North Of Ventura Boulevard Is Hell's Waiting Room: The Ongoing Pleasures Of "Entourage"

"Entourage" isn't a great show, and if I'm going to be honest, it probably isn't even a good one. The lead is pleasant but relentlessly bland, the characters never rise above caricatures, there's no one on the show to really care about, etc. And all that's true. The problem is, the show's so fun to watch I put all that aside every Sunday night and enjoy the show anyway.Part of it is the sheer meta-brilliance of the casting. Wannabe superstar Adrien Grenier playing wannabe superstar Vincent Chase? Low-level brother of a more famous actor Kevin Dillon playing low-level brother of a more famous actor Johnny Drama? It's too perfect. It's eerily on-the-nose. Add to that the fact that Jerry Ferrara seems born to play Turtle and it falls into place. Then there's the joy of watching Ari Gold tear into everyone from his clients to his assistant to the punk trying to date his daughter and it's even better. The most likable character is Eric (Kevin Connolly), Vince's friend and manager, who's miles away the smartest of the bunch. Johnny Drama and Turtle are shameless mooches, but at least Eric hides it by acting as a manager and getting 10%. And Vince is all smiles and breezy, but ultimately a careless guy. But Grenier makes it work, mainly because after slumming with Melissa Joan Hart, it's nice to see him doing a legit comedy on HBO. The show is also fun for its insider baseball and specific references to life in L.A. and the film industry, including digs at different parts of town. [This season's "One Day in the Valley" episode, in addition to probably being the best installment of the series, rightly bemoaned how summer in the Valley is brutally, cruelly hot.] But the most revealing moment of each week's episode is the brief "previously on" recap that kicks off the half-hour. The summary always leaves me feeling somewhat confused, even though I'm fully aware of the various light plot threads running through the show. After consideration, I realized it's because "Entourage" defies the entire concept of "previously on." The show's very nature is in the moment, never thinking beyond the next project or luxury car. Each episode makes overtures at forwarding a plot, but they're really just a kind of emotional porn for men, who can watch a young stud and his buddies lay extras and ingenues in between rounds of Halo and rooftop golf. As soon as the ending credits roll, the episode's specifics melt away, and I'm left with a not-unpleasant letdown of just having spent some time with dumb friends I will never have and a lifestyle I could never afford. There are worse ways to spend Sunday night.