- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 7, 2006

‘Entourage’ returns

Will success spoil Vincent Chase?

The better question is, can HBO’s “Entourage” sustain the giddy male bonding of its first two seasons?

The answer, gladly, is yes. Just be patient enough to sit through this weekend’s third season premiere.

The boys are back, and they’re anxiously awaiting the premiere of “Aquaman,” the film that could catapult Vince (Adrian Grenier, the hunkier version of Monkee Micky Dolenz) into the stratosphere. It’s a can’t-miss smash, what with the comic book’s built-in audience and director James Cameron’s gaudy track record.

But who will Vince take to opening night?


Sunday’s season-three premiere (airing at 10 p.m.) feels like a show running on fumes.We’ve got the annoying guest appearances (this time by James Woods) and the “Entourage’s” foursome lacks the usual snap. Much, much better is the second episode, with the boys suffering through Los Angeles’ rolling blackouts, which could affect the box-office tally for “Aquaman”— and Vince’s rising clout.

Despite the season’s slow start, “Entourage” is the proverbial critics’ darling and may yet become the male equivalent to “Sex and the City.”

Though Mr. Grenier is all too believable as the nonchalant star, Kevin Dillon’s inspired work as Johnny Drama remains the comic centerpiece. His kvetching over the Valley’s heat wave in the new season’s second episode makes us forget all about Vince and the rest of the crew. And whenever Drama recedes into the backdrop, there’s Jeremy Piven to pick up the slack as Ari, the former superagent who tumbled from his throne late last season.

The easy camaraderie among the regulars remains the show’s strongest suit, but a less obvious reason why “Entourage” clicks is how it allows us to see Hollywood from the perspective of four innocents.

Of course, if “Aquaman” is the next Spider-Man, that innocence could go the way of Hula-Hoops and 3-D glasses.

Un-‘Lucky’ viewers

Although taking great pains to reinvent the television comedy — and scoring success with the aforementioned “Entourage” and groundbreaking “Sex and the City” — HBO takes a giant step backward with its new “Lucky Louie.”

The series looks alarmingly like any broadcast sitcom, right down to the aggravating laugh track. The biggest difference? The buckets of profanity and sexual material.

The first episode, debuting Sunday evening in the 10:30 slot (following the season premiere of “Entourage”) only hints at how low “LL” can go by dragging the “Married … With Children” slob formula through the gutter.

The titular Louie (stand-up comic Louie C.K., who also created the series) is a blue-collar working stiff barely getting by with his wife (Pamela Adlon, who supplies the voice of Bobby on Fox’s “King of the Hill”) and young daughter.

Sunday’s premiere finds Louie’s wife catching him in a moment of self-pleasure, which awkwardly leads to her promising him all the sex he could possibly want. She isn’t being supportive — she wants another baby and figures she can exploit his embarrassment.

He argues they’re too broke for another child, the one novel element in the series so far.

From there it’s near-constant sex talk, poor line deliveries by both Louie and his pal Rich (played by Jim Norton) and nary a laugh.

“Lucky Louie” calls to mind “1st & Ten,” HBO’s first attempt at an original episodic comedy. The show (1984-1990) centered on a fictional California football team and gleefully included a nude woman in every other episode to justify its pay-cable freedoms, but it rarely bothered to inject much more into the mix.

Generic ‘Windfall’

Ever wonder how someone’s life changes after winning the lottery?

“Windfall,” NBC’s new summer replacement series, answers that question times 20. The hourlong drama follows a group of 20 persons who become instant millionaires after chipping in on a lottery ticket.

Tonight’s debut (airing at 10 in “ER’s” time slot) trots out all the obvious reactions from the winners. One races directly to a car dealership to replace her broken-down wheels; another storms out of his house, hands extended in victory.

Yet what “Windfall” lacks so far are the quieter moments, the small but telling signs that this group of 20 will never be the same again.

The crowded cast is filled with semifamiliar faces assembled from both big hits and failed projects, including Luke Perry (“Beverly Hills, 90210”), D.J. Cotrona (“Skin”) and Jon Foster (“Life as We Know It”).

We’re already tired of Jason Gedrick’s character, a professor who strings along both his wife and longtime girlfriend before and after the big news hits.

Meanwhile, a hodgepodge of story lines assaults the senses. In the first hour alone, we’re bombarded with Russian mail-order brides, infidelity and a pizza delivery girl who, though ostensibly poor, dresses as if she came out of a salon instead of a trailer park.

“Windfall” — which according to Zap2it.com, was developed at Fox before landing at NBC — could find its footing in the weeks to come if it reaches deeper into the lives of its insta-millionaires. Don’t bet the milk money on it.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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