On ''Entourage,'' Vince's Chinese energy-drink advertisement provides a bigger payoff than Turtle's videogame tournament

By Charles Curtis
Updated January 13, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST
Entourage: Claudette Barius

”Entourage”: Vince gets lost in translation

Let’s think of this week’s videogame tournament and foreign-commercial shoot as a small break from the fast pace of Hollywood — a TV version of Lost in Translation, if you will. No cameos by big stars playing themselves (sadly, not every episode can feature a foul-mouthed, stoned Bob Saget). Aquaman was mostly put on hold. And the weekly spotlight finally found its way to Turtle.

The least hard-working man in showbiz got a chance to shine at the two things he does best — play Xbox and smoke pot. As Vince said, ”If only life came with a joystick, huh, Turtle?” He finally put himself to good use by trying to win the $10,000 prize in a Fight Night tournament and thus help maintain the boys’ carefree lifestyle. (They continue to hemorrhage money as the big Aquaman paycheck continues to elude them.) How far was Turtle willing to go to keep the status quo? When his buddies told him there was going to be drug testing at the tourney, he did what any athlete at the top of his game would do — find himself some clean urine. While I’m usually more fascinated by the Hollywood machinations among Ari, Eric, and Vince, a Turtle plotline that didn’t involve chasing tail was a fresh angle.

There were still the requisite Hollywood moments, beginning with Ari casually telling one of his company’s top agents to leave the meeting when she suggested Vince try a David E. Kelley pilot. Surprisingly (and I pointed this out last week), just as the Aquaman deal recedes, Ari has been getting calmer and even craftier. He used Sharon Stone (I didn’t know Aquaman had a blond-bombshell mom) as a bargaining chip to persuade James Cameron to travel all the way to Sundance in a few weeks to see Queens Boulevard.

The not-so-Hollywood moment was Vince’s ”Chinese Red Bull” commercial. I didn’t expect to see the minute-and-a-half-long spot in its entirety, but that was a neat little bonus for the fans. (I’m almost certain that a making-of documentary about the commercial will end up on the season 2 DVD set.) The highlight had to be Johnny’s cameo, with his trademark ”Hey, bro!” and wink. A half million dollars for a day’s work was never easier or funnier. ”Cha-ching,” indeed.

Unfortunately, I have to object to Vince’s scoring with the martial-arts expert (Bai Ling). Sure, it’s a given that all young actors get to sleep with whomever they want without having to try. But wouldn’t it be more creative and comedic if there was a woman in Hollywood who wasn’t head over heels for the young Mr. Chase? It nearly happened in the inaugural season when he almost lost out on a Britney Spears-like pop singer who wanted to keep her virgin image untainted. Imagine the possibilities, though: Vince says he’s not a relationship guy, but all of a sudden he falls in love with an unattainable young starlet — Scarlett Johansson would have been perfect if she hadn’t already made a cameo in season 1’s finale. Look, I’m not saying the character should do a complete 180. I just think it would be interesting to see Vince chase once in a while.

On the other hand, Vince’s potentially sappy moment with Eric outside of the Xbox tournament worked fine. Eric has been taking a whole lot of heat lately (his meeting with crazy Queens Boulevard producer Scott Wick didn’t help matters), and it was satisfying to hear Vince say that the Aquaman debacle wasn’t Eric’s fault. Eric is starting to understand how to play the Hollywood game and is toughening up. The old ”I gotta see Kristen tonight” Eric has become a guy who isn’t afraid to step up for Vince.

What do you think? Should Vince do more commercials? Are you rooting more and more for Eric to succeed? And would you prefer to see more inside-Hollywood stuff or more interaction among the boys?