TITLE: ENTOURAGE - THE COMPLETE SEVENTH SEASON (BLU-RAY)
Release Date: July 12, 2011 (HBO Home Entertainment)
Color / 2010
Number of Discs: 2
Number of Episodes: 10
Running Time: 285 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: Approx. 20 minutes
Audio: English, French, and Spanish
Subtitles and Captions: English, French, Spanish, Norwegian, and Swedish Subtitles
Special Features: Commentaries (3 episodes); Inside the Hollywood Highlife behind-the-scenes featurette; Shades of Sasha Grey interview featurette
Changes are in the horizon for all in Entourage - The Complete Seventh Season, HBO's latest release of the series containing the ten episodes from the 2010 season of the hit series. As Vince, Eric, Drama, and Turtle continue to try to ride the wave of success in Hollywood, an accident during filming his latest action flick causes Vince to begin reassessing his life. And the rest of the guys are off to find their own way in Hollywood, some finding unexpected success in places where they never found it before. You can see it all in Entourage - The Complete Seventh Season, on DVD and Blu-ray.
The season begins with changes for Vince in "Stunted," where Vince is asked to perform a dangerous stunt... which turns out to have some serious consequences for him. The whole incident causes a public relations crisis that he must deal with in "Buzzed." Drama may have a new role in a sitcom (one he scoffs at) in "Dramedy." John Stamos comes to visit, and Turtle considers a south-of-the-border pitch in "Tequila Sunrise." In "Bottoms Up," Vince's latest hookup is porn star Sasha Grey; meanwhile, Ari is busy trying to keep Liz from stealing his clients. Jessica Simpson, Aaron Sorkin, and John Stamos all guest star.
Vince puts his latest move in jeopardy with a risque online video in "Hair." In "Tequila and Coke," Vince's late night partying might jeopardize an important meeting. There is real concern that the Hollywood lifestyle is causing Vince to spin out of control in "Sniff Sniff Gang Bang." Vince wants Sasha to have a part in his move in "Porn Scenes from an Italian Restaurant." The season ends with "Lose Yourself," where it is time for the guys to do what has been in the making all season: an intervention for Vince. Eminem guest stars.
I highly doubt that HBO would have cut anything from these episodes, but you can judge for yourself from the runtimes (which the variation is normal for premium cable series):
1. Stunted (26:05)
2. Buzzed (25:49)
3. Dramedy (28:37)
4. Tequila Sunrise (29:24)
5. Bottoms Up (28:05)
6. Hair (28:48)
7. Tequila and Coke (27:38)
8. Sniff Sniff Gang Bang (29:36)
9. Porn Scenes from an Italian Restaurant (27:50)
10. Lose Yourself (31:51)
The Blu-ray packaging is similar to many of the recent seasons, which means, of course, it isn't the nice "hard cardboard" packaging like the earlier seasons, but instead comes in a standard digipack (you really don't see those much anymore). The DVD (which we did not receive a review copy of) comes in the same style of packaging. The cover art has a cast photo, and there is another cast photo on the back, along with several episode snapshots and a listing of all of the guest stars and special features. Inside, the digipack just has some of the same artwork, with one of the panels including a listing of all of the episodes on each disc, along with writing and directing credits. The disc artwork is just the series logo on a maroon colored background. All of the episode titles are printed on the disc. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-5, while Disc 2 contains episodes 6-10 and the special features.
Menu Design and Navigation:
To me, HBO doesn't seem to be making full use of the capabilities of the Blu-ray Disc menus, but that doesn't mean there is a problem. They are just too similar to the previous DVD menus of the series (while many series have much different menus for Blu-ray sets). The main menu just has some instrumental music playing in the background, with a "No Parking" sign that has another sign below it that lists options for Episodes, Languages, and Features. There are video clips from the episodes playing in a billboard next to the sign. When you select any of the options, your choice pops up in the "No Parking" sign. Episodes will give you a choice of Play All or Episodes. By selecting Episodes, you can see each of the episodes listed one by one, with a brief description for each episode, and a recap for the previous episode that you can watch (these are all 32 seconds a piece). Every episode can be accessed from the menu on either disc; if you choose to play an episode that is not on the disc currently inserted, you'll be prompted to change discs, and the episode that you want will play immediately upon inserting the disc. Chapters are placed throughout each episode at many points.
Video and Audio Quality:
I tried very hard to find something to nitpick on with the video and audio, and it is pretty hard to do. It is essentially flawless, which is (and this is a positive) becoming increasingly common with current series on Blu-ray. They often look exactly as they do on HD on television. The DVDs for this set have had great video quality (although the first season did use pan-and-scan rather than widescreen), and the Blu-ray format only improves upon that. The audio is very loud and clear, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Sure, they could have gone with 7.1, but it is kind of useless since many people probably don't have that kind of setup. They even included a French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track, but for Spanish, they went with Dolby Digital 2.0. But we're assuming most people are interested in the English audio track anyway. Of course, this being a Blu-ray, closed-captions aren't even possible through HDMI, but the set is subtitled, with many different languages: English, French, Spanish, Norwegian, and Swedish. Lots of opportunities to learn new languages here if you plan to visit Norway and Sweden!
Like all of the previous Entourage releases, don't get your hopes up for too much here. That isn't to say the set is totally neglected. There are a few. It just isn't enough to measure up to the series. There are commentary tracks on the episodes "Hair," "Porn Scenes from an Italian Restaurant," and "Lose Yourself" from creator/executive producer Doug Ellin, executive producer Ally Musika, Jeremy Piven, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara, and Adrian Greenier. The commentaries aren't too bad to listen to, but they aren't too great either. It is really kind of surprising, considering that so many people involved with the show were included in these.
In "Inside the Hollywood Highlife" (13:40), we get to take a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the seventh season. I found this to be a bit more insightful and interesting than the commentaries. In here, we have interviews with the cast and the crew that are much more structured than the commentaries, which in this case is a little better.
Finally, "Shades of Sasha Grey" (5:46) is a special feature where we get to meet porn star Sasha Grey, who has a role in this season after Vince hooks up with her. I think it is safe to say that an interview with a porn star is a first for a DVD release review for us, but don't worry, there is nothing "revealing" here.
This season is a little bit different than some of the previous ones, but I don't have any complaints about the quality of the season, really (although some people do). The eighth season (which starts in a little over a week) is the end of the series, so it definitely needed to begin working on changes to push it towards the end, so to speak. It is kind of interesting to see how much Vince has changed in this season, and it leads one to wonder where the final season will go. It just wouldn't be right for the series to go out exactly as it started. I think it is also important to watch this series on DVD or Blu-ray as opposed to watching the episodes in syndication. The episodes that air on basic cable and syndication are atrocious, and barely even the same series with the heavy editing that occurs. I can't even watch them personally, and I don't think any real fan does, which is probably why the series has been a complete failure in syndication.
As for the quality of the Blu-ray set itself, it is fantastic, though it is pretty skimpy on the special features. Unfortunately, that has been common for the Entourage releases. I haven't seen the DVD release, but if you don't have a Blu-ray player, you probably won't be too disappointed going with the DVD, because the DVD releases have been pretty good as well (and you aren't really getting any extra features with this Blu-ray), but if you have a Blu-ray player, you'll definitely want to pay the little bit extra amount of money for it.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 2/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 07/14/11
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