"CALIFORNICATION: THE SECOND SEASON"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
David Duchovney as HANK MOODY
Madeleine Martin as BECCA MOODY
Evan Handler as CHARLIE RUNKLE
Natascha McElhone as KAREN
Pamela Adlon as MARCY RUNKLE
Madeline Zima as MIA LEWIS
Callum Keith Rennie as LEW ASHBY
Studio: CBS Video
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In the second season of Showtime’s hit series “Californication,” Hank Moody (David Duchovney) is still trying to get his life back together and avoid bouts of binge drinking, drug use and promiscuous sex. He’s trying to make his relationship work with Karen (Natascha McElhone) and his daughter Becca (Madeleine Martin), but it’s not as easy as it looks. When he hooks up with music producer Lew Ashby (Callum Keith Rennie), he’s commissioned to write his biography, giving him some stable income with lots of partying.
WHAT I LIKED
Over the past few years, it seems that Showtime has become the new HBO. About ten years ago, HBO ruled the roost of premium cable with popular, edgy series like “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos.” Now, with only “True Blood” making noise at HBO, Showtime seems to have all the hits. “Californication” is in good company with shows like “Weeds,” “Dexter” and “The Tutors.”
Having missed the first season of “Californication,” I didn’t find it hard at all to get up to speed. The recaps bring the viewer in quickly, and it’s not hard to figure out the gist of the show, being Hank trying to fight against his many addictions. In this sense, the film gives a fair and not always pleasant look at Hank’s struggles in his life.
The writing, particular of the dialogue, in this show is simply brilliant. There are some excellent, saucy zingers in each episode, and they fit in well with perfect delivery by Duchovney. This guy has finally found something that might break him out of the Fox Mulder memory and give him something else in his TV legacy. Duchovney, while a total cad and scoundrel, has a definite likeability about him.
Rounding out the cast, and often providing a lighter and more quirky storyline, are the characters of Charlie and Marcy Runkle (Evan Handler and Pamela Adlon) as Hank’s agent and his wife. This season sees them swerve into funding a porno film and finally dealing with Marcy’s hungry nose, which has earned her the nickname “Cokey Smurf” from Hank. These characters are completely pathetic, but amazingly funny. They really make the show work and balance out the more moody storylines for Hank, if you’ll pardon the pun.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
“Californication” has a feel like an older improv show like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in terms of style, but it does not feel improvised at all. Still, it does have some missed opportunities by underplaying some scenes. Plus, to watch this series with any sort of love, you’re going to have to check some of your morals at the door. Sympathy comes hard to these characters, especially if you see all of their wounds are self-inflicted.
These aren’t necessarily complaints but cautions if you’re going to start watching.
Cokey Smurf actress Pamela Adlon lends her voice to some episode commentary in this season, and she also provides a tour of Marcy’s Waxing Salon business, which is set at a real-life waxing salon. If you’ve ever wanted to see what it was like for porno stars to get their naughty bits primped, here’s your chance.
There are also a series of cast interviews with most of the main stable, along with biographies and a photo gallery.
If you have an internet connection on your play-back device, you can also access Showtime’s web site and download the first two episodes of the series “The United States of Tara: Season 1” and “The Tudors: Season 3.”
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of morally ambiguous dramadies.