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'Entourage' scores a rare hole-in-one

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After a string of weak episodes, Entourage made the most of its male-bonding this week by adding some males that helped make the half-hour funny. Mark Wahlberg (one of the series’ key producers) guest-starred as a golf partner with Vince and Johnny Drama at a charity event, Jeffrey Tambor played a profane version of himself as Ari’s putting partner, and George Segal did a fine turn as a tough-old-bird agent who wanted to hire Eric.

Together with Tom Brady, along for the ride as himself, all of the guys combined for lots of laughs at the expense of preening male ego. Marky Mark was particularly charming, laid-back in demeanor yet aggressive in teasing the always-boasting Johnny (“We believe you, Ripley,” he said in response to one of Johnny’s outlandish claims). Tambor was terrifically cynical, easily out-Ariing Ari with insults like, “Who are you to judge me, agent-scum?” And Segal looked to be doing a cross between Milton Berle and Carl Reiner as seen-it-all agent Murray Berensen. (Loved the detail that his first client was George Lazenby, “the bad James Bond.”)

Because of the golf-charity plot, we got a week’s respite from Entourage‘s most vexing current problems: how to wring more humor from Vince’s success, Turtle’s career yearnings, and E’s career changes. Actually, E’s job offer from George Segal’s character, though a small part of the half-hour, was promising. I’d love to watch these two characters, two generations of show biz, interact more.

And if Mark Wahlberg would show up every week, Entourage’s humor would increase exponentially. Sometimes the original model remains as good or better than the next version. In any case, if Entourage would remain as funny and fast-paced as it was this week, as Segal’s agent says, I’d be utopic.

Did you watch? What did you think?

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