Entourage: Curse of the sixth season?


Season five of “Entourage” ends next week, and the show has already been picked up for a sixth season. But there’s bad news. None of HBO’s hit shows have lived long enough to see a seventh season.

Neither “The Sopranos” nor “Sex in the City” moved onto season seven, and these two shows are arguably as good as, if not better than, “Entourage.”

It could be a curse. HBO doesn’t seem to know what to do with its iconic shows after they reach the six-year mark. But no need to worry, “Entourage” fans – if HBO follows a simple three-part formula, everything will be sunny (in California).

First, keep things fresh. Don’t let it get tired. No one wants to see a stale plot or characters.

It was a stroke of genius to end season four with the Hindenburg screening of “Medellin.” We’ve never seen Vinny Chase (Adrian Grenier) struggle before. It gave us a reason to tune in this season.

The new developments in Eric’s (Kevin Connolly) managing career are well played. The Murphy Group expanded briefly last year (remember drooling over Anna Faris?) but with the addition of Charlie (Bow Wow), we get more exploits to follow.

However, the writers can’t seem to make up their minds with what they want to do with Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven). First, he was going to be a studio head. Recently he’s been fighting with partner Barbara Miller (Beverly D’Angelo) and looks like he might strike out on his own. Give the writers the benefit of the doubt and wait. In the past, they’ve balanced tweaking the character a bit while still retaining the essence of possibly the best character on the show. Ari’s a jerk. We know that. We love that. But it wouldn’t hurt to put him in a new surrounding, with new people to harass and belittle.

Next, make sure we renew our all-access-pass to Hollywood.

We tune into “Entourage” because most of us don’t run into stars or models on a daily basis, live in a mansion or own a fleet of Aston Martins. And while the cameos won’t make or break the show, they do add a great touch to it. The guest appearances this season alone are a name-dropper’s wet dream. Mark Wahlberg, Phil Mickelson, Seth Green, Jaime-Lynn Sigler and Eric Roberts each worked perfectly into the script. The best cameo remains as Sigler’s (Meadow Soprano) mile-high episode.

At this point, the writers should know this is a man’s show. They need to keep targeting it that way. The more gorgeous women and sex scenes, the more likely the show is to hook that adolescent or even that 40-year-old man channel surfing on a Sunday night. Plus, they’ll keep their faithful viewers happy.

And let’s hope Vinny and the rest have a good travel agent. Some of the best episodes are the ones where we tag along for the vacation. The season-three Vegas jaunt when Connolly’s Eric rumbled with Seth Green and this season’s Winnebago outing to Joshua Tree were each welcomed diversions. A trip back to Queens is on the horizon for the last episode of season five.

Season finales flop when nothing happens. And with a poor finale, fewer viewers make the jump to the next season. But so far “Entourage” hasn’t had that problem.

The season finales have been hands-down terrific, all ending with a bang. We’ve already talked about season four’s finale, where “Medellin” went down in smoke, but season three ended with a bombshell, too; Vinny fired Ari. Did you really expect Vinny to walk out on Miller-Gold like that? I didn’t.

HBO, keep up the good work. Surprise us and give us a reason to watch next year.

It doesn’t have to be “Lost”-esque and leave us wondering, “is it my imagination or did the world just end?” But it should definitely carry us and the momentum into next season.

E-mail Chad Smith at [email protected]