Thursday, 29 July 2010

Californication 3.1 'Wish You Were Here'

It’s been a long wait but Hank Moody is finally back on our screens and sweet Moses, has he been missed.

After an extended ‘previously…’ montage, Californication’s third season began and within a matter of seconds Hank’s brilliant way with words was delighting and offending in equal doses.

With the possible exception of Rescue Me, there is no show on television that even comes close to rivalling Californication’s razor-sharp dialogue. Some of the things that come out of the characters’ mouths, mainly Hank’s, just shouldn’t work – people don’t talk like that – but they do, and they don’t just work, they amaze.

It’s frustrating being a fan of a show like this in the UK; for all intents and purposes Californication gets treated like crap – bounced around the schedules, broadcast at ridiculous hours and no rhyme and reason to when and where it airs whatsoever.

Every molecule of that frustration evaporated last night though, because Californication was back, and it was better than ever.

Hank is now raising Becca as a single father after Karen left for New York at the end of season 2, and while Hank & Karen remain in love coast to coast they aren’t saving themselves for each other, as Hank demonstrated mere seconds in to the season 3 premiere by falling asleep inside a young lovely.

After his conquest storms out, Hank finds Becca and friend Chelsea stoned in his kitchen. Turns out Hank’s parenting skills leave a lot to be desired as the weed they had was from his own stash (Freudianly hidden inside his typewriter).

This little incident sets up the remainder of the episode, as Chelsea’s Mother invites Hank over to dinner and events soon spiral out of control – mainly due to Hank.

Elsewhere Charlie is struggling at his new job – working for a scenery-chewing Kathleen Turner and lamenting his previous indiscretions that led to his marriage to “cokey smurf” Marcy falling apart.

Turner was a nice surprise in this episode because I don’t remember hearing that she was in this season and she looked like she’s having the time of her life and even managed to steal the episode’s best line: “cumming like a baby Gorilla”.

Not to sound callous but looking at her now, it’s hard to believe Turner was once one of the most desirable women in the World. When you consider how well her former sparring partner Michael Douglas has aged it is quite shocking to see Turner looking slightly rotund and sounding like she’s just gargled with rusty nails. When she guest-starred in Friends – she played Chandler’s transsexual Father, looking at Kathleen Turner circa 2009 though you’ve got to wonder how much of a stretch that was.

But call me sick, depraved and in need of some serious mental help, I actually think this Kathleen Turner is sexier. Give me a randy old, sexually aggressive Turner coming out with dialogue that gives even the great Hank Moody a run for his money any day over the prim and proper Turner of Romancing the Stone.

No Lew Ashby this season is a big loss to the show for me, because Callum Keith Rennie and the chemistry he and Duchovny had last season was such a big part of what made season 2 so great. But if the guest stars are of the quality of last night’s episode for the rest of the season then Ashby’s absence may not be as much of a loss for the show.

In addition to Turner, last night also saw the first appearances of Peter Gallagher and Embeth Daviditz as Chelsea’s parents, and Dean and teacher respectively at the college I’m in no doubt Hank ends up working at, and Diane Farr as a teaching assistant who I’m in no doubt Hank ends up bedding.

Gallagher (who will always be Sandy Cohen – the best thing about The O.C. – to me) looks as though he’ll be butting heads with Hank this season and Farr, who keeps popping up in many of my favourite shows: The Job, Rescue Me and now Californication, looks like being Hank’s love interest (although love probably isn’t the right word) at least until Karen comes back, which is inevitable… isn’t it?

I didn’t recognise Gallagher when he was on the bike and Hank knocked him off but I remarked to the girlfriend that you just knew that cyclist was on his way to the same dinner party as Hank, this being Californication and all.

That dinner party last night wasn’t quite as eventful as the one in last season’s ‘The Raw & the Cooked’ but it was still rather interesting. Duchovny’s real life friend Jason Beghe played novelist Richard Bates who Hank inadvertently knocks off the wagon within about a minute of meeting him.

After a rather graphic insight into his next book, a hammered Bates then proceeded to pose with his “mangina” before jumping out of the window. This relapse will no doubt lead to Hank taking Bates’ place as a college lecturer and thus set up the season’s main arc – see it wasn’t just gratuitous nudity!

All in all a great return to form for the mighty Californication – the best written show on TV. For me ‘Wish You Were Here’ wasn’t quite as strong as last season’s opener ‘Slip of the Tongue’, but then again how do you top accidental cunnilingus!? It was still a hell of an appetiser for what is to come though, and given the current lack of great shows airing in the UK I’ve never been happier to have Hank Moody back on my screen.

Other Thoughts:

- Where was Damien? He’s the reason Hank & Becca remained in LA, yet he was nowhere to be seen last night. Hopefully he wasn’t just a plot device to keep the two of them in LA and won’t just disappear without an explanation. I quite enjoyed his dynamic with Hank last season.

- I can’t say losing Madeline Zima as a regular has hurt the show in any way. Mia’s story pretty much ran its course in season 1 and although she had her moments last season, they seemed to have less and less for Zima to do. I know she’s back later on in the season but I think as a recurring character now is just fine.

- I would’ve liked to see Peter Gallagher as a friend of Hank’s rather than a foe, but that’s mainly because I like Peter Gallagher, as I’m never going to be able to root against Hank Moody – he is the epitome of the anti-hero.

- I’d love to see Callum Keith Rennie back in dream form again this year but I doubt that will happen, still it was nice to hear Ashby referenced a couple of times through the book.

- I know its cheap humour but I love name jokes. Hank’s amusement at Stacey Koons being a college Dean and thus being Dean Koons was exactly the reaction I would have had. My favourite running joke of this nature is in Mike Judge’s film Office Space with the character called Michael Bolton.

Californication Season 3 airs Wednesday nights on Fiver. Next week’s episode goes out @ 11.15pm


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