Thursday, June 20, 2013

Entourage: The Complete Series Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
They’re baaack!  Catch the action for the first time or relive the ups and downs that come with fame as Vince, Eric, Drama and Turtle take you on a whirlwind ride through the high-stakes world of Hollywood with Entourage: The Complete Series.  Created and executive produced by Doug Ellin and loosely based on the experiences of his good friend, Mark Wahlberg (who’s among the series’ executive producers), Entouragetakes a none-too-serious look at the day-to-day life of Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), a hot young Hollywood actor, and the inner circle of friends he’s brought from his hometown in Queens, NY: manager Eric (Kevin Connolly), half-brother/actor Drama (Kevin Dillon) and enterprising pal Turtle (Jerry Ferrara).  The series also stars Jeremy Piven who garnered three Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for his portrayal as Vince’s agent Ari Gold, Rex Lee as Lloyd and Perry Reeves as the long-suffering Mrs. Ari.  Returning guest stars include Scott Caan as Scott Lavin, Emmanuelle Chriqui as Sloan, Beverly D’Angelo as Ari’s business partner Babs and Debi Mazar as Vince’s publicist Shauna.  The set is boxed in a stylishly cool, black casing and features all eight seasons along with more than six hours of bonus content and is the first time seasons one through five are available on Blu-ray.

Film (4 out of 5 stars) 

“Entourage” is an extremely easy show to watch and like as each episode goes down smooth and easy and before you know it you’ve seen an entire season.  It’s fitting that as you watch the show about friendship that you end up liking these guys yourself and start to think of them as friends too.  Over the course of eight seasons, “Entourage” told us the story of a young actor named Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) who started off without much going on professionally, to becoming a major star who had his pick of projects.  Heck, by the second season he was inAquaman, a movie directed by James Cameron (who appeared on the show as himself).  Part of what made the series so fun to watch was wondering who the guest star would be because it was usually someone pretty cool like Peter Jackson, M. Night Shyamalan, John Cleese, Martin Scorsese, and Malcolm McDowell just to name some of them.
Watching Vince and his friends navigate Hollywood life and grow over the course of the series is interesting to see as each of them change in small ways but they are always there for each other.  Vince’s half-brother “Drama” (Kevin Dillon) is also an actor but not one as talented or as lucky as Vince.  His fortunes and career goes up and down each season but most of his success is due to his loyal brother helping him out.  In fact, Vince helps all of his friends out including his best friend and manager “E” (Kevin Connolly) in a major way in season eight.  Another friend, “Turtle” (Jerry Ferrara) starts off as a pot smoking slacker but ends up becoming quite a business man thanks largely to Vince’s financial help.
An then there is Vince’s agent Ari.  Played by Jeremy Piven to perfection (he won three Emmys and a Golden Globe for the role), Ari is the consummate agent  but as ruthless as he is, he is also friends with Vince and the others which causes problems for them on occasion.  Ari is all about the deal and that dedication puts his personal life into jeopardy when his wife Melissa (Perrey Reeves) grows steadily unhappy with each season.  Ari’s assistant Lloyd (Rex Lee) is also a source of both humor and challenges for Ari who has an interesting relationship with him.  In a way they are like an old married couple themselves with both of them going back and forth at each other.
By the end of the show, every member of this entourage will have to make some life altering choices and the show ties up all of the loose ends nicely albeit in some case a little too quickly.  For a show about friendship, this final season perfectly encapsulates that core value as we see each of them helping each other where-ever possible, but at the end Vince really goes all out.  During the course of the series, Vince’s friends have largely been there to help him, but it was nice to see the tables turn at the end, with Vince directly making each one of his friends’ lives better.  By the close of the final season, a lot of big changes happened which would have permanently changed the dynamics of the show if it had continued.
Here’s a short recap of each season:
  • Entourage: The Complete First Season - Your best friend’s star is rising in Hollywood, and there’s only one thing to do: join his entourage. Meet Eric, Turtle and Johnny Drama: three guys from Queens dedicated to helping their film-star buddy Vincent Chase navigate the absurdities of modern-day Hollywood–where sex, parties and super-agents rule the town.
  • Entourage: The Complete Second Season - After three months shooting an indie film in the Big Apple, the boys are back in La-la-land. Eric is officially Vince’s manager, Turtle is running the house, Drama is hoping to enhance his onscreen assets…and Ari is pushing a blockbuster superhero role for his golden-boy client.
  • Entourage: Season 3 Part 1 - With Vince’s star expected to rise even higher in the Hollywood firmament as a result of his starring role in a potential blockbuster titled Aquaman, the boys must find a way to keep stroking their golden goose while making sound decisions for a long-lasting career in a world of fleeting fame.
  • Entourage: Season 3 Part 2 - Sure it would be great to have it all, but at what price? For Vince, Eric, Drama and Turtle, life in Hollywood’s fast lane isn’t without its road bumps, as we learned when a botched deal cost Ari, Vince’s longtime agent, his job. Will change at the top make the difference in getting Vince his dream picture – or will the boys regret giving Ari the ax?
  • Entourage: The Complete Fourth Season - Sure it would be great to have it all, but at what price? For Vince, Eric, Drama and Turtle, life in Hollywoods fast lane can be an intoxicating ride. In Season Four, in fact, Eric and Vince have taken on new roles as producers. Will their film be hailed as a critical masterpiece, or will it end up on the trash heap of broken Tinseltown dreams?
  • Entourage: The Complete Fifth Season - For Vince, Eric, Drama, and Turtle, life in Hollywood’s fast lane can be an intoxicating ride. In Season Five, can the guys put the Medellin fiasco behind them and orchestrate a career comeback for Vince?
  • Entourage: The Complete Sixth Season - For Vince, Eric, Drama and Turtle, life in Hollywood’s fast lane can be an intoxicating roller-coaster of a ride. After hitting some speed bumps the last couple of years, Vince’s career is in high gear after his role in a new Martin Scorsese film. But now that Vince is back on top, is it finally time for the entourage to step out of his shadow?
  • Entourage: The Complete Seventh Season - For Vince, Eric, Drama and Turtle, life in Hollywood’s fast lane can be an intoxicating ride. Entourage season 7, after an accident during the filming of his latest action flick, Vince develops a new lease on life that makes him even more difficult to manage, while each of the guys must decide which steps to take to map out their own futures, both personally and professionally.
  • Entourage: The Complete Eighth Season - Vince, Eric, Drama, and Turtle have been through a lot over the years, chasing dreams, women, and good times. Through the highs and lows their friendship has kept them together. This final season, find out if the guys can compete on their own in the fast lane of high-stakes Hollywood.
There’s been a lot of rumors  that a movie is in the works, so it would be interesting to see how that effort would continue their stories.  After all the group went through, it was very satisfying to see the characters grow up and remain friends throughout all of their adventures.  Every actor was great in their role and overall, the show was always funny.  There were times when the show didn’t fire on all cylinders, but that’s normal for a show that spans eight seasons.  I think they ended the show at the right time and on a high note and it’s great to finally get every season on Blu-ray in one collection!

Video (4 out of 5 stars) 

Before this collection, the first five season had yet to make their debut on Blu-ray so this is a happy occasion to finally get them all in high definition and also in the right aspect ratio (1.78:1, which it was filmed in). Each show’s 1080p (1.78:1) transfer offers a very nice looking image that far surpasses the earlier DVDs’ video quality.  Filmed on 35mm film, the show has a cinematic quality to it that perfectly captures the California atmosphere well.  The many colors of the show are well defined and pop off the screen.  Black levels are wonderfully inky and solid and contrast is top notch as well.  There’s a lot of detail present as well especially in close-ups where you can see the pores on the actor’s faces.  Other than some crush issues, these transfers look great and are sure to make the show’s fans happy.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars) 

Entourage: The Complete Series’ DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is also excellent as well.  Dialogue is always clear and crisp as delivered by the front channels no matter how much other things are going on around them.  The rear channels and the LFE channel aren’t as active as I would have expected, but when it’s warranted, they come to life and make their presence known.  The show’s music once again comes across well and a much louder level than the rest of the show.  Directional effects are fairly accurate but aren’t too flashy.  Each season offers a fine lossless mix that works well for the show.

Extras (4 out of 5 stars) 

There’s a lot of extras here as befitting a complete series set and they are all pretty good and in high definition.
  • Audio Commentaries – There’s twenty-one audio commentaries included (basically about three per season) with a rotating cast  of speakers that include show creator Doug Ellin, Executive Producer Larry Charles, Mark Wahlberg, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara and Jeremy Piven just to name some of them.  They share stories and talk about their characters, the inspiration for the show, and make each other laugh.
  • Behind the Scenes of Entourage - A ten minute talk with Mark Wahlberg and the main cast talking about the characters and the show.
  • The Mark Wahlberg Sessions - Another extra that features Wahlberg but this one is a little more in depth as it runs over twenty minutes long.  Wahlberg talks about the inspiration for the show being his real life friends and how their history turned into the show.  We even see some of his real life friends make an appearance.
  • Vegas Baby, Vegas!- A short look behind the scenes of the cast filming an episode in Las Vegas.
  • Museum of Television & Radio – At almost an hour long, this extra is the longest and most in depth look into the show with the show’s PaleyFest panel going into the details of the show and the characters.  Show creator Doug Ellin, the main cast, and Co-Executive Producer Julian Farino appear on the panel.  This is my favorite extra in this set and I wish more shows that have done one of these PaleyFest panels would include it as an extra too.
  • Anatomy of Entourage - A brief behind the scenes look at the season three finale.
  • US Comedy Arts Festival Panel - Another great panel that runs almost an hour, but this time features Doug Ellin, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, and Jeremy Piven as they discuss the first four seasons of the show.
  • The Making of Medellin - A brief look at the making of the season four premiere’s fake film.
  • Medellin Trailer - The fake trailer for the fake film Medellin that Vince starred in for the fourth season.
  • Meet the Newest Member of Entourage - A two minute look at Doug Ellin’s progeny Lucas Ellin.
  • The Celebrity Factor – A list of all of the celebrity cameos that occurred during season five.
  • Life on Top - A fifteen minute featurette devoted to show how the characters evolved from season to season.
  • A Day at the Speedway - A very short look at the making of the episode “One Car, Two Car, Red Car, Blue Car”.
  • ONEXONE PSA - This is a very funny fake public service announcement with Vince and Ari in character making a PSA with guest star Matt Damon there to direct it.  It’s pretty funny!
  • Inside the Hollywood Highlife – A look at the seventh season of the show and where the characters are in their lives at that point.
  • The Shades of Sasha Grey - A six minute talk with adult film star Sasha Grey who made a couple of guest appearances on the show.  She candidly talks about working in the porn industry.
  • Hollywood Sunset: A Farewell to Entourage - This extra is a thirty minute retrospective that includes series creator Doug Ellin, writer/executive producer Ally Musika, and actors Adrian Grenier, Kevin Connolly, Kevin Dillon and Jerry Ferrara.  They talk about the rough start the show had and how it evolved.  Jeremy Piven and Rex Lee also join in and offer their perspectives on the show and their characters.  We also get to see some of the cast’s auditions and behind the scenes footage.  All of this is entertaining but I wish it had been longer especially since this is the only extra from the final season.

Summary (4 out of 5 stars) 

I was glad to see Entourage maintain its quality over the course of the series and manage to end strong during it’s final season.  This tale of friendship and fun is very enjoyable and it’s great that it’s finally been collected into one set and on high definition.  What’s even better is that this Blu-ray set offers great audio and visual quality and a good selection of extras as well.  I would have liked even more extras for a massive set like this, but I’m still pretty happy with what I got.  If you enjoyed the show, then I highly recommend you get this set and watch the complete journey with these characters to see their stories from the beginning to the end.
Order your copy today! 

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