Saturday, June 27, 2009
Entourage: The Complete Fifth Season (HBO, $39.98) brings us twelve more episodes of the hit HBO dramedy in a three-disc DVD collection. For those that have never seen Entourage, it starts out simple enough, with Vince Chase (Adrien Grenier) going from Queens, NY and heading to Hollywood to try to make it big as an actor, but he comes to Hollywood with a few friends, including Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), Eric (Kevin Connelly) and brother Drama (Kevin Dillon). Together, they form his "entourage" that helps him try to make it big in Hollywood, and he definitely needs that entourage because as he finds out, making it in Hollywood isn't as easy as it may look. The series is loosely based upon the life of Mark Wahlberg, and how he struggled to make it as an actor in Hollywood.
The fifth season begins with the episode "Fantasy Island," where reviews begin to come in for the film that Vince was working on at the end of season four--and they aren't pretty. So he decides to hide out in Mexico for a while. Vince develops some insecurity about himself when a former girlfriend gives him up to another girl in "Unlike a Virgin." Vince is desperate for money and will do anything to get it in "The All Out Fall Out." Fran Drescher makes a guest appearance. Ari sees Vince getting another break in "Fire Sale," but in the meantime, Drama is going to make a guest appearance on The View. Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Sherri Shepherd, and Whoopi Goldberg all play their respective roles. Vince has to make a big decision about his career in "Tree Trippers," so why not head to a National Park to think about it? How low can Turtle go? Low enough to be an assistant to a C-list actor, Drama to be specific, in "Redemption."
Vince gets to do a fashion shoot with a supermodel in "Gotta Look Up to Get Down." Turtle is flying first-class, and on top of that, next to Jamie-Lynn Sigler, in "First Class Jerk." It is showtime for Vince, well at least showtime to start his new film, in "Pie." Seth Green appears as himself (and Eric's arch nemesis) in "Seth Green Day." There is a bit of disagreement on the set of Vince's newest film in "Play'n With Fire." Finally, season five ends with "Return to Queens Blvd.," where the guys return home to New York City, and get some advice and ideas before they head back to their new home in Hollywood.
The packaging is the fairly standard digipak that has been used for all previous Entourage releases, although just like season 4, it isn't as fancy of a digipak as what was used before. Still, it does the job and has very nice and professional artwork. Inside, we have the three discs, with the series logo on a plain black background. There are four episodes on each disc.
The menus on the set are very nicely done, but a little involve when it comes to navigating them. The main menu has music and videos from the episodes playing, and gives options of Episode Index, Languages, and Special Features. When you select Episode Index, you get a list of episodes, as well as a Play All option. When you select an episode, you get a screen that has an episode snapshot, a lengthy description, and options to show a recap of the previous episode, a preview of the episode you are about to watch, and an option to play the episode. There are no scene selection menus, but chapters are scattered throughout each episode at reasonable places (remember, as this is a premium cable series, there are no commercial break points).
The video and audio quality on this set is, to the say the least, superb. HBO never really sacrifices much on quality, and this set is a good example of that. The video and audio are very clear, with the video being presented in the original aspect ratio (16:9) and audio being presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. There are also French and Spanish audio tracks, as well as English, Spanish, and French subtitles on the set. And furthermore, the episodes are all closed-captioned. They have literally covered every corner! The episodes are most definitely unedited, with each episode running around 28 minutes (which, by the way, suggests that the edits for this series in syndication will be incredibly painful).
For those that have never seen the series before, you can get to know the series and find out what you have missed out on in the previous seasons by checking out the season recap on Disc 1. There is a recap for each season that tells all of the major events of each season of the series. Each season recap runs about a minute and 30 seconds, although there are actually two separate recaps for season 3 (season 3 was a longer than normal season). There are also previews for each individual episode on the set. There are three episodes on the set with audio commentaries, with all of them being from the four main cast members as well as producer Ally Musika. They are very fun and interesting to listen to, as they are very candid and obviously have a very fresh memory of these episodes. They really do seem to enjoy doing the series, which is a lot like the way that the guys are supposed to appear on the show--enjoying being in Hollywood with Vince. The commentaries can be found on "Tree Trippers," "Play'n With Fire," and "Return to Queens Blvd." Finally, on Disc 3, there is "The Celebrity Factor" (9:39), where the producers and actors talk about all of the guest stars that the series attracts. There are way too many to list all of them, but many of them make cameo appearances (or sometimes more prominent ones) as themselves on the series to give the series the real feeling of being in Hollywood rather than looking like some scripted series with fake famous celebrities. You never know who is going to show up on any given episode.
Honestly, I think that this is the best season yet of the series, and those that have never seen the series that believe that they may be interested in it may want to start here. By now, the characters and plots have been developed fairly well, and the series has hit a very strong point. Could it get stronger from here? Absolutely, but these are the best episodes that I have seen of the series so far. I remember watching the first season and having trouble figuring out what was so great about the series, but I can see how it has grown and developed now into what is one of the best series on television. Premium cable programming has gotten very impressive lately, and this is a great example of why that is.
-- Reviewed by skees53
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