— If Entourage makes you laugh on a relatively consistent basis, than it has been a success. That's it. The show cannot, should not, be judged on anything else. The HBO comedy has never been about silly things like story or plot or drama (of the non-Johnny variety, that is) and so the way the show is ingested by its audience has remained simple, unfettered throughout the first three seasons. Considering Entourage's previous lack of ambition, last night's season four premiere was a huge risk. Never before had Entourage shown Vincent Chase filming a movie or had taken him and his crew out of the country.
There have been field trip episodes before (to Sundance Film Festival and to Vegas, for example) but nothing as major as last night's destination: Colombia, to film Vinnie's dream project, "Medillin". Entourage actually went to Colombia to film the episode and, prior to the premiere, it had been unclear how they what kind of Entourage-in-Colombia episode they would give us. We would only be spending one episode down south, and that one episode would have to span the entire production of "Medillin".
The route creator Doug Ellin took with the episode was either smart or wimpy. Probably a little of both. Rather than telling the story of the "Medillin" film shoot in the typical narrative style of Entourage, they made the episode a mockumentary of "Medillin" itself, the exact kind of behind-the-scenes documentary of major films that HBO itself shows all the time.
This allowed the entirety of production to be zipped through in the span of 29 minutes, and gave the audience a ton of information via the "interviews" with cast and crew. So, we saw Eric (who was producing a film for the first time) tell the audience exactly what was occurring on set a number of times. It worked seamlessly, and gave a great feel of what "Medillin" would look like as a film. I almost wish, after seeing the sped up version of the shoot, that Entourage would have spent the entire fourth season on the "Medillin" set.
Expectedly, the production hit a number of bumps in the road as filming went on, mostly thanks to wild card indie director Billy Walsh, who, among other things, fell in love with an actress playing a bit part (the ridiculously attractive Sofia Vergara) and decided they needed to hire Oscar-winner Stephen Gaghan to rewrite the ending.
We didn't get to see a whole lot of Queens Boulevard or Aquaman, so the whole episode was a nice change of pace, even if it was a little rushed. Fans now have an investment in the film that Vinnie is about to release, something we couldn't say for those other two.
And, going back to the beginning, was the episode funny? Yes. The character of Billy Walsh is always great and Johnny Drama was on his game last night. Ari had very little to do, but was amusing in the one-liners he was able to get out there. Overall, a very solid start to the new season.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of HBO.com)