'Entourage' is all grown up

ENTOURAGE episode 89 (season 8, episode 1): Scott ENTOURAGE episode 89 (season 8, episode 1): Scott Caan, Kevin Dillon, Jeremy Piven, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier. Photo Credit: HBO/Claudette Barius

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REVIEW

REASON TO WATCH: Eighth and final season.

WHEN/WHERE: Sunday at 10:30 p.m. on HBO

To shorthand this, think "Charlie Sheen." Vince's (Adrian Grenier) career and health have imploded after he goes on a coke-fueled bender at an Eminem party where a brawl landed him in the hospital, battered and bleeding. That pretty much killed a planned screen test for director Peter Berg, but a cop also produced a baggie of drugs. Meanwhile, Ari (Jeremy Piven) is on the outs with "Mrs. Ari" (Perrey Reeves); Terrance McQuewick (Malcolm McDowell) is demanding that "E" (Kevin Connolly) sign a pre-nup before he marries daughter Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui); Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) has lined up Mark Cuban to invest in the tequila brand he's pushing; and Drama (Kevin Dillon) has a prime- time animated gig -- something about gorillas and bananas.

WHAT SUNDAY'S ABOUT To shorthand this, don't think "Charlie Sheen." Vince spends three months drying out and emerges . . . Vince, again. That dark, shrouded, unshorn Mr. Hyde? Banished, replaced by someone eager to get his life and career back. He's even got an idea for a movie -- one so bad that even Lifetime wouldn't touch it -- but the boys keep their opinions to themselves. The Golds have effectively split, and so have Sloan and Eric, but . . . he and business partner Scott Lavin (Scott Caan) have not.

They've got their own management company now, and their own unique headaches, including Andrew Dice Clay, who's been pulled out of mothballs by Drama to voice a major character on "Johnny Bananas."

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MY SAY "The final season of 'Entourage' . . . " Let those words and their import sink in. Soon, no more sunshine or gleaming half-million-dollar toys on wheels; no more infantilized stars and their infantilized agent-enablers; no more Rex and his pink sweaters, or Ari and his operatic outbursts of hair-torching profanity. Everything has a date of expiration, especially a series -- perhaps the best on the subject -- that was all about an industry dedicated to the proposition of obsolescence. (Last summer's blockbuster? Forgotten and consigned to Netflix.) Hollywood's about renewal and amnesia; it's aggressively rooted in the present, disdainful of the past, and the same with "Entourage's" last lap. The series has wisely hit the reset button, because the seventh season story line had nowhere to go but to that peculiar form of hell Lindsay Lohan seems so familiar with. The result is sort of deja vu all over again; we've been here before, but there's pleasure in the return trip.

BOTTOM LINE "Entourage" is clarifying a moral message -- drugs will kill you, terrible behavior is terrible, and real friends are forever. It feels like a reassuring final season.

GRADE B+

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