TITLE: ENTOURAGE - THE COMPLETE EIGHTH SEASON (BLU-RAY DISC)
Release Date: June 12, 2012 (HBO Home Entertainment)
Color / 2011
Number of Discs: 2
Number of Episodes: 8
Running Time: 240 minutes
Runtime of Special Features: 29 minutes
Audio: English, French, and Spanish
Subtitles and Captions: English, French, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish Subtitles
Special Features: Hollywood Sunset: A Farewell to Entourage
Eight years of chasing dreams and partying perhaps a bit too hard come to an end with Entourage - The Complete Eighth Season. In 2004, we first met Vince, Eric, Drama, and Turtle as they came to Hollywood to live life in the fast lane and stumble (quite often). Over the course of eight seasons, it didn't seem that much was improving, and in fact, things were only getting worse for them at times, leading to a seventh season ending which brought Vince to an all-time low and landed him in rehab. Now, everybody is back once again for the final season, and final eight episodes of the series as they try once more to live the good life, and just maybe, they'll find it by the end of the series. But will they? If you haven't watched it on HBO, you can find out in Entourage - The Complete Eighth Season, on DVD and (as we are reviewing here) Blu-ray.
Vince returns home from rehab in the season premiere "Home Sweet Home," and is greeted by (not surprisingly) a huge party. Andrew Dice Clay and Johnny Galecki makes their first (of a few) appearances in this episode. Christian Slater guest stars in "Out with a Bang," where Vince turns his rehab story into a screenplay. Vince decides to help a producer whom he'd crossed paths with before (with not so desirable results) after meeting him at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in "One Last Shot," but things don't exactly go as planned. In "Whiz Kid," Vince and Turtle are forced to deal with the aftermath of the events of the previous episode (I won't spoil it for you!), and in the meantime, Vince has some concerns about taking a drug test. In "Motherf****r" (we've censored part of the title), it is time for Ari to face the truth once things begin to crash down. In "The Big Bang," Ari is in fear of an ugly divorce which looms ahead. Everything comes to an end with big changes ahead...or maybe not (I'm not going to spoil the ending)...in the final two episodes, "Second to Last" and "The End."
The episodes on the set appear to be unedited (as would be expected with an HBO series), and perhaps one of the most telling facts is the inclusion of Led Zeppelin's "Going to California" which plays over the closing credits on the final episode. I assumed it would be intact (it would kind of cast a shadow over the set if it wasn't), and indeed it was...and honestly, if you can get a Led Zeppelin song included in anything, then you are capable of licensing anything. Of course, as is with the case with most premium cable series, runtimes are all over the place. Runtimes are as follows:
1. "Home Sweet Home" (29:24)
2. "Out with a Bang" (25:25)
3. "One Last Shot" (30:03)
4. "Whiz Kid" (22:11)
5. "Motherf****r" (29:14)
6. "The Big Bang" (27:00)
7. "Second to Last" (29:10)
8. "The End" (30:18)
The packaging is the pretty standard digipak which HBO uses for all of their series (which is surprising considering that most other studios have basically abandoned them). On the cover, we have a cast photo of the back of all of the cast members with the sun setting in the background (it is very artistically meaningful, really), and on the back, we have a cast photo along with a brief description of the season. You'll also find a list of bonus features, a few episode snapshots, and a list of guest stars on the back. Inside, the three panel digipak has the same artwork on the front, a different cast photo on the back, and one panel which lists all of the episodes, along with writing and directing credits. There are two discs in the Blu-ray set, which just have a black background with the series logo and a listing of the episodes on the disc. Each disc contains four episodes.
We did not receive the DVD for review, so we can't exactly go into full details on the DVD packaging. However, it also comes in a digipak, and presumably, it is very similar to the Blu-ray.
Menu Design and Navigation:
Again, the menus don't leave me particularly impressed. Blu-rays can have great menus, but these are just mediocre. The main menu has a series of videos playing on a billboard while some music plays in the background. On the left-hand side of the screen, there is a "No Parking" sign which has another sign below it with options of Episodes, Languages, and Features. Selecting Episodes brings options of Play All and Episodes (again), and if you select Episodes a second time (they really should have thought about rewording this somehow), you can go through each episode, one by one, in place of the No Parking sign. Basically, you get a very brief description of the episode inside the sign, along with options of "Previously On," "Preview Episode," and "Play Episode." Each of the "Previously On" and "Preview Episode" features are exactly 32 seconds long. Chapters are placed throughout each episode.
The set does utilize the "seamless Blu-ray menus," which is a very nice feature to have. In other words, it doesn't matter which disc you have in the player. All of the available options for the entire set are on both discs, and if you select an episode on one disc while the other disc is in the player, you'll be prompted to insert that other disc to play the episode, and the episode will play immediately upon switching the discs.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality of this set is excellent, and for the most part, looks about as good as the series looks on HBO in high definition. While I haven't seen the DVDs of this season, I would imagine that they look fine as well...but this is definitely a better experience. The audio, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, is decent and sure to satisfy most fans.
Since this is technically an "international" set (it is actually region-free as many Blu-ray sets are), the episodes are all presented in two additional languages besides English (both French and Spanish), and there are subtitles in French, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish...oh, and before I get, there are ALSO English subtitles. Certainly, this set is ready to go for many people (not necessarily all though) worldwide.
I'm not sure what happened with the special features this time, but HBO really dropped the ball on this set with them this time. The final season of the series, where it all comes to the end, only has a single special feature, "Hollywood Sunset: A Farewell to Entourage" (28:33). This is a special which aired on HBO around the time of the series finale where the cast and the writers get together to talk about the series, from how it developed and how many of the members of the cast and crew were unemployed and felt just as downtrodden as their characters around the time the series started. Basically, we get a candid view of the series from the eyes of those involved with it, including (of course) Mark Wahlberg. It is sort of interesting to watch, but there is nothing particularly insightful in here.
If you were ever a fan of the series and plan to rewatch it again, these Blu-rays (or DVDs, should you choose those) are really about the best way to do it. The unfortunate reality of these premium cable series is that once the network is finished with them, the only reruns you'll get are randomly scheduled episodes for a few years after cancelation on the network where it originally aired, or heavily edited syndication reruns which really take all of the enjoyment out of the series. It really is a shame that they decided to put together such a barebones set for this season, because it truly is the last chance for them to do anything for the series...but at least we have the last eight episodes here with excellent quality video and audio.
There was some mixed criticism at the way this final season played out. Some fans think that it was a huge disappointment in how it ended, others were happy with how it ended. In any event, this likely isn't exactly the end of the characters, as a feature film is planned for the series (although the last I heard, they had "everything but a script" for it, which is a pretty significant necessity for a movie). In fact, the final episode was supposedly written the way it was written as a lead up to the film, so they couldn't really do anything too "final" in it. So as for what will happen next, who knows, but we won't be seeing it as an HBO series.
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 1/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 06/25/12
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