Sunday, September 04, 2005

Two Punches

Last week's penultimate episodes of Entourage and The Comeback featured two punches. Tonight, in the season (and sadly, for The Comeback, it might be series) finales, we'll find out what sort of fall-out those punches will bring.

On Entourage, Ari overplayed his hand at the agency. Terrance, his "retired" partner and mentor, decided to come back to work. After spending several episodes courting Vince and making Ari very nervous, Terrance made his intentions clear. Ari asked for an extension on his contract. Terrance stonewalled. Ari decided to employ his own "nuclear option," by trying to gather agents whom he thought would be loyal to him, only to create his own Judas in Johnny Drama's super-vacuous agnet Adam. Once again, Terrance had the upper hand and Ari was left without a job, without a car, and -- most devistating for Ari -- without a phone. What did he have? Lloyd, his Michelle-Kwan-in-drag, loyal, and (it turns out) exceedingly competent assistant.

So, the Entourage punch? After he learned that he'd been stripped of the company car, Ari punched the parking garage wall as he waited for Lloyd to pick him up in Lloyd's The Fast and the Furious prop car. It was the ultimate symbolic act of futility and summed up nicely Ari's missteps in the episode. He took on an immovable force in Terrance and only ended up hurting himself.

Luckily, Lloyd was there to help pick up the pieces and, in doing so, negotiated a bit of a reprieve from Ari's constant stream of racist and homophobic comments. Lloyd's no dummy; Ari better thank his lucky stars that he has Lloyd. Especially when it comes to dealing with Vince, whom Ari will have to convince to stay on as a client while trying to talk him down from the edge of career suicide as he contemplates quitting the Cameron-directed Aquaman pic.

Oh, and Ari's going to have to deal with Shauna, Vince's hardnosed publicist played to perfection by Debi Mazar.

On The Comeback, it was the punch we'd all been waiting for and it was played to perfection. The network forced Tom and Paulie G to write Aunt Sassy into the B story on the latest episode of "Room and Bored," so it could be used as a promotion vehicle for Valerie's reality show, also called "The Comeback." The episode tag involved Aunt Sassy hopped up on diet pills and dressed as a giant cupcake, while taking a pratfall.

Little did everyone know that Valerie had suffered from severe scoliosis as a young girl, which was corrected with a steel rod in her spine. Thus, the pratfall posed a real danger of injury for Valerie. Nevertheless, she soldiered on.

Further complicating the situation, Paulie G, Valerie's nemesis, was left in charge of the show in the wake of Tom's mysterious "ulcer thing."

Valerie discussed her concerns with her husband Mark, who offered to go down to the set and punch Paulie G in his big, fat gut. While Valerie rightly assumed that Paulie G would be a tough customer to please, she insisted that Mark say away. No need for violence.

As Valerie filmed the tag, a beer-and-pizza binging Paulie G refused to provide any feedback. After three takes produced nothing but stone-faced indifference from Paulie G, Valerie decided to go for broke and do the pratfall on her back. It worked and she was not seriously injured. True to her oh-so-needy character, Valerie reached out to Paulie G and sought some sort of validation. She asked if he thought they got a good take, to which he coldly responded, "I liked the first one." This was more than even Valerie the consummate trooper could take. She started to cry and protest that she could have really hurt herself. Of course, Paulie G simply tried to pass it off as a joke.

Valerie dejectedly turned to walk away, but, then, WHAM! Valerie turned around and socked Paulie G in the gut. That beer and pizza he'd been stuffing in his pie hole during the entire shoot quickly found its way to the set floor. Valerie reciprocated, apparently sickened by the sight of another person's vomit.

It was a typically humiliating experience for Valerie, caught on tape and all. Still, who knew she had that punch in her?

I can only hope that the fall-out of both punches tonight will be as fun as the build-up and execution of each punch was.


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