Courtesy of HBO
In last night’s episode of Entourage, “Gary’s Desk,” the season’s overarching plotlines — Medellin, Vince’s new career as a producer, Drama’s ostensible renaissance — lay dormant for yet another week. Instead, we get a re-cameo from Gary Busey, some vintage Ari pyrotechnics, and a pretty great joke about a Windsor knot. No wonder this is the one show we can’t stop watching–slash–can’t stop hating ourselves for watching!
Pleasure: Sure, this episode seemed like it was written by the Entourage Plot-o-Matic 3000: Ari goes into a business-related meltdown (two agents are openly warring); a big star (Mary J. Blige) makes an awkward and self-aggrandizing cameo (how many Grammys has she won again? Six?); and catastrophe (in this case, E’s ambush interview in Variety) is averted by a last-minute deus ex machina (in this case, Peter Jackson). That said, this week, Entourage’s pleasure was in the details. Few people play cuckoo better than Gary Busey, who apparently has a lot of real-world experience. And in an inspired idea that could have been milked even further, the two squabbling agents are identical twins, Jim and Jeff, one of whom slept with the other’s wife. Line of the night: When an exasperated Ari asks how to tell the two brothers apart, one (Jim? Jeff?) says, “I wear a Windsor knot.”
Guilt: The episode did little to dispel the feeling that the show’s been spinning its wheels for a season and a half. Even the “Previously on Entourage” recap at the beginning was less “Here’s what you need to know to follow tonight’s developments” and more “Here’s a bunch of stuff that happened over the last few weeks, while we try to figure out how to stretch this season to twenty episodes.” At least Drama’s presence was kept to a merciful minimum (despite some rote “fucking on the desk” jokes). As long as Ari’s the main wheel that’s spinning (and spraying mud everywhere), the show’s going to be watchable. But Entourage has the curious aura of a series that’s both at the apex of its acclaim and that’s run plum out of ideas. —Adam Sternbergh
The Guilt/Pleasure Index: