7/29/2015

Getting the Poison Out: The End of 'Californication'

Thanks to Netflix, and a year after everyone else—anyone who was still watching, that is—we’ve managed to settle the unfinished business we had with Californication, mainly to play catch up with seasons 6 and 7. As it turns out, unfinished business is one of the major themes of the final season. That and how increasingly over-the-top and devoid of much resemblance to reality the show had become. Let’s face it: there are ladies’ men and then there’s Hank Moody (David Duchovny). And no 40-something writer, no matter how attractive, gets that much ass for free. Sure, he has that self-destructive, bad boy streak than many women find irresistible but it’s just too much in this case. It’s almost as if your suspended disbelief has to pause and get its bearings.

Season 6 is a ridiculous rock and roll journey almost redeemed by the luminous Maggie Grace (‘Lost’) and a bonafide rock legend: Sex Pistol Steve Jones. But “almost” is the key word here since the plot lines are as atrocious as the bad accents and scenery chewing by most of the guest stars, not to mention the least accurate rock star-types seen this side of a Amish after school special. (The likely concoction of someone who quite possibly may have confused This is Spinal Tap with an actual documentary.) Oh, and Hank's best friend and agent Charlie (Evan Handler) pretends to be gay so he can sign gay clients. Yes, the results are disastrous and not as funny as anyone might’ve hoped. And Rob Lowe as Eddie Nero is exhausting and not in a good way. Whew.

Season 7, as we mentioned before, revolves largely around loose ends: the end result of one particular instance of Hank’s past sexual proclivities; Charlie and Marcy's (Pamela Adlon) marriage; and, of course, the on-again off again romance between Hank and Karen (Natascha McElhone). Their daughter Becca (Madeleine Martin), as always, represents the show’s emotional center and her appearances tend to imbue the proceedings with a bit of heft. But we don’t see much of her, since the show has veered too far off the silly end to employ Becca’s gravitas. Lowe as Nero makes a brief and unnecessary appearance but the guest star slot is redeemed by the return of Jones, as well as the welcome arrival of Michael Imperioli and Heather Graham. (The less said about her character's son Levon…)

Californication ends in a way that Hank Moody himself may have deemed lame: with a series of whimpering clichés that bear no relation to the lunacy of its previous episodes. As if someone in the show’s hierarchy finally had enough with the shenanigans and abruptly decided it was time to wrap it all up. Just like Hank, one assumes.

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