Let us now praise Maury Chaykin, who has enlivened the last two episodes of Entourage as the fantastically volcanic movie executive Harvey Weingard, a barely veiled take on the worst traits attributed to real-life studio boss Harvey Weinstein.
Chaykin does intimidation and barely contained rage about as well as anyone (if you can get your hands on the Nero Wolfe series he starred in for A&E a few years ago, do so), and his increasingly foul mood as Sunday’s episode wore on was just great to watch. From his exhortation to E to give a former employee an elbow in the head to his protracted battle with a waiter over cranberry juice, Chaykin had me pinned to the couch.
If only the rest of the episode had as much pull. Try as I might, I just can’t find ways to care too much this season about the not-so-difficult trials of Vinnie Chase and his boys. Though the show is still spot-on with many of its observations about life in the Hollywood jungle, and I still chuckle at some of the guys-being-guys stuff among the four leads, there just doesn’t seem to be all that much at stake anymore.
Vince and Eric joshing each other over whether E is scared of Harvey was kind of cute, but shouldn’t they actually be afraid of the guy a little bit? As played by Chaykin, Harvey is a guy who might actually be able to make good on a "You’ll never work again" threat. In a different show, the blustering boss might have actually been cause for concern even as he was being shown out of Winston’s. But does anyone really believe he’ll derail Vince’s career, or if he does, that it will have any kind of lasting effect?
I have a really hard time believing that now, especially given the teaser for next week in which Ari tells Vince that every studio in town wants him. The Harvey stuff, E’s ongoing battle with Walsh over Medellin — it just doesn’t feel like there’s any danger anymore. Even Vince’s occasional tendency toward self-sabotage has more or less disappeared.
So as far as conflict goes, we’re left with Drama’s attempts to get annexed into Beverly Hills (that’s two HBO series, Deadwood being the other, on which Stephen Tobolowsky has played a simpering politician) and Ari chasing up to Oxnard to retrieve his car so he can read M. Night Shyamalan’s latest script. And while I salute his willingness to goof on his control-freak reputation, I’m still not planning on seeing The Happening next year.
The things that work on Entourage is enough to keep me watching, at least for now; it captures how guys relate to one another about as well as anything on television now. But the Hollywood portion of the show is really starting to feel like a lot of actual big-studio product these days — things we’ve all seen before.