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Burying Entourage

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The final episode of Entourage aired Sunday night on HBO and when I say “final,” I mean exactly what Statler and Waldorf said.

One of the more craptastic shows ever reputed to be quality, I’m shocked that everything worked out for all of the characters in the end — spoiler alert!! (like it matters). But face it, if you’ve never seen the show and know nothing of Vince, Turtle and Drama, you’d leave the finale feeling underwhelmed and mentally molested. The storyline ties it all up with too tight a bow for it’s own good, but it’s always been this way.

You’re Vincent Chase, one of the highest-paid A-list actors in town. One of the guys sponging off you is feeling down? Just fly to Venice with Carmelo Anthony and Jay-Z because that makes sense — and everything that previously seemed to be of utmost importance and urgency can all be swept away (usually with money).

Even approaching the show fully aware that it’s heavy-duty eye candy lacking protein and will never fill you up, it’s hard to leave the gang without thinking: THEY WANT TO MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT THIS? It’s one thing to throw down a few bucks a week because so many HBO shows are worth paying for but Entourage isn’t one of them. It’ll cost us more to see it and we have to stay 90 minutes longer?

“We watched the show, now unlock the doors.”

With the exception of Ari (sometimes Lloyd), not exactly the Mariana Trench of depth here. Characters not even slightly interesting; storylines like a jerky, out of control drive down a wild canyon road that leads nowhere in particular.

As a series, as a final season and as a final episode, how bad was Entourage?

The lead character — the one individual who connects to everyone else and the show revolves around — meets the girl he’ll eventually marry. We’re shown absolutely none of the courtship.

That’s how bad.

She hates him, she hates him, they’re getting married, she’s thrilled. Not a single scene showing them break the ice — we never even see them kiss — making Entourage absolutely everything The Graduate is not.

Instant gratification, you can do anything if you just say it happened. Rarely any true consequences plus characters who don’t face actual conflict or pay the price for tough decisions, it all becomes nonsense. You might as well say that E can fly.

Johnny Drama needs a movie and can’t get one based on talent or likeability of any kind whatsoever, it’s brushed aside with a $100,000 bribe. Turtle has problems, Turtle’s problems are solved.

And E — boy, that was close. I didn’t think he’d get back with Sloan, especially with Malcolm McDowell pissed off and threatening to kill him. An episode earlier, he called her a slut. He’s been having sex with her ex-stepmom and if Sloan ever finds out, it’s over. So how does everyone convince her that he didn’t? They all lie to her. Overplay the allusion that it’s all peachy, then give that relationship another 20 minutes.

Granted, the irony is that Vincent Chase is one of the most successful actors in Hollywood, at the same time portrayed by one of the worst actors in Hollywood — you’re limited to what you have to work with. You almost have to not delve into a deeper story because there’s so little chance the guy can pull it off. Watching Adrian Grenier explore his craft is like seeing the guy at Subway mess up your sandwich and you not saying anything.

Cocaine possession on Showtime’s Californication, it’s a guarantee you see Hank Moody in an actual jail cell or court room and/or rehab clinic. With Vince, what’s the point in worrying? Season 7 ends, he’s messed-up on drugs and alcohol, busted for possession. Season 8 starts with him walking out of rehab, forget all that stuff in between. And you wanted to see the courtship of Sophia?

Upscale lady reporter with little to no respect for Vince, she thinks he’s a womanizing pig and isn’t even slightly interested. She’s so unapologetically unimpressed after meeting him that she writes her Vanity Fair piece unfavorably yet truthful. At this point, if you can’t see these two married by the final episode, your favorite character is Johnny Drama because you find him so compelling.

She refuses to go out with him, she won’t date celebrities. There isn’t a single scene with the two of them together where the promise of relationship potential is present, quite the opposite. She reluctantly agrees to have a drink with him and the next time we see her, she’s bubbly against type, smiling and engaged. This turn takes place between episodes and we never see what made it happened; what changed her mind — we never see any of it. It just was.

Seemingly the last woman to give way to her negative first impression and jet off to Paris to marry the reprobate after just one night — having sex on the first date — obviously she’s not who we thought she was. At the same time, to believe Vince met a woman like no other he’s met before is to have her not board that plane.

So how do you solve a problem like Sophia? Cut to the next scene and just say it all worked out. She’s a strong woman and way out of Vince’s league — just jump to the part where everything’s good.

One thing we learn is that Vince has been reading the Wall Street Journal in order to make himself seem intelligent in Sophia’s eyes, then — in the very same scene!! — he’s surprised to learn that Avion Tequila went public that day and he made $15 million on his shares.

Turtle has spent the last few weeks trying to open a restaurant but added expenses have dogged him. He calls every major athlete in New York seeking additional investment but comes up empty. He’s doomed for about two minutes, when Vince tells him he never sold the stock and Turtle’s shares are worth $4 million.

A normal person would burst into tears, possibly lose bladder control. Not only are all your problems solved, you’re rich beyond your wildest dreams. From loser to winner in a snap, you don’t take that in stride, it’s not just part of your day.

Even Ari figures it all out, in the final 10 minutes …

Married to his job and cellphone, his wife has told him for eight seasons that he needs to put family first. She leaves him for Bobby Flay. Ari hears an opera song and finally realizes he needs to put family first. Wife conveniently has broken up with Flay and takes him back with help from the “Say Anything…” effect — like nothing ever happened.

The show ends, they’ve retired to Southern Italy and Ari gets a phone call offering him the job of chairman and chief executive of a studio. Cut to him pondering the idea and here we go all over again!

This is pure gold, Ari Gold. Save some of that magic for the big screen, fellas, and please, keep the exits clear.

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