Entourage 8.1 – Home Sweet Home

Tonight’s season premiere of “Entourage” was about one thing and one thing only: picking Vincent Chase up out of the gutter and getting his career back on track… again. After a 90-day stint in rehab, Vince is finally free to return home, but little does he know that Drama has been obsessing over making sure that his baby brother doesn’t relapse. Along with getting rid of all the real drugs and alcohol in the house, Drama goes so far as to even prevent any pill-shaped substance from being in sight, whether it’s an Advil or a Tic-Tac. It doesn’t take long for Vince to realize that the gang is babying him (even more than normal), and how could he not? Everyone was acting so awkward the minute he stepped out of the rehab clinic that it was only a matter of time before he called them out on it.

Vince seems willing to put up with all the coddling, however, if it means he can get back to work. And amazingly, Warner Bros. still wants him as the star of that Stan Lee superhero film, “Airwalker,” as long he’s willing to take a drug test. But the movie doesn’t start shooting until March, and Vince is raring to go, so he suggests directing his own film about a real-life story of Romanian miners getting trapped underground. The rest of the guys think it sounds terrible (a Lifetime movie-of-the-week at best), but because they’re trying to be supportive, they refrain from telling him the truth. That is until Eric, who’s still a little pissed at Vince for ignoring him while he was away, speaks his mind.

You can hardly blame him for being so grouchy lately. Though he’s enjoying professional success after taking over Murray’s management agency alongside Scotty Lavin (who, despite being partners, still fight like a couple of siblings), Eric’s personal life is in the dumps following Sloan’s decision to call off the marriage when he refused to sign a prenup. I’m guessing it was more of a matter of integrity than Eric simply being greedy, but that didn’t stop Sloan from sending back the engagement ring in an envelope. And as the gang so humorously points out, “not even a padded one.”

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HBO Bids Adieu to “Entourage” After Eight Seasons

To be completely honest, “Entourage” probably should have called it quits a few seasons ago after Vincent Chase reemerged from the failure of “Medellin” to reclaim his spot among the Hollywood elite. But now that the final season is just around the corner, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t excited to see how it all ends. Even with the chance of a potential big screen adventure, it’s hard to imagine that creator Doug Ellin won’t want to provide at least some kind of bookend to the series – particularly one that’s a little happier than the way he left off things last season.

With perhaps the exception of Eric, whose rekindled relationship with Sloan led to the pair getting engaged, the rest of the guys ended Season Seven on a low. After bringing in Mark Cuban as a potential business partner for Avion tequila, Turtle was seemingly pushed out of the deal with nothing to show for it; Drama gave up a plum job on network TV only to wind up settling for a new animated show conceived by Billy Walsh; Ari managed to save his career but not his wife after she walked away from their marriage; and Vince was thrown into rehab following his arrest for possession of cocaine.

Fortunately, the only place to go from there is up, which means that even if Season Eight doesn’t cap off the series with a completely happy ending, it’ll at least have a much brighter outlook than the previous season. Though everyone involved is holding their cards pretty close to their chests in regards to what we can expect to see, HBO has released a few promos and snippets of information that tell us a few things. For starters, the season will begin with Vince being released from a 90-day stint in rehab and eager to get back to work. But when he finds it difficult to land an acting job due to his recent tabloid-worthy exploits, he decides to write a starring vehicle for himself.

The rest of the guys will also continue to try and forge their own careers now that they’ve severed their dependency to Vince, with Turtle launching a new business venture to open a Hollywood location of the New York-based Italian restaurant, Don Peppe; Drama beginning production on “Johnny’s Bananas” alongside Andrew Dice Clay (presumably as one of the other voices); and Eric opening a new management company with Scotty Lavin. Interestingly enough, it also looks like his engagement to Sloan has hit a snag, while Ari will dedicate his time solely to winning back Mrs. Ari following their separation.

It all sounds promising enough, as long as things don’t get too serious. That was one of the main problems with last season, which often forgot it was a comedy at times by focusing all of its energy on the darker and more dramatic moments. And with only eight episodes for its grand finale, Ellin and Co. will have to be especially mindful of staying true to the story they want to tell while still delivering the show that fans know and love.

The eighth and final season premieres July 24th at 10:30 pm EST on HBO.

  

Friday Video – Ex Norwegian, “Jet Lag”

Seth Meyers may have joked that MySpace is the abandoned amusement park of the Internet, but let it not be said that it no longer has something to offer. As a social networking site, yes, Facebook has wiped the floor with them, but it’s still a great outlet for bands, especially if you’re at anything like us and like being able to check out a band’s material without handing over some private information for the privilege. Download our new song! All you have to do is fork over your email address. That practice just gives us the willies.

And then sometimes, something really awesome happens, like the unsolicited friend request from a really good band that you never would have heard about otherwise. Case in point: Ex Norwegian, a Miami trio that lives in this magical place where ’90s power pop is still going strong and nu metal and emo never happened. They sent us a friend request, and we asked if we could hear more. The kindly sent us their first album Standby. We liked. We posted a song from it in our download column Me, Myself and iPod. A little bit later, they sent us a link to download their recently completed new album Sketch.

Damn, it’s even better than their first album. Sweet.

Here’s the video for opening track and first single “Jet Lag.” We love the way it opens with a clear nod to grunge rock (that opening bass line and guitar chord is none more Alice in Chains), then gives way to a sky-high chorus that Sloan would be proud to call their own. If you like this, there is plenty more where it came from on Sketch, so do something you probably haven’t done in a couple years and hit a MySpace page, namely theirs. You won’t regret it.

  

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