Entourage is everything viewers have come to expect from an HBO series: smart, hilarious, and highly addictive, especially when taken in full-season, DVD form. As implied in the title, the show follows Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), a rising Hollywood star with bedroom eyes and an over-active libido, along with his three childhood companions-turned-hangers-on. Kevin Dillon plays Johnny Drama, Vincent's less-attractive, B-list actor of a brother (he is Matt Dillon's less-attractive, B-list actor of a brother in real life). Jerry Ferrara plays Turtle, the weasel, and Kevin Connolly appears as Eric, the Everyman hero who hopes to parlay his friendship with Vincent (plus two years of community college) into a career in talent management. Along the way Eric contends with the predictable self-doubt, romantic indecision, etc. The cast is rounded out by Jeremy Piven (Doug Hughley from Singles) as a foul-mouthed agent reminiscent of Jay Mohr's short-lived Peter Dragon character. Finally, it's produced by Marky Mark himself--and you've got to believe that guy knows something about the star-entourage relationship. If possible, watch with a friend so you'll have someone to quote lines back to later.
The most clever thing producers did with the second season of Entourage, HBO's hip and hilariously accurate depiction of Hollywood, was to take the boys out of Hollywood. Sending star-on-the-rise Vincent Chase and his boys from Queens into places like Sundance and ComiCon created a whole new treasure trove of inside jokes, and for that we thank them. The usual clutter of celeb cameos abound (Hugh Hefner, Pauly Shore, Ralph Macchio,), but one main story arc takes up the entire season: Vincent's casting in Aquaman, the big-budget movie he didn't want to star in, and then had to vie against Leonardo DiCaprio to get. Mandy Moore turns up as the only girl who ever broke Vince's heart (on the set of A Walk to Remember, allegedly) and now re-enters his life as his Aquagirl, while James Cameron makes a few appearances as director of the superhero project. In the meantime, Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) goes from moocher to music manager, Eric (Kevin Connolly) gets courted to be a big-time agent, and Johnny "Drama" (Kevin Dillon, ever the punchline) ponders calf implants and gets fired from a "Movie of the Week" with Brooke Shields. The biggest turn of events, however, happens to Vince's slick agent Ari Gold (an Emmy-worthy Jeremy Piven), who pulls a "Jerry Maguire" by the end of the season. Ari's ability to switch sides on a dime -- that is, to choke up at his daughter's batmitzvah, then manipulate the family moment into a publicity stunt to lure his client away from a rival, continues to make Piven the firecracker of the bunch. Grenier is slightly less vacuous than last season, but still has the least interesting personality (which could be the point of the show--that it takes a village to make any Joe Actor into a movie star). One interesting extra on the DVD: Executive Producer Mark Wahlberg, on whom the show is based, interviews the cast and producers. The banter is interesting enough, but Wahlberg makes such a dull interviewer it's certain we won't see a talk-show host career in Vince's future.