Californication: The Fifth Season
You can't teach old dogs new tricks. So, if you expected Hank Moody to follow a trajectory that was even remotely different from the last four seasons of Showtime's Californication, forget it. In season five, perennially troubled Hank (David Duchovny) returns to Los Angeles for a screenwriting gig and retraces the dark spiral of sex, chaos and despair that most of his professional pursuits have followed. This time, the writer gets entangled with rapper Samurai Apocalypse (RZA), for whom Hank agrees to pen a television show. It leads to some entertaining exploits — mainly involving Samurai's girlfriend — but, as always, the tension in this series revolves around his long-time love, Karen (Natascha McElhone), and daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin). After returning from NYC, where he led a seemingly peaceful life (albeit with a nymphomaniac), Hank finds Karen happily settled with Richard Bates (Jason Beghe), white picket fence and all. But this time around, it's not his baby mama's man Hank has a problem with; it's Becca's new boyfriend, Tyler (Scott Michael Foster). As he fights (literally) to come to terms with the relationship, Hank's life is thrown into turmoil when dalliances with Samurai's girlfriend, Kali (Meagan Good), threaten to come to light. Watch out, Moody: they don't call him Samurai for nothing. The most interesting storyline in the fifth season is Hank's relationship with loyal agent Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler), which, for the first time, is pushed to its limits. Well-intentioned Charlie has his fair share of trouble with a fresh-faced babysitter intent on making it in Hollywood while breaking his heart, but that doesn't stop him from looking out for his BFF. That is, until Becca's surprisingly talented boyfriend, keen on making his mark as a writer, makes Charlie an offer he just can't refuse. With all this drama, you'd think we'd see some tangible changes in our forlorn writer, but despite glimmers of hope, Hank remains as static a character as ever and we're reminded that, five seasons in, there's really no moving forward with Californication; it's the same vulgar, roundabout show you hate-watch because, once upon a time, Hank Moody had some swag. Special features of the season five DVDs include two episodes of Showtime's House of Lies, The Borgias and Dexter, unlocked on your PC. Ultimately, Californication does what it does best (sex), but if you're looking for something more than blatant misogyny and the occasional bon mot from a washed-up writer, better look elsewhere.
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