It's one of those inevitable facts of television-watching life that increased expectation means you will probably be disappointed by the final ever episode - the grand finale, if you will - of your favourite shows. Just look at Lost: there was no chance that a single episode could resolve all the outstanding questions and plotlines at the end of the final season.*
The result was a finale which disappointed most people who watched it and ended up at the top of UGO.com's list of 25 Insane TV Series Finales (That Completely Ruined the Show).
I was thinking about this on Wednesday night as I watched the final episode of Entourage. Was it fair to have lofty expectations for the Entourage finale? Would anyone be disappointed in how it finished? And how would it be remembered a year from now?
Entourage has always been a vapid show, offering little in the way of challenging narratives that made you think about more than what was happening in front of you, but then it never aspired to that. You could make the case that Entourage was just a show about four guys in Hollywood, maybe making a statement on the power of friendship and loyalty - nothing more, nothing less.
The truth is, that's the way fans of the show seemed to like it. While I had trouble getting attached to the show because I was looking for something more than what it was offering (possibly because of the fact that it was on HBO, a network known for shows like The Sopranos and The Wire), enjoying episodes here and there before watching regularly when the seventh series started on TV2 a few months back, fans of the show seemed to like that you could watch it without having to think too much about it.
Wednesday's finale was more of the same: with Turtle and Drama sorted after last week's penultimate episode, in which Vince revealed that he'd kept the tequila shares (making Turtle a millionaire) and had negotiated a deal to get Drama back on TV, all that remained was for Ari, E and Vince himself to get things in order.
In true Entourage fashion, it all happened too easily - Vince is marrying journalist Sophia (who he only met a few episodes ago) after a 24-hour date that happened entirely off-screen, Ari is reunited with his wife after quitting his job at the agency and serenading her with an up-and-coming opera group, and E manages to get Sloan back ... umm, somehow. I'm not really sure what happened. Vince must be a reeeeeeally convincing guy.
Still, I loved the final two seasons - and it's hard to be disappointed in that finale: Entourage is what it is, and the guys took off into the sunset in a way that stayed true to the spirit of the show.
As far as legacy goes, Entourage can boast Ari Gold, who might be one the five greatest television characters of the last 10 years - Jeremy Piven was perfectly cast and nailed the role. But beyond Ari, there isn't really anything else that will keep the show in the long-term pop culture consciousness. Piven aside, the cast was good but not great. The show itself wasn't ground-breaking in any way (unless you count the obscene number of guest stars). Even the finale wasn't bad enough to make a list of the worst finales ever.
The finale seems like a momentous occasion right now, but it likely won't be remembered as a momentous occasion in a year. The only hope it has for extended relevance is that rumours of an Entourage movie come true**.
But hey, not every show needs a legacy - Doug Ellin and the Entourage team should be happy that they made it through eight seasons and avoided a finale that completely ruined their show. Most people would call that a success.
What did you think of the Entourage finale, whether you saw it back in September or just this week on TV2? What do you think of the show overall? Do you think it will be remembered in a year or two (or five)?
(*) I'm the biggest Lost fan I know and my disappointment in the final season is so immense that I'm scared to even go there, just in case it results in a 25,000-word blog post and/or extensive psycho-therapy.
(**) The episode certainly tried to set that up, leaving the fate of E and Sloan open, and having Ari receive an offer he might not be able to refuse soon after the credits. But even those stories aren't really enough to get people into a movie theatre.
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