‘Entourage’: The Guilt/Pleasure Index

Adam GoldbergPhoto courtesy of HBO

In the season three finale, the four boys move out of their palatial mansion, winding up variously in (a) a palatial hotel suite, (b) an overpriced Beverly Hills condo, or (c) Sloane’s apartment. (Turtle, assumedly, will be sleeping under Vince’s bed.) Also: A naked little person! No wonder this is the one show we can’t stop watching–slash–can’t stop hating ourselves for watching!

Episode: “Adios Amigos”

Pleasure: Adam Goldberg returns as Nicky Rubenstein, the antic producer with the fat checkbook and the Oedipal issues. Apparently, his trust fund kicks in at age 35 (convenient!), and he wants to spend his $25 million to make Medellin. Yay! But then the boys recruit Billy Walsh, that prickly auteur behind Queens Boulevard, and he says he can only make the film for $30 million. Boo! But then Nicky ponies up the extra dough! Yay! Then Billy says he wants to make the whole movie in Spanish. Malo!

Meanwhile, Drama undertakes some negotiations of his own — and, in the worst example of haggling in human history, he winds up paying $1.5 million for a $1.4 million condo. And though the show reliably provides week-in, week-out gratuitous female eye-candy (bikini-wearing women stroll the L.A. landscape like some transplanted alien race), this week Entourage ups the ante. The boys track down Walsh filming a porn movie, which serves as the perfect opportunity for a casual nude-woman stroll-by or two as well as some HBO-boundary-pushing background naked high-jinks. And, in what must surely be an Entourage first, we’re also treated to the Fellini-esque sight of a buck-naked male little person strolling through the background, chatting on a cell phone. Would that the show employed more of these surreal-L.A. touches! Of course, Entourage is all about the banter, with Turtle getting the best line this week: When E explains he’s only temporarily staying at Sloane’s apartment, Turtle says, “Yeah, and that girl in Silence of the Lambs was only ‘staying’ in that well.”

Guilt: The season-long sense of déjà vu – that the struggle to make Medellin is wearily reminiscent of the struggle to make Queens Boulevard — isn’t exactly ameliorated by the return of high-grade irritant Billy Walsh (Rhys Coiro). Now, there may be a trick to playing an obnoxious, grating A-hole without simply coming off as obnoxious and grating and a-holish, but if there is, Coiro hasn’t quite figured it out. So the prospect of having to spend next season with Walsh is enough to make you wish the whole gang would be swallowed up in a 5.6 earthquake. Perhaps this episode felt especially pale when held up against the infinitely more entertaining guy-banter in the just-released Knocked Up. But unless Vince contracts gonorrhea, Drama comes out of the closet, or Walsh has a Coppola-style, Hearts of Darkness meltdown on the set of Medellin, it’s hard to imagine how the producers can defibrillate this series back to life in Season Four. —Adam Sternbergh

‘Entourage’: The Guilt/Pleasure Index