Californication: Season 1 (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
FIRST things first, Californication, the raunchy comedy starring David Duchovny as a best-selling author and sexual misfit, was one of the outstanding television shows of 2007/8.
Outrageous, provocative and downright hilarious, the show offered a delicious romp through the tangled love life of its central protagonist, the glib Hank Moody, as he attempted (mostly unsuccessfully) to get back with his ex-girlfriend Karen (Natascha McElhone) and be a good father and role model to his daughter Becca (Madeleine Martin).
The path to redemption, however, was far from easy given Hank’s roving eye, sexual appetite and continued bad choice in women.
One disastrous liaison early on in the series began with him being punched in the face by his sleeping partner, Mila Lewis (Madeline Zima), and earning a black eye, mid-romp… only to find out that he’d just de-flowered the under-age daughter of Karen’s new fiance, Bill Lewis (Damian Young).
While a fantasy early on found him being seduced by a sultry nun while in church attempting to put his life back in order.
As promiscuous and sexually frank as the series continued to be throughout, however, it also delivered a set of characters who were really worth caring about. Duchovny’s Hank, in particular, was a loveable loser, desperately trying to get his shit together, but hideously prone to one error of judgement after another.
The former X-Files star nailed Hank so completely that he became one of the great TV creations, easily rivalling the actor’s work in that previous landmark series. He fully deserved the Golden Globe he won at this year’s awards ceremony.
But the support cast was equally brilliant. McElhone was sexy and a suitably intelligent foil for Hank’s advances; Madeleine Martin a suitably troubled teenage daughter; and Madeline Zima a real bitch as Mila Lewis, who continually used Hank’s indiscretion to her advantage.
Fun, too, was Evan Handler as Hank’s best friend and publisher Charlie Runkle who had his own sexual shenanigans to contend with, including a promiscuous secretary who led to complications for his shaky marriage.
At half an hour per episode, each instalment left you thirsting for more, while gushing away at its brilliance and sheer feel-good value for some time afterwards.
If you didn’t catch it on Channel 5, then the release of the Season 1 box set really ought not pass you by. Californication is a blast of a programme – intelligent, brilliantly written, sexually daring and emotionally involving. It’s one of the finest new shows of recent seasons and a must-have addition to anyone’s DVD collections!
Roll on season two…
Running time: 647mins