Friday, 12 June 2009

Dream of 'Californication'

You could trawl through each of the nine hundred some channels beamed into your home through your digi-box, spend 24 hours watching each one and you would never find a better show than the awesome ‘Californication’.

The best show on TV right now, ‘Californication’ is consistently delivering some of the freshest, most original writing on TV and it is a joy to behold.

In the six long months I’ve been doing this blog I don’t think I’ve readily quoted any show as much as I have with ‘Californication’ – and we’re only six episodes in to this sublime second season.

Sometimes with drama-dies the ‘edy’ part is seemingly lost by the wayside but ‘Californication’ is funnier than 90% of ‘comedies’ out there. I lost count of the number of times I laughed out loud during last Thursday’s episode - but suffice to say it was a lot.

The dialogue is so beautifully written – think how cool Diablo Cody tried to make the dialogue in ‘Juno’, but less awkward and forced when it actually gets on to the screen, and you’ll be someway to understanding just how perfect the penmanship for this show is.

Sure the more salty language is always good for a cheap laugh but there is so much more to the words that are uttered by Duchovny et al than the shock factor of an f-bomb.

The way Hank interacts with his Satanist daughter Becca should seem fake and scripted but it doesn’t, and that’s not only testament to the amazing performances by David Duchovny and Madeleine Martin but also to the strength of the writing – take that Cody.

As a writer, you would expect Hank to have somewhat of a flair for words, but he surpasses anything you could possibly imagine: going from vulgar, crude (and hilarious) to sensitive and prophetical in a matter of seconds.

His relationship with Lew Ashby this season has been a particular highpoint for me with Ashby seemingly having become a surrogate Charlie while Charlie is off becoming a snow-blind porn baron.

The great dialogue is not just limited to Hank though; the aforementioned Charlie and his at times demented coke fiend wife Marcy generally have some fantastic exchanges which, especially this season, are herniatingly funny.

In spite of the myriad great performances on display and note-perfect writing ‘Californication’ is Duchovny’s show and he has never been better.

Anyone who still thought of him as ‘The X-Files’ moody conspiracy-theorist Fox Mulder had their view completely skewed when Hank Moody slithered onto our screens, and from that opening scene where he was fellated by a nun, you knew that this was a very different Duchovny we were seeing.

Or was this actually the real Duchovny? Because in one of the most bizarre cases of life imitating art it was announced last year that Duchovny was checking into rehab for sex addiction, but that’s his business and we wish him well – if for nothing more than the sake of the show – no one wants to see Hank Moody fucking a TV Chef and be wondering if Duchovny’s actually had his end away with Delia Smith.

Anyone who knows Duchovny's body of work outside of ‘The X-Files’ though will know that Fox Mulder is about as far removed from David Duchovny the man as you can get – witness his work on ‘The Larry Sanders Show’ in a recurring role as himself to see that this man was born to do comedy.

It’ll be a real shame if ‘Californication’s dwindling viewers cause a cancellation, because in spite of ‘The X-Files’ cult appeal this is how we should remember Duchovny – he is in the form of his life as Hank Moody and readily chews each and every piece of scenery in every scene he is in.

If you haven’t already caught this highly original and just out and out brilliant show you really need to. The sex and profane language may not exactly be groundbreaking, but in a world where you can say and do increasingly less without facing some sort of backlash, they are highly refreshing.

Thankfully Hank hasn’t fallen victim to budget-cutting TV execs over his summer hiatus and will soon be returning for a third season of debauchery and colourful language, so now is the perfect time to join the ‘Californication’ revolution and get caught up in time for season 3, I promise you, you will not be disappointed…

‘Californication’ Season 2 is currently airing Thursdays @ 10pm on Fiver.

Other Televisual Musings this Week:

- So ‘Big Brother’ is back and I’ve made myself a promise that I’ll be staying well clear this year and that already seems like one of the best decisions I may ever make.

A week in and if I didn’t sporadically check The Sun website for news stories to make fun of I wouldn’t even know it was back on our screens. The days when it was front page news now seem long gone, interest this year really does seem to be dwindling and I wonder how long it’s going to take the producers to realise that upping the fame-hungry, desperate and out and out freak quota does nothing but turn people off.

I still firmly believe that the show succeeded initially because we were intrigued to see real people interacting in such an extraordinary environment, but slowly ‘Big Brother’ has become more and more of a caricature of itself - typified by this years batch of liggers.

I say we just pump noxious gas into the ‘Big Brother’ house’s air conditioning system then we can have an outcome we can all be happy with.

- ‘The Apprentice’ drew to a close on Sunday night and in a result that some would call shocking, Yasmina was declared the victor.

If we’re honest, either one of them could have won; they were the best of a bad bunch after all. I had to laugh when Alan Sugar said that they were the best two he’s had in the final yet – I don’t even think he believed what he was saying at that point!

All the contestants have been competing all year to hear just two little words from Sugar: “You’re hired!” and it was just two little words that ensured I didn’t watch the Adrian Chiles fronted spin-off of the same name straight after the main show: “Ruby” and “Wax” – seriously how does that woman still find gainful employment? The Apprentice is a massively popular show, was she really the best they could do?

- ‘House’ has finally made the move that all successful US shows eventually make on these shores: the defection to Sky1.

We’ve seen it before with the likes of ‘24’, ‘Lost’ and ‘Prison Break’ – if the BBC hadn’t had the foresight to ink ‘Heroes’ to a long term deal then you can bet your sweet little ass that we’d already be watching Sylar switch allegiances for the millionth time in High Definition by now.

But back to ‘House’, I’d never really watched it properly until now so I can’t comment on his new diagnostic team compared to the old one or how the show has developed over its five incredibly successful seasons, like the seasoned and well-versed TV scholar that I clearly am I can only pass judgement on four episodes of one of the most popular shows of the last five years – I’m such a pro…

My ignorance aside, all I can say is that I like what I’ve seen, like one of House’s patients I’ve been exposed to something contagious and somewhat intangible and I can’t get enough.

Hugh Laurie deserves every single plaudit he has received for his performance as Dr. Gregory House as he is truly outstanding – it’s hard to believe this is the same guy who appeared in Ben Elton’s ‘Maybe Baby’.

The first four episodes have been made all the more enjoyable by Michael Weston’s presence as the sleazy yet sensitive Private Investigator Lucas Douglas who has been the perfect foil for House.

Sadly his involvement in the show has now ended, although if the rumoured spin-off involving the Lucas character is true then I will definitely be tuning in.

For now though, I’m going to continue making up for lost time by revelling in the acerbic greatness of ‘House MD’.

- ‘Dollhouse’ continues to be a pleasant surprise – as a massive Joss Whedon fan and a pretty big Eliza Dushku fan my hopes for this show were sky high but I never thought for one minute that I would end up being anything but disappointed by their new collaboration.

But lo and behold, ‘Dollhouse’ continues to be thoroughly entertaining; it’s funny, thrilling and at times emotionally resonating. It is never going to fill the void that ‘Firefly’ and ‘Tru Calling’ left in my life but it’s a damn site better than having nothing at all from Whedon and Dushku.

Although I am starting to get concerned that the show is nothing but an excuse for Dushku to constantly take off her clothes and/or dress up in fetish gear – not that I’m complaining!

- So, okay I’m a little late on this one but: NBC have fucking cancelled ‘My Name is Earl’! Are you shitting me!?

‘Earl’ is one of the most consistently laugh out loud funny shows on TV and I just can’t imagine what they were thinking over there at the old rainbow peacock.

There are rumblings of a resurrection on another network and countless petitions lining cyberspace but I for one doubt we will be seeing Earl, Randy and co. on our screens again so my advice is to enjoy what’s left of the current run over here while you can because it looks to me as though Earl may have crossed off his last list item.


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