Californication, Take Two

Have to admit I was afraid to even watch season two of Californication (which returned last night and will be repeated this week on The Movie Network/Movie Central and Showtime). Not that I didn’t like season one–I loved it. I just worried that executive producer/creator Tom Kapinos put such a bow on it with that beautiful beginning, middle and end first season that I didn’t want to spoil it by unwrapping it again.
When we last saw Hank Moody (David Duchovny) he was speeding off in his one headlight Porsche, his beaming daughter Becca (Madeline Martin) beside him and her radiant mother, runaway bride Karen (Natascha McElhone) hopping into the backseat. It reminded me at the time of the ending of The Graduate, a frenzied getaway with a freeze frame on the happy family that seemed too perfect and yet just perfect at the same time.
Indeed, when we catch back up with Moody and Company, things quickly go off the rails, not just for the characters, but for the series. Before long, there is an incredibly contrived sexual screw up that leads to more heartache.
The series also seems driven to become the filthiest, dirtiest show ever in cable, especially in the shenanigans between Moody’s book agent Charlie (Evan Handler) and his horny little mate, Marcy (Pamela Adlon, also the voice of young Bobby in King Of The Hill). The booze, drugs and sex gets so out of hand (as does the language) you’ll swear you are watching some wittier-than-usual celebrity sex tape on YouPorn.
This, of course, ramps up comparisons to Duchovny’s at home predicament. As reported everywhere, the 48-year-old actor booked himself into a sexual addiction clinic this summer. If anything, despite his extended mid-life crisis, Hank Moody is more in control of his sexual urges than just about any other adult in the series. He just happens to be in the wrong city, thus deep in Californication.
There are, however, several reason to keep watching this season. One is the addition of Canadian Callum Keith Rennie as a sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roller who hooks up with Moody in prison (don’t ask) and later asks him to pen his autobiography.
The other good news is that Paula Marshall, who made an eye-opening sex cameo in season one (she and Hank get drunk, get it on and then both vomit), returns. Finally, there’s, as Rennie’s character states, the best damn dinner party ever by episodes four, where a bomb is dropped that should keep me hooked the rest of the season.
Californication remains as flawed and fascinating as its main character. The other reason to watch is Martin, an exceptional young actress who Duchovny praised as a “savant” when I spoke with him this July at press tour. Daddy’s little girl Becca gets a mini-Hank for a boyfriend this season, which is sweet and dangerous at the same time. They bear watching, and, I’m relieved to say, so does season two of this series.

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