Please consider this a joint Deadwood, Entourage post.
So, after last week's Deadwood, I was a little nervous - had the show lost its edge? It felt like a set-up episode and it was nowhere near as strong as "A Lie Agreed Upon," which kicked off season 2. My fears were totally allayed by this ep - strong characterization, humor, advancement of the plot, intrigue - everything an episode of Deadwood should have and I was reminded of why I think this is hands down, the best show on television. At Kate's wedding, her co-worker Matt and I stood around talking about the greatness of Deadwood and I am fully prepared again to throw my allegiance behind it.
I love the addition of Gerald McRaney (Major Dad) as Hearst - the new camp villain. I was completely taken by surprise when his sidekick Captain Turner grabbed Al from behind and Hearst stapped Al in the hand with a hammer!!! Unbelievable! And what did I love more than that? Bullock offering to go up and "finish the cocksucker off" right then and there. Who would have thought last March that we would see a Bullock/Swearengen alliance?
As always, we can count on Charlie Utter to spell out the episode's theme. The ep was called "I'm Not the Fine Man You Take Me For." While Charlie and Joanie stand outside the Ellsworth house, Charlie listen to Joanie beat up on herself and recounts how, despite the fact that Wild Bill was his dearest friend with a true and kind spirit, Bill himself had a tendency to believe he was a bad person. I found this scene especially touching, if only because of a) the closeness with which Charlie still carries Bill's memory and b) because I know I myself have had similar conversations with friends. Tonight, some of the people of Deadwood with good hearts doubt themselves (except for Sol Star who is adorable as ever). And I liked how Jane's story about the alleged hero Custer plays into this theme as well.
There is a flip side to the episode's title as well - George Hearst may have seemd innocuous at the end of last season and the premier last week, but he is most certainly not the fine man we might have taken him for. I am really looking forward to seeing how this unravels.
And can I admit something somewhat shameful? I am so pleased that Bullock is being a little less of a tool this season. And good work to Timothy Olyphant for managing to show that while he has committed himself to his wife, Bullock has not lost his love for the widow Alma. The scene where Bullock asked Charlie to watch over the Ellsworth house and find out how Alma does in surgery - surprisingly touching.
On to Entourage. While Deadwood may be the best rounded show, Entourage is decidedly the most fun to watch. Loved the references to Almost Famous, and as ever, Johnny Drama made me laugh out loud more than once. I love how this show manages to make you root for people with whom you have nothing in common. Vince continues to grow on me, and I am always secretly touched by how Vince and Eric's friendship reminds me of Kate and myself (as for who is E and who is Vince, it changes every episode). And while Ari is a scene stealer and I love him, I really don't think this show would be half of what it is without Kevin Dillon's Johnny Drama. A review I once read pointed out that he clearly bring a little self-knowledge to the role considering he is Matt Dillon's less famous brother.
HBO, you are my summertime television savior. Thank you.