That HBO’s Entourage survived my post-Suckpranos-finale boycott of the network surprised me. Seriously, John From Cinncinnati suffered my dismissive wrath. Debuting immediately after Tony and family and a plate of onion rings left us forever in limbo I couldn’t change the channel fast enough and vowed never to return no matter how rave the reviews.
And Flight Of the Conchords? Please.
But I kept on watching Entourage. Partially because I’m a huge Jeremy Piven and Kevin Dillon fan, but mainly because we had set it up with a season pass on the TiVo. Certainly not because of the ever-weakening story line. Then something happened. There was a brief break and then the show’s new season started and it centered around the trials and tribulations that Vince, E, Johnny, Turtle and agent Ari (with wonderful sidekick Lloyd) had to go through in order to get their dream project — a biopic film of drug kingpin Pablo Escobar — made with little in the way of a safety net and a madmadmadmadmad genius of a director.
Where there’d been wafer-thin episodes about spending thousands of dollars on a pair of sneakers, all of a sudden there was crisp insider intrigue and conflict — not to mention Vince in a silly fatsuit as Escobar.
Well, that all went away with last night’s sex farce episode. Unabashedly titled “Day F***ers” it opened with the general opinion that E can’t have unemotional sex (apparently a bad thing) and then centered around a $5,000 bet between Johnny and Vince that Johnny could get Turtle laid before Vince could do the same for E.
Suffice it to say that by the end of the episode Vince, E and Johnny (substituting for a retiscent Turtle who couldn’t muster up the furry bluster to do it with a Craigslist date while donning a pink bunny costume) all get down, and just like that the show has reverted back to its vapid roots and left me on the verge of deleting its reserved slot from the TiVo’s memory.
But the power of Piven as an actor provided reason for a reprieve via a continuing B-story featuring his Ari resorting to dirty tricks that fail to keep his son from being booted out of the exclusive private school he attends (not for anything the kid’s done but because Ari’s a certified ass who the school despises). After exploring the other educational options (public school, eeek!) he comes home one night with an arm full of children’s books and a desperation plan to be a better father. Sitting with his son to read to him the boy looks at him wide-eyed and asks his dad if he’s going to be able to go to school with his best friend next year. With no way left to spin the truth a heartbroken Ari breaks down in frustration right there and the powerful and honest moment of raw emotion totally caught me by surprise.
Later on, Ari shows up at the school director’s home in the middle of the night and with tears streaming down his face literally begs the man not to make his son suffer the transgressions of his father. And I was choked up right along with him.
Of course, this being Hollywood the headmaster happens to have a “special” son he’d like to see promoted out of the talent agency mailroom he’s in. As Ari can make that happen a deal is brokered that keeps his son in school, but one I’m sure he’ll regret next week.
And I’ll be watching.