Warner tent pole, is it?

here for more information: http://www.smart.co.uk/dreams/donqfact.htm

lungfish said...

Totally agree with Werner... Vince was horrible in those takes. His idea of displaying more emotion consisted of shouting more loudly into the walkie talkie.

Mozart said...

That First Andrew,

why doesnt Vince deserve his live and all surroundings in it?

And to the Tony Soprano - comparison:
Work is one thing, but there are others that are important to the fate of someones life as well, e.g. talent (Vince is supposed to have it, although you barely can see his big-moviestar-potential in Entourage), luck (being cast as Aquaman), or just fate (he is the favourite client of the powerful Ari Gold).

To end the discussion:
Either you can accept the premises of the series and its concept or you just can't. I can.