Californication: The Third Season

Californication: The Third Season
For two seasons, David Duchovny's weird, art-imitating-life-imitating-art dramedy, Californication, walked a thin line between clever self-parody and self-indulgent T&A fest. Key to this balancing act was the likeability of Duchovny's character, Hank Moody, a self-destructive novelist with writer's block desperate to win back the affections of Karen (played by Natascha McElhone), his soul mate and the mother of his child. Her rejection is largely the driving force behind the series and the source of whatever sympathy we're able to muster throughout the many, many scenes of Hank drinking and fucking. Third time out though, things with Karen are back on track, the only hitch being she's now working in NYC while Hank remains in L.A. with their teenaged daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin), which is why season three is so much harder to watch. While living on opposite coasts, Hank and Karen are apparently allowed to pursue whatever frivolous relationships they want. Hank, now an interim English professor, takes full advantage, sleeping with his TA, Jill, his student Jackie, who also moonlights as a stripper, and Felicia, the dean's wife, who also happens to be the mother of Becca's best friend. Interspersed in between Hank's rather graphic indiscretions, his agent, Charlie (Evan Handler), who's in the middle of a divorce from wife Marcie (who's banging Charlie's client, Rick Springfield), starts sleeping with his new boss, played by a very dirty Kathleen Turner. What this leads to is a lack of balance in the show. It's difficult to watch 30 minutes of middle-aged men sleeping with 20something women while wearing shit-eating grins. Californication's appeal rests on the amiability of Hank and for the show's first two seasons he's not that difficult to like; Hank's behaviour, which certainly leaves a wake of destruction in its path, really only hurts him. But now, with a teenager at home, there's tangible collateral damage to his actions. Things eventually balance themselves out in the season's second-half, but the bitter taste from the first six episodes, coupled with a cliff-hanger season ender that stems from a first season decision, leaves you feeling as if the show is running on empty. Extras include a pretty standard blooper reel, cast bios and photo gallery, as well as a weird and very brief feature called "Marcie's Pajama Party," where actress Pamela Adlon plays host to a group of divorcés. Maybe this is how the producers thought they could balance out the show's overtly male focus? (Paramount)