Thursday, 23 September 2010

Californication 3.9 'Mr. Bad Example'

“…If a client asks you to dress up like a French Maid and rim his shit-hole… you comply…” – Sue Collini

Maybe I’m being a little harsh here but ‘Mr. Bad Example’ was a bit of a disappointing come down after the highs of last week’s clusterfuck ‘The Apartment’.

Thank the Lord though for Charlie Runkle who was once again the best thing about the episode and probably, beyond the one-liners and quotable sound-bites, the season so far. Evan Handler and the writers have really managed to make Charlie this sad, pathetic loser who you can’t help but cheer on.

I really long for a victory for Runkle and though there’s no sign of it yet, he must have took some solace in prising Marcy away from the increasingly unhinged Rick Springfield and then watching in almost disbelief as the star crawled around on the floor trying to rescue the blow Charlie has half-inched him from a college kids’ snake tank – is there a bigger drug dealer cliché than owning a snake!?

That scene with Hank and Charlie performing a mild spot of B & E was one of my favourites of the season so far as we’ve had so little Hank and Charlie interaction in that high-jinx sort of way. David Duchovny and Handler have a wonderful chemistry and watching the two of them acting the fool as they hunted for the coke was a moment of light-hearted joy in an episode that was rather heavy on the weighty stuff in light of last week’s revelations about Hank’s recent bed partners.

Charlie finally standing up to Rick Springfield at the episode’s end may have cost him his career, especially if the opening quote from Sue is anything to go by, but at least he got the last laugh, for now at least.

I was pleased as Charlie stood up to Springfield (who deserves an award for this guest spot by the way) but then as he backed down when Marcy warned him about his career I thought we were going to see more of the pathetic, spineless, perpetually shat-on Charlie we’ve seem all season. As Springfield amped up his uber-douche routine though Charlie finally “sacked up” and threw Springfield’s precious blow back in his face, literally.

Hank meanwhile was struggling to steady the ship’s course after everyone discovered about everyone last week, this at least allowed for plenty of Hank-Dean Koons interaction which is always gold but unfortunately this arc mostly led to plenty of sit-downs with Karen and subsequently Felicia.

Becca giving Chelsea a black eye was satisfying, given what a snotty brat the Dean’s daughter has been all season; but seeing her having a rare moment of fun and tenderness with her Father as Karen and Becca visited was a way of giving both of those characters some much needed humanization, as both had been in danger of becoming thinly-veiled caricatures, albeit in the Dean’s case: a pretty funny one.

Hank’s seeming lack of guilt or concern over the fact that his actions had led to Becca’s expulsion was a very unflattering look on him – he has always been a womanizing drunk but his number one priority was always Becca. So the fact that not long after he had unwittingly been responsible for his daughter being expelled he was out horsing around with Charlie really made it difficult to continue rooting for him.

His reaction to the security guard who caught him and Charlie in the dorm room was priceless though: “you know the Dean?” “I fucked his wife…”

Speaking of Dean Koons, he also managed to get one of the night’s best lines (of the word variety) by referencing his penis as “the little Dean”. Peter Gallagher genuinely looks like he’s never been having more fun in this role and although not as shockingly vulgar as Kathleen Turner is as Sue, he is probably this season’s unsung comedy hero.

The final scene would suggest that we have now seen the last of Felicia (and Rick Springfield) so it definitely feels like we are moving towards the season’s end, but with a few episodes still to go before the finale I’m kind of curious as to where we will go these next few weeks. But even if these remaining episodes are centred more on the drama aspect of Californication rather than the comedy, so long as Peter Gallagher and Kathleen Turner are still around you can guarantee it will be a funny half hour of drama.

Bullet Points:

- Marcy’s star crush on Rick Springfield was explained but I don’t feel they explored it enough for us to really believe she would risk the sobriety she fought so hard for just to be with him. Pamela Adlon had been M.I.A. for the last couple of episodes and I know time constraints more than likely play a factor but they could have dropped in a couple of little scenes to really hammer home her Springfield-obsession before tonight’s pay-off.

That said, the lobsters and the bib were a nice touch and brought back memories of that brilliant episode with Charlie in the bib.

- It was such a 180 I didn’t realize it was Chelsea in the kitchen with the Dean when Karen and Becca called round – I genuinely thought they’d stumbled upon him trying to bed another student. Given what we’d seen before, this was the most surprising and genuinely touching scene of the episode and possibly the season and as stated above it was really important to give some depth to both Father and Daughter.

- I know she got him out of jail but that last scene with Hank and Felicia just didn’t resonate with me at all – why is he still kissing and sharing a moment with her!? Has he learnt nothing!? Of all the guest stars this season, she’s the one I’m glad to see the back of most.

- Just a final little note to say that as this season of Californication has been the first season of a show where I have reviewed every episode, once the finale has aired and my review has gone up I will be putting together a compendium piece that will feature my review of each episode all in one place – possibly with some overall season analysis as a little bonus feature, so keep an eye out for that in a few weeks’ time.

- Oh, and props for another Warren Zevon reference with the title.

Californication continues Wednesday @ 10.45pm on FIVER


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