‘Entourage’: The Guilt/Pleasure Index

E, Vince, and AriCourtesy of HBO

You see, this right here is the problem with Entourage. Last week, we got a near-classic episode full of Hollywood glitz, posse shenanigans, and vintage Vesuvian eruptions from Ari Gold. This week, we get an episode so bad that it seemed like it was written by the winners of a “Write an episode of Entourage!” radio contest. No wonder this is the one show we can’t stop watching–slash–can’t stop hating ourselves for watching!

Episode: Gotcha!

Pleasure: Precious little. In fact, this episode was, like some sort of demonic Entenmann’s cookie, nearly 100 percent pleasure-free. At least one plotline was promising: Drama is targeted by a Punk’d-style hidden-camera show called Gotcha!, hosted by Pauly Shore, i.e. exactly the kind of well-known but not overly employed Hollywood personality who’s always just a phone call away to do an Entourage cameo. Speaking of mediocre cameos, in another plotline, Ari’s fat frat brother, played by Howard Stern minion Artie Lange, arrives with a hot blonde wife. He’s fat! His wife’s hot! Scandale! Ari is distressed. His wife is bemused. The hot blonde, who looks remarkably like Elle Macpherson, is not, in fact, Elle Macpherson. (She’s Leslie Bibb.) Oh, and there’s a lot of screen time given to a guy you’ve never heard of, Chuck Lidell, who’s a star of a sport you don’t pay attention to, Ultimate Fighting. Good times!

Guilt: Did we mention the gratuitous Jeremy Piven–shows–America–his–pecs sequence, in which Ari badgered his wife while walking around in a towel and treating us to a long, lingering look at just how much time he’s been spending at the gym? Did we mention the self-serving episode-long cameo by Chuck Lidell, who looked like he was reading his lines from cue cards held upside down? Did we mention that the Gotcha! payoff was obvious about six minutes into the episode, yet the show acted like it had just out-twisted The Sixth Sense? Did we mention that Vince is now sleeping with his hot agent Amanda, a quasi-conflict that, we predict, will smolder for roughly one and a half more episodes until Vince runs back into the comforting refuge of Ari’s Nautilus-enhanced embrace? Did we mention the episode ended with E telling Vince, of said hot agent, “I think she likes you,” and Vince answering, “I think I like her too,” at which point Brandon, Brenda, Dylan and the whole 90210 gang showed up to see who wanted to head over to the Peach Pit for a chocolate malted? Did we mention Artie Lange? — Adam Sternbergh