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Entourage: Season 1 Review

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Surpisingly entertaining drama about being young and rich in Hollywood

★★★★★

Inspired by executive producer Mark Wahlberg’s early days tearing up Hollywood with his high-school pals, and co-starring an actual veteran of Leonardo DiCaprio’s posse, Entourage’s not-so-lofty aim is to show the world just how much fun it is to be young, rich and famous in Tinseltown. If ever a TV series should have ended up as vacuous, self-indulgent trash, it’s this one. How the hell, then, did it wind up being one of the most entertaining shows on the box?

The answer, pure and simple, is charm. While most insider looks at Hollywood are frosty satires, Entourage isn’t afraid to let you like — even love — its characters. The four main players have largely unearned wealth and lifestyles, but they’re also hilarious, with street smarts and their own distinct foibles. Vince Chase (Adrian Grenier) is the newly minted A-lister at the centre of it all, but in what might be a sly dig on the part of the show’s creatives, he’s also a bit blander than his mates. Far more fun are the deluded Johnny Drama, Vince’s less famous brother (played by Kevin Dillon, Matt’s less famous brother); Eric (Kevin Connolly, DiCaprio’s buddy), Vince’s best friend and manager; and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), the rap-loving goofball who might be the wisest of the bunch.
This first season hurtles through Vince’s early days as a famous face, seeing the guys face a bad review in Variety and decide whether to commit to a ‘Die Hard In Disneyland’ project that Colin Farrell’s eyeing. The Hollywood inside-jokes come thick and fast, many delivered by self-spoofing stars (the Gary Busey episode, Busey And The Beach, is a doozy, while Val Kilmer rocks out as the ultimate stoner).

But the number-one reason to watch isn’t the stream of celebrity cameos — it’s an actor who’s struggled along for the past 20 years. Jeremy Piven, who’s always turned out high-quality, low-quantity roles and was previously best known for being John Cusack’s best mate in Grosse Pointe Blank, is mesmerising as Ari, Vince’s shark-like but impossible-to-hate agent, hurling perfectly crafted put-downs as if he’s having the time of his life. The vibe is contagious.

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