Californication season 4 premiere: Exile On Main St. – Episode review

What attracts you to Californication? I think for me, it’s that despite Hank Moody (David Duchovny) being a scruffy, delinquent wreck of a human being, he manages to easily snag any woman he likes. It’s that secret male fantasy – every woman is a potential lover. With Hank, it’s true. Virtually every woman he lays eyes on ends up in bed with him.

I find myself wondering at what point he’ll end up in bed with his new lawyer. It’s almost inevitable, right? Here’s a bang-on assessment of the show from Starpulse:

Maybe Californication’s legacy will be that it accurately depicts the male “id.” The concept that if it’s available, be it a woman, drugs, or booze, a typical fellow will devour the contents, chew on the container, and nine times out of ten, not even bother to recycle after.

So, Californication returns for a fourth season. It picks up roughly after the third season finale – Hank’s just got out of jail. His long-kept secret – that he had unwittingly sex with a minor – has come out and the domestic bliss he was on the edge of achieving is now dead in the water.

I love that Charlie (Evan Handler) brings him cigarettes, wine and sunglasses when he gets out of jail!

Anyway, the season premiere sets up the story perfectly. Hank’s still in a lot of trouble for the underage sex incident. Karen’s thrown him out and he’s facing charges of statutory rape. On the other hand, his arrest has made him front-page news, which has made a television adaptation of his novel, F*cking and Punching hot property.

An ‘American Sweetheart’ type of actress Sasha Bingham is keen to break out of her squeaky clean mould by being the lead in the series, but she wants Hank to write the scripts. And by write the scripts, we mean shag her in her hotel room. Of course. And that’s what happens, including a re-enactment of the classic punching scene. The punching in the face thing isn’t sexy at all. Sorry, readers, but I prefer my intercourse laid back and friendly. Concussion shouldn’t be a factor.

Of course, if we wanted to intellectualise that scene, it would be that Hank wants to be punched in the face because he feels bad about what he’s done. Hence the dream sequence immediately after where he imagines going home…

The thing about Californication is that I couldn’t imagine ever watching it with my wife. She’d balk at the nudity and the very colourful language and concepts the show deals in. It’s definitely a guy show.

But that’s really what’s enjoyable about it: the playful male fantasy, that you can be as deadbeat and wasted as Hank but your natural charm will overpower even the hottest of Hollywood starlets. It’s not true of course, but we appreciate the escapism for thirty minutes! It really excels in the banter between Hank and Charlie, and even the lawyer got a laugh with the line “You smell like you just walked out of a fisting contest…”

I’ll leave you with a quote from the Toronto Sun, which claims that Californication is really treading the same tired old ground – that Hank makes the same basic mistakes over and over again and never learns from them:

Californication still is worth a laugh, for sure, but Hank’s antics may have become as tiring to the audience as they have to the other people in his world.

Particularly irksome is the overdone push-and-pull of Hank’s volatile romantic relationship with Karen, played by Natascha McElhone. Lord, Karen should know Hank by now, right? So what’s with the sporadic and naive moral outrage?

What did you think of the season premiere? Leave me your comments below. In the meantime, here are a few select quotes…

Cailfornication Quotes

  • Charlie: She told me she’d kick my pale, pock-marked ass if I brought you home right now.
  • Charlie: It’s called the Interweb, Hank. It’s been around for a while now. Remember how fast my masturbation video spread? That was unnerving…
  • Charlie: Well call me Mr Brightside, but I think we’re making some serious progress here…
  • Lawyer: You smell like you just walked out of a fisting contest.
  • Stoned writer: Thank you, Roger Ebert. 
  • Hank: Not only does the lady have bodacious tatas, she also has splendiferous taste in literature.
  • Hank: 11? Perfectly respectable number for a cocksman of your callibre. And it reminds me of Spinal Tap…
  • Charlie: A piece of shit on paper. She said you were a piece of shit on paper…

2 Comments

  1. navajojoe

    I don’t know how to say it, but I do know something was missing.  Hank wasn’t Hank and Runkle wasn’t Runkle.  I’m not going to blame it on the acting because I think they are both great actors.  I think the writers screwed something up.  Why are they walking around with so much swagger?  What I love so much about Hank is his childish side, but at the same time he is very serious.  At a moment like this you would expect Hank to be down not up and walking around with swagger.  He just lost the love of his life again, broke his daughters heart and just got out of jail for statutory rape charges so I don’t understand why he is so happy, it’s not in his character.  I’m very disappointed and I think they might have some new writers that messed things up.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      I wasn’t a regular Californication watcher up until now, so I don’t think I was qualified to comment. Though I’ve had a crash course in season one since I wrote this and am now halfway through season two!

      The thing about Hank is that even when he wanted Karen back, he was happily screwing half of Venice (as he said in one episode). There seems to be that tendency in him that he’s always a shambling scruff – I’ve heard Runkle and his new Lawyer both ask if he’s retarded. Can’t help but wonder if he doesn’t have the emotional maturity to deal with his problems properly and that’s why he acts inappropriately.

      Look at Season 1 for instance – even after discovering he’s slept with an underage girl, he does his best to protect her even when she’s stealing her work. I’d keep my distance from a banshee like that!

      Sorry for the rant, but I got obsessed by Californication and a lot of thoughts/ideas are bubbling around my head at the moment! Thanks for your comment, by the way!

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