Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Californication - or, as I call it David Duchovny having sex - Season 1

So, the day was about a week ago, and the time was, I had just finished catching up on Battlestar Galactica, and I needed to follow it with a show that went down easy, a dessert to follow the four course meal that Battlestar had been (with a 10 episode second part of the fourth course to follow in 2009). This meant a comedy, or at least something half hour long and billed as a comedy, and something relatively short. I took a look around at what I had on my computer on hand, and noted that at some point I had downloaded David Duchovny's latest opus, Californication, and that it was only 12 half hour episodes, so I figured why not, I'd been missing my last dose of Duchovny ever since Connie and Carla finished (Note: I did not actually watch Connie and Carla. Please don't quiz me on it).

My expectations were for something passable - not for something great, but for something that at least makes me want to continue watching it, and that's pretty much what I got, and if that sounds like a bad thing, it's really not - not every show can be Arrested Development.

Really, Californication is more a comedy in the way that Entourage is a comedy - there aren't really jokes, and it's not really laugh out loud funny - it's more of a light hearted drama (is that what a Dramady is? In my mind, the two foremost examples of dramady were always Ally McBeal and Sports Night, but I'm not sure why). The first episode didn't exactly draw me in - David Duchovny plays Hank Moody, kind of an asshole-with-a-heart-of-if-not-gold-then-silver who wants to live in his own idiosyncranic way. This Moody is also a writer who wrote a fantastically successful novel which was turned into a fantastically commercially successful movie adaptation which he thinks is crap, and hasn't written a word in the five years since, when he moved to LA from NY to work on the movie. Oh, and also he's separated from the woman he had been with for at least 12 years and has a daughter with, and this woman is engaged to a man who stands for everything Moody hates, and also has a teenage daughter who Moody (first episode spoiler alert) accidentally sleeps with in the first episode (well, not accidentally the sleeping with more, more accidentally in that he was unaware that she was a teen, let alone the teenage daughter of his ex's fiance). So there's your plot summary. And basically in the last sentence, we get a running theme in the show which I prefaced atop my entry - David Duchovny having sex. Though I didn't count, this pretty much happens in every episode, with different women in each episode. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing, but if you're into that kind of thing (David Duchovny having sex, that is) I thought I ought to make a point of it. That, and also "David Duchovny having sex" (or "Hank Moody having sex" if we want to stay in character) would be a more straightforward title.

The other main characters are his agent and friend portrayed by Evan Handler, who seems to be popping up everywhere these days and was due to land a main role sooner or later - he had recurring parts in Sex and the City and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, guest apperances in Lost and 24, and well, a starring role in the short lived and quickly forgotten "It's Like, You Know" which was once billed as LA's answer to Seinfeld. His story arcs tend to focus on his relationship with his wife and with his hot goth suicide chick secretary.

With exceptions, most shows live up to the sum of their parts and premises, and you can pretty much tell everything you need to know about the show from what I've already written. Hank Moody don't take no advice from no one and lives on his own terms - he often makes inapproriate outbursts, but at the same time has the courage to take on challenges that people living in the "normal" world wouldn't dare broach. He's kind of a jerk, but you root for him anyway, part because a lot of the other characters are just tools, including most of all his ex's fiance, who doesn't do too much in the storyline explicitly bad, but is still pretty much a tool, and partly because Moody's the main character, and well, if you didn't root for him, it would make the show pretty hard to watch.

He's pretty much the show - the other characters are fine, supporting, but couldn't stand on their own. He deals with the idiosyrancities (yeah, I know I used this word twice. Deal with it) of what a strange place to live LA is, and tries to win back his ex, all while sleeping with as many people as he can. Basically what it comes down to is the show is not a can't miss by any means - unlike The Wire (obviously about as different a genre as it can get) which I tell everyone I meet, even in the urinal next to me in bathrooms to watch, I won't be pushing Californication, but by the time I watched a few episodes, I actually wanted to watch the rest, to the conclusion of the season, and really, that's not at all a bad thing.


waldinho said...


AndrewEberle said...

As you know, I really enjoyed Californication. Maybe I just miss those days when I got laid all the time??? Sports Night is one of the great shows of all time, and Jesse's pic_01 scares the hell out of me.