Monday, 25 October 2010

The Californication Season 3 Compendium

The last three months have revolved very heavily around the brilliant Californication in terms of both my blogging and my TV viewing habits.

This fantastic show has inspired me to write more than any other since I’ve been doing this and thus I managed to get a review up for every episode of the sublime third season – something I hadn’t previously managed for any show.

Thus I felt compelled to put all the reviews together in one place as a sort of season 3 essay if you will – I’d been promising it for a few weeks, so true to my word here it is, all twelve individual reviews for the season in one mammoth post longer than the coke straw you’d need to give Sue Collini “the old coke in the can”.

You can see how my thoughts progressed as the season moved along both from a critical stand-point and from a fan’s view point and I’d really be interested to hear what anyone has to say about anything you see below.

So without further ado, here in all its wordy glory is my first ever seasonal compendium and what better show to pop my cherry with than the majestic Californication… Enjoy…


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.


3.2 ‘The Land of Rape and Honey’

Season 3 of the brilliant Californication continued last night on Fiver here in the UK and I’ve got a review coming up, hopefully my writing won’t be too “niggardly” for you…

As expositional as last week’s season premiere was, it was still great television and passed by in the blink of an eye, that’s the thing with Californication: it’s just not on for long enough. I’ve never known a show where the episodes feel so short, just as you get in to it it’s over for another week. This is very effective in making you want more, but sometimes I just long for an extra ten minutes…

But if last week’s season premiere was somewhat exposition heavy then this week’s episode was probably more in keeping with what we can expect from the rest of the season.

Hank is now firmly installed in his new position as a college professor, albeit not doing a very good job at the moment, unless you class driving a student to a suicide bid as doing a good job.

Hank as teacher has so much comedy potential and no doubt it will be mined for all it’s worth as the season progresses, but even after one episode with him in the role they have already rounded many of the bases.

Dean Koons referred to Hank as a “man-child” and at times it seemed as though our hero would be more at home in front of the desk than behind it; drinking in school, texting in class, not doing his work and smoking pot before being summoned to the Dean’s office.

Hank’s educational exploits have already led to him working his manly charms on a trifecta of beautiful women: Dean Koons’ wife Felicia (Embeth Daviditz), tasty T.A. Jill (Diane Farr) and smoking hot, busty student turned stripper Jackie (Eva Amurri).

I recognised Amurri from her recent role in House but was quite taken aback by how hot she was looking in Californication; I have just discovered that she is Susan Sarandon’s daughter though which would explain the impressive rack.

Hopefully this isn’t the last we’ve seen of her this season, but whether I want to see Hank score with one of his students remains to be seen.

Most of the big laughs last night came courtesy of poor Charlie (Evan Handler) who seems to have been reduced to the light relief thus far this season, be it the constant sexual advances he has to put up with from his boss Sue Collini, his increasingly awful attempts to win back Marcy or any of the other unfortunate predicaments he seems to find himself in.

First up last night was Hank tricking Charlie into revealing a gay experience he had as a child, then, in a sublimely cringe-worthy scene, Charlie tried to ‘rape’ Marcy because he thought that’s what she wanted.

I for one hope Charlie has a bit of luck soon because at the moment he’s being shat on from every direction. The gay story did serve a purpose beyond humiliating Charlie though; as Hank later stole it and passed it off as his own undo a wrong he had committed (more on that in a minute).

Kathleen Turner once again stole the show last night as she chewed her way through another episode’s worth of scenery, how she missed out on a best guest star Emmy is beyond me.

Another good guest spot came from Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick as the vampire-obsessed student who Hank drove to a suicide bid with his rather blunt criticism of the aspiring young writer.

His character and appearance seem to have been a means to develop Hank and Jackie’s relationship but his dark and rather creepy performance was note-perfect and was very funny stuff – especially his truly awful Twilight-esque vampire story.

For an episode that was quite heavy on the laughs in all the threads running through it, it ended on quite a sombre not as Hank and Becca got into a shouting match that ended with them both professing their hatred for each other.

If Hank hasn’t got off to the best start as a teacher, he’s got off an abysmal start as a single Father.

Another brilliant episode from a show that seems to be high on confidence at the moment, hopefully they can keep up this momentum for the rest of the season.

Other Thoughts:

- Still no mention of Damien, so I’m guessing he’s now out of the picture. I’m not too disappointed if he was purely just the MacGuffin that got Hank and Becca to stay in LA while Karen went to New York but it would’ve been nice to at least have him addressed at some point.

- No Karen this week, which wasn’t too much of a loss really. I wouldn’t want to see her absent for too long but as much as I love her relationship with Hank, Mr. Moody is always at his bad boy best when Karen’s not around.

- Marcy is now “Cougar Smurf”, it doesn’t quite have the same ring as “Cokey Smurf” but it’ll do.

- We are going to get to see Jackie in stripper action at some point this season aren’t we…? Aren’t we…!?!


3.3 ‘Verities & Balderdash’

"Are you sexually harassing me right now? Because if you are, I think I'm going to have to report you… For giving me a serious boner…" - Hank

This week’s Californication opened with a scene featuring Susan Sarandon’s best ever work…

…Her smokin’ hot daughter Eva Amurri and her remarkable norks, which seriously, could win the Turner Prize.

I’ve become a little bit obsessed with Eva Amurri since she first appeared last week as student turned stripper Jackie but I’ll try and reign in the pervy comments as much as I can for the length of this review.

Maybe not everyone is as perverted as me but I genuinely thought they might build up to the big reveal of Jackie finally getting naked on screen for the majority of the season. But no, her second episode opens with her writhing around topless in a dream sequence no less!

I’d love to have heard how they sold Amurri on that scene:

“Eva, we need you to go topless”

“Oh, ok – is it an important scene”

“Not really, just a dream sequence with no real bearing on advancing the story…”

Still I’m not complaining, at least now I can focus on the show for the remainder of the season rather than wondering what Jackie looks like naked… Sorry, I know I said I wouldn’t harp on about those magnificent mammaries but honestly they should be on display in The Guggenheim.

Enough about that spectacular opening scene though, because surprisingly the show didn’t go down hill rapidly after we saw some exquisite boobies (last time I promise!)

After the rather dark ending to last week’s episode I was surprised there wasn’t much follow up on the Hank-Becca profanity-laced argument that closed out last week’s instalment. Although there was clearly tension still there the two were at least civil to one another for the duration of ‘Verities & Balderdash’.

The episode mainly centred around Hank being invited to the annual English department mixer hosted by the Koons’; after initially refusing to attend, instead opting to play Guitar Hero with Becca, a phone call from Karen changed Hank’s mind and he and Becca headed over for the “wine and cheese”.

At the party, Hank seemed almost irresistible to the three women he has been spending time with recently – Felicia, Jill and Jackie who was working the bar at the party.

First after a rare moment of honesty and openness Felicia kissed Hank, only to be interrupted by Jackie, who then suggested Hank could have his way with her if he so desired.

Then, after she had seemingly been stood up by her date for the evening Jill gravitated towards Mr. Moody in Dean Koons’ private office whilst they were searching for his good liquor.

It would have been rude for Hank not to reciprocate the advances and the two got down to business on the Dean’s floor.

I was glad to see this tryst hadn’t seemingly destroyed the relationship between Hank and his T.A. as I like Diane Farr as Jill and hope to see her for the rest of the season; there will obviously be some awkwardness there now but hopefully that will only add to the witty repartee between the two of them.

Elsewhere, we got a little insight into Becca’s damaged mind as she and Chelsea took mushrooms together. The fact she is still a virgin must mean that Damien, whose whereabouts I have questioned thus far, didn’t last as a boyfriend and merely was the MacGuffin to keep Hank and Karen apart this season.

Over in Runkle’s world his joy at finally signing a client, Jesse’s Girl himself Rick Springfield, quickly turned to despair as Marcy caught him inside his boss Sue as she stopped by to celebrate with him.

Kathleen Turner continues to be absolutely amazing in this role and is clearly having the time of her life chewing the scenery for all it’s worth.

When will poor Charlie catch a break? After weeks of rejecting Sue’s overly aggressive advances he finally caves and Marcy catches him in the act.

This did lead us to a nice closing scene though as Hank, in Slanket, and Charlie shared a somewhat poignant moment wondering when they will both get their respective families back together again.

All in all I’d have to say probably the weakest episode of the three thus far but still a hell of a watch. Maybe it’s just the fact that absence has made the heart grow fonder but I can’t think of a show in the last year that has made me as happy and joyous to watch as Californication.

It is definitely the only show I feel the need to watch twice as well, purely just to pick up on all the great one-liners and banter that goes on.

Roll on next week…

Other Thoughts:

- I love Peter Gallagher, and it’s almost a shame to see him in such a stuffy role, the way he plays off Duchovny though is great and any time the two share a scene it is uniformly great.

It was also nice to see Dean Koons a little more relaxed this week as he entered his office singing and dancing, in a nice touch singing the same song that Richard Bates sung as he “tucked and did the pee-pee dance” back in the season premiere: “blow on my dice…”

- Merely an introduction for Rick Springfield, hopefully he’ll be a big part of episodes to come; the writers can definitely have a lot of fun here as Springfield seemed to be up for playing a much exaggerated version of himself after only one scene.

- Judging from that opening day dream, Hank is obviously smitten with Jackie, but do we think he’ll end up acting on his impulses? I’m torn at the moment, last week I would have said no but now I’m not so sure.

Personally I don’t really think we need to see Hank sleeping with a student, I know she’s obviously of consenting age but given the whole Mia statutory rape blackmail it’d just show that Hank has learned nothing from his dalliance with a very young woman. Then again, however much of “a world class a-hole” Hank is it’s impossible not to root for him.

- Although you could see Marcy walking in on Charlie and Sue a mile away, it was still superbly done by all concerned a raised a huge laugh, especially Marcy knowing straight away what her estranged husband was up to.

I’d assumed Charlie was under the table going down on Sue so when he poked his head round from behind her it was a very funny and, for me at least, unexpected moment.

And again, Kathleen Turner has just been sensational thus far and with the exception of Duchovny has been the season’s MVP thus far.


3.4 ‘Zoso’

“Hank I’ve been making some phone calls on your behalf, and guess what – people think you’re a cunt… no joke.” – Sue Collini

Well it didn’t take Hank long to do what I really hoped he wouldn’t and sleep with my beloved Jackie, but to be fair to the guy no sane man could’ve resisted what was offered to him – “Can I touch one?”

David Duchovny and the writers deserve so much credit for making Hank, a man who is essentially playing three women (four if you include Karen) at the same time, into the most sympathetic character on the show.

The title of the episode: ‘Zoso’ of course refers to Jimmy Page’s famous symbol and Hank was certainly getting a ‘Whole Lotta Love’ (sorry) in this episode.

This was a very funny episode of a show that can be superbly silly and superbly serious in equal doses.

The episode began with Hank in his office with both Felicia and Jill throwing themselves at him yet again, Felicia revealing that her husband had in fact once cheated on her and she was looking to finally cash in on her payback – with Hank.

After a meeting with Sue Collini and Charlie in which Sue suggested Hank become a glorified gigolo and charm his way into the hearts, minds… and pants of all the old lonely Hollywood “snatch” out there to turn around his unpopularity in La-La Land; Hank and Runkle headed off to Jackie’s strip club after the buxom lovely dropped Hank’s class.

As one-note as Kathleen Turner’s character is on the show, every time she is on screen you can almost guarantee the best lines of the episode are going to be uttered. She only featured in one scene this week but still managed to get in four or five hugely quotable lines (see above).

“Collini out”.

Was Jackie quitting Hank’s class a ploy to get our hero into the sack? If it was it certainly worked. After finding Jackie at the strip club performing under the pseudonym Ashley Madison she coerced Hank into having a lap dance before the two had somewhat of a heart to heart at the bar.

In between this we got some Charlie gold as Runkle managed to cum in his pants during a rather vigorous lapdance – “it was a compliment!” before he was called back home to aid Marcy in trying to sell their home to an interested couple.

This ended rather graphically badly as Marcy left a used tampon floating in the toilet which then managed to block the toilet when they tried to quickly flush it.

“Fuuuck, it’s like a slasher film in there…”

Whether it was Charlie’s way with words or just her own depression that drove Marcy back into Charlie’s arms remains to be seen, but we left the Runkles in a passionate clinch. No doubt this will be followed up next week with Charlie thinking they’re back together and Marcy regretting the incident deeply but I for one am rooting for the Runkles.

As Hank left the strip club he spotted Jackie in the parking lot being hassled by a bunch of frat boys and decided to defend her virtue in his own incomparable way…

“Someone’s looking for a mouthful of cock and balls huh?”

“Now that does not sound very appetising… or filling”

After an asskicking left Hank licking his wounds Jackie took it upon herself to take him home to clean him up only to then use the moment to make her move which Hank resisted briefly but finally gave in to, as any fan of Eva Amurri’s Louvre-worthy boobs would have.

Hank obviously had a twinge of guilt over what he had been getting up to as he laid awake later that night and ended up on a Skype chat to Karen, which was as touching as usual.

Karen’s absence from the show in a major capacity this season has been a big loss as her relationship with Hank is so important to the show’s heart and soul, but at least in these brief conversations that undying love still shines through for Californication’s Romeo & Juliet.

The chat with Karen felt like a natural end for the episode so when the fade to black didn’t lead to the end credits I was surprised; but as we saw Hank at college it became obvious that his chickens were about to come home to roost.

First Jill revealed she would be going commando for his class and gave Hank an eyeful from the front row, then Felicia decided to audit the class, sitting down right next to Jill, and then of course, predictably, Jackie then returned to the class bragging about her “hot date” from the night before.

As Hank turned to the white board and began to write I knew exactly what he was going to scrawl up there, and it perfectly summed up how Mr. Moody feels about the situation he has managed to get himself into in spite of trying his best to resist his three admirers…

“FUCK”.

Other Thoughts:

- No Peter Gallagher this week which was a shame, hopefully Dean Koons will be back next week to be antagonised some more by Hank.

- I was a little disappointed by the lack of follow up on Felicia taking Becca shopping; I was expecting Becca to come back looking rather slutty and Hank to freak out.

- One of my favourite lines of the night was Jackie’s “you once spent an entire class ranting about how much you hate Coldplay” – how awesome would Hank Moody be as your college professor!?

- No Rick Springfield follow up this week which was a surprise, after his introduction last week as Charlie’s big fish signing.

- I liked the fact that Balt was at least referenced again as Jackie’s room mate even if he wasn’t seen. I hate it when shows have selective memories about characters and their back-stories.


3.5 ‘Slow Happy Boys

“My vagina looks like downtown Baghdad right now” – Daisy

You’ll have to forgive my rather brief recap of this week’s Californication as the bank holiday weekend brings birthdays to celebrate, parties to attend and money to lose at the races meaning my time is somewhat limited this week.

This was quite a bawdy episode of Californication and for a show that is pretty bawdy at its quietest of times that is quite a bold statement.

Slow Happy Boys practically ditched the Hank-as-teacher storyline that has thus far been season 3’s big arc and instead focussed on our hero’s relationship with an old friend who’d come to visit Hank in LA.

We begin with Hank dropping the now ridiculously cartoonishly sullen Becca off at the airport to go and visit Karen in New York.

Seriously, I know Becca is supposed to be a grumpy emo teen but no teenager is that cold no matter how shitty they perceive their life to be. They are seriously in danger of ruining the whole Hank-Becca dynamic if her current personality remains for the foreseeable.

After waving off Becca in his incomparable style Hank headed over to arrivals to pick up old friend ‘Zloz’.

It turns out Zloz has finally looked up Hank after all these years as he had a big blow-out with his wife and fancied partying with the master to blow off some steam.

Zloz was played by Kevin Corrigan, who was the best thing on the criminally underrated and underappreciated Grounded For Life and he played the role perfectly.

I did have a hard time buying Zloz as an old friend of Hank though, but I assume that was the point. The idea was surely to show how far Hank has come since his New York days and that Zloz was what could have been if Hank hadn’t “got out”. So while it’s hard to buy Zloz and Hank and even Corrigan and Duchovny as running buddies, Corrigan was perfectly cast as the NYC working class hero in this fish-out-of-water scenario.

The episode basically followed the debauched night out that Zloz craved and Hank, with a little help from Charlie, duly supplied.

First to Sue Collini’s party where we were introduced to Sue’s wheelchair bound husband who is an expert in the “oral arts”; this role was filled by the brilliant Stephen Root, who has appeared in so many great shows lately his CV must be practically glittering: True Blood, 24, Justified and now Californication.

Root’s appearance was brief but I sincerely hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him, because he does sleazy very well and this role, call me crazy, seems like a sleazy one.

After Zloz got in to a bit of trouble with a tranny in the hot tub (I would’ve made the same error because there is no way that woman had a cock) Hank whisked him out of there along with the bedless for the night Runkle (I’ll get to that in a minute) to Jackie’s strip club where more trouble ensued.

First though let’s tackle why Runkle happened to be locked out of his house again:

My prediction for the fall-out from last week’s episode for the Runkles was way off; Marcy not only most definitely wanted to revisit the sex she and Charlie had, she wanted it there and then in Sue Collini’s fantastically graphic S & M room - whoever invented and/or found that seat with the swinging dildos built into it needs some sort of medal.

Charlie’s sex drive had been somewhat diminished though following a visit from his former porn star lover Daisy who returned, with comedy inflated boobs, to inform Runkle she had contracted some gnarly STDs.

When Charlie finally spilled the beans to Marcy her reaction was to punch him in the face, thus he found himself back at the strip club with Hank as Zloz set about causing a massive brawl after he couldn’t resist sucking one of the strippers’ silicone-enhanced norks during a lapdance.

The morning after scene at Hanks was a scene of silent comedy genius as a groggy Hank awoke, fished his sunglasses out of the bathtub, found Charlie butt naked with two strippers in a bed, passed a small, fat, black stripper in his kitchen (my favourite part) and then discovered a passed out Zloz on his living room floor.

Hank of course awoke with Jackie next to him, and that is something that just bothers me. My obsession with Eva Amurri has diminished since we got to see her naked two weeks in a row so it’s not a jealousy thing.

There’s just something a little wrong about a guy as old as Hank effortlessly bedding a smoking hot stripper young enough to be his daughter, and the fact that she is now referring to “Dr. Henry Moody” as her “boyfriend” is all the more disturbing.

That said, the fact that she played along with Hank making Zloz think he’d been the one to bed Jackie was quite a sweet moment as she and Hank mouthed affection to each other over Zloz’s shoulder.

After sending off Zloz, who had a final reel revelation that he might actually be dying, hence the trip; Hank was surprised, as were we, to see Karen follow Becca out of the terminal doors.

The way Hank greeted her would lead one to believe that Jill, Felicia and especially Jackie are going to be rather pissed now Hank’s Juliet is back in town.

How long is she back for? That will have to be answered next week, but one thing is guaranteed: I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.

Other Quick Thoughts:

- If this supremely funny episode wasn’t already my favourite episode of the season, it quickly achieved that status the second I heard the late, great Warren Zevon’s ‘Werewolves of London’ used.

Any show that references and uses the music of Zevon as much as Californication has to be one of the best shows on TV whichever way you cut it.

- From the spoilery stuff I’ve seen for the season I’m almost certain Hank does end up bedding Felicia before the season is through, with Karen back in town I’m very curious to see how that tryst comes about.


3.6 ‘Glass Houses’

“…80's pop legend Rick Springfield is in there stealing your girl… Not Jessie's girl, your girl: Runkle's girl…” - Hank

‘Glass Houses’ was probably the weakest episode so far of this sublime, dare I say: best yet, season of Californication, but that's only because I set the bar so high when judging what has rapidly become my favourite show on television.

My feelings towards this episode are by no means negative but my ranking it as the weakest of the season thus far is more than likely down to the fact that ‘Glass Houses’ focused more on the dysfunctional family dynamic that Becca’s adolescence is causing rather than the more out and out comedy of the majority of recent episodes.

That’s not to say that this wasn’t a funny episode, because Californication is always funny – even in its darkest moments there are comic elements; ‘Glass Houses’ was also as endlessly quotable as ever – this season really has given us some incredible one-liners.

To advance the season though and get the show on course for the finale you can’t keep having brilliantly funny and debauched episodes without peppering in some dramatics, and ‘Glass Houses’ stood out to me as one of those necessary episodes to progress a season’s long-running arcs.

We began with Hank, Karen and Becca in a diner directly following last week’s closing revelation that Karen was back, albeit briefly, in La-la land.

As Hank and Karen reconnected Becca’s cartoonish surliness came to the fore again as the horrible little teen threw one of her now commonplace strops.

Karen duly decided that it was high time they were a family again and not in LA, Hank’s eyes practically lighting up as the words “New” and “York” were mentioned.

As one could probably have guessed Becca reacted somewhat poorly to this news as she would have to leave BFF Chelsea behind. The remainder of the episode featured Becca acting out against her parents, instead opting to spend time over at the Koons’.

This of course meant the return of Peter Gallagher as Dean Koons, who was sorely missed last week, and Embeth Daviditz as Felicia, who was not at all impressed to see Hank’s lady love back in town.

Although Felicia was featured heavily again this week after last week’s absence, the same cannot be said for Jill and Jackie, both of whom appeared only briefly as Karen sat in on Hank’s class. Hank’s awkward behaviour being enough to tip off Karen to the fact he was sleeping with one of the ladies in the room… which of course is half right.

Over in Runkle land meanwhile, Charlie made the mistake of inviting Rick Springfield over to the house to run lines ahead of an audition. Given how he’s already explained how much of a thing for Springfield Marcy had you’d really think he’d know better.

Needless to say after a very awkward dinner also involving Hank, Karen and Sue, Marcy ended up going to her room with Springfield to “listen to some records”.

This development at least gave Kathleen Turner’s Sue Collini something more substantial to do beyond the one-note vulgarity and matter of fact sexual proposition we have come to expect from her, as she tried to remind Runkle that sex is supposed to be a joyous thing.

Her theatrical simulation managed to put an abrupt end to Marcy and Springfield’s shenanigans and given the Runkle-ator something to think about, but where this leads for the Runkles remains to be seen.

Hank and Karen’s dinner was cut rather short as they received a phone call informing them that Becca and Chelsea had worked their way through bottles upon bottles of the Koons’ beloved wine stash.

On arrival at Dean Manor, Hank and Karen found themselves confronted with a rather drunk Felicia and a rather laissez faire Dean Koons which just infuriated Karen further.

This whole rather angry scene ended with Becca blowing chunks all over the Dean’s pants.

The episode ended with possibly the happiest moment of the season so far as Hank and Karen shared a moment and Hank finally shared a long awaited kiss with his true love.

But not before he uttered this series defining line about the vacuous nature of LA:

"L.A. is no place to raise a daughter… or a dad."


3.7 ‘So Here’s The Thing…’

“…You’re Runkle, you’d whack it to a cat dancing on Youtube.” – Sue

A recap of last night’s Californication coming up, right after a find a longer straw…

Thank God they didn’t show that scene is all I’ll say, because this is a show that certainly wouldn’t puss out of showing something like that, but at least we can all leave it to our imagination now what Charlie blowing, well Charlie, up Sue’s ass would look like. Yikes.

‘So Here’s The Thing…’ was, like last week’s episode, definitely a step towards getting the house in order, not just for Hank, but for the show as we head into the second half of the season.

It wasn’t as out and out funny as previous episodes this season but it was still big on laughs and featured appearances by all of the season’s recurring characters and two very funny guest appearances from Peter Fonda and the brilliantly funny Ken Marino.

Karen was once again gone from proceedings this week so there was no real follow up on last week’s closing clinch with Hank, other than Hank doing his best to ditch all the college ladies he’s been bedding so he can reunite his fractured family.

We were also sans-Marcy this week so there was little to no follow up on her dalliance with Rick Springfield last week but this did mean we got to see some Charlie and Sue gold for most of the episode.

An opening scene jog along Venice Beach served the purpose of getting across both Hank and Charlie’s disdain for L.A. and what the city of angels has turned them both into; both then spent the majority of ‘So Here’s The Thing…” doing their utmost to recapture what they had in the good old New York days – Charlie his killer instinct as an agent and Hank his beloved, but exceedingly dysfunctional family.

Hank endeavoured to break-off his ongoing trysts with Jackie, Jill and Felicia over the course of the episode and his first port of call was Jackie.

The student-turned-stripper took the news poorly to say the least and it marked a real turn around in the allure of Jackie both in the eyes of Hank and the viewer. When she first appeared she was the cool, casual and mysterious hottie but after Hank sampled the goods, and we all did as viewers, she kind of lost that mystique and has now turned into a rather annoying itch that Hank just can’t get rid of.

Her reaction to Hank dumping her was somewhat over the top and the whole uncomfortable scene was made even worse as Dean Koons walked in on Jackie with a face full of Hank’s crotch.

Peter Gallagher was again at his scenery-chewing best for his one scene of the episode and Jackie’s flirtations with him allowed some very funny lines to be spat – not least her complimenting of those infamous Gallagher eyebrows… A girl really could “get lost in them”.

Next up on Hank’s farewell tour was Jill, his hot T.A., again the chat didn’t go quite to plan as Jill spotted her commitment-phobic ex in the same restaurant acting distinctly commitment-friendly nowadays with a hot blonde.

Her freak-out allowed Hank to proffer a very funny STD monologue to said ex in which he implied the ex had given him some gnarly STD’s, as the new fiancĂ© stormed out, Jill sat and watched in delight but when Hank returned to the table he offered his second “so here’s the thing…” of the episode. One to go…

Hank’s final stop was round at the Koons’ to tell Felicia what was what. I don’t know what it is in Moody’s mind that makes him act the way he does but the one out of the three of them who actually didn’t seem too perturbed by the news of his reconciliation with Karen was the one he ended up bedding – how does that work!?

Maybe he couldn’t resist getting one over on uber-douche David Wilder, played deliciously by Ken Marino – his simulation of what a threesome may go like behind Felicia’s back was comedy genius – or maybe he couldn’t resist getting one over on the Dean. But of the three how does the cold, snooty bitch end up being the one to jeopardise everything with Karen!? This is Moody back to his destructive best.

The episode ended with the cartoon of the girl formerly known as Becca being caught by Hank with Chelsea and some random teenage boy in her bedroom whilst she stood guard outside the door. Hank naturally flipped causing Becca to also launch into one of her now commonplace tirades against everything non-Chelsea related.

If this wasn’t the most telling sign yet though that the young Koons is just using Becca to make her own life easier by taking advantage of her confused teenage mind then I don’t know what it will take for Moody junior to wise-up and realise who it is in the World that really cares for her.

Granted Hank has some way to go before he is even considered a good Father, but in his own backward way he does always try and do what he thinks is best for Becca.

The Charlie and Sue storyline this week involved Runkle trying to help Sue hang on to Sue’s oldest client, played knowingly by the legend that is Peter Fonda. Fonda was never mentioned by name, referred to only as “him”, but one assumes he was playing a slightly exaggerated version of himself.

Evan Handler has quietly been stealing the show this year as Charlie and it was nice to finally see him achieve a win for once rather than being shat on from a great height as he has been most of the season, and for most of the series for that matter.

Next week’s episode should be very interesting as we see whether Hank’s break-ups with his three campus lovelies stick and whether or not he decides to tell Karen about his bedding of Felicia.

One thing is for certain though: things will probably get a lot worse before they get better for Hank Moody as we head towards the end of this fantastic third season of Californication.

Bullet Points:

- I was disappointed by the lack of Mr. Collini again, especially given that the coke-blowing scene took place at Sue’s house. Hopefully we will see Stephen Root again in this role before the season ends.

- As stated above Ken Marino was great as turbo-douche David Wilder and came out with some brilliant lines, but for all his great dialogue he was shown up by Hank’s zinger of a put-down when he told him to “brew up” his “word tea” and “dip his balls in it”. It was funny in context anyway!

- It’s funny, a month ago Eva Amurri was my new dream woman but now I don’t even bat an eye when she saunters across my screen. It’s funny how the character someone plays on TV or in a film can affect how feel about them in real life, but I guess that’s a good thing – she must be doing something right as an actress!

- I loved Hank and Charlie’s running attire in that first scene and Hank’s soliloquy about how L.A. had made him and Runkle soft:

“L.A. has made us soft. You used to be able to run for Lexington Avenue with the best of them. Elbowing the investment wankers out of the way, your cell phone in one hand, mammoth ball sack in the other hand, Hollywood Reporter between your teeth… Not even breathing so you wouldn't inhale the fucking piss stench.”


3.8 ‘The Apartment’

“Nothing like the sound of a stripper's head on a hard-wood floor…” – Rick Springfield

‘The Apartment’ was probably the funniest episode of the season so far and, in a weird way, also one of the most heartfelt.

The action takes place, as the title would suggest, entirely in Hank’s “bordello” of an apartment, save for a shot of Karen in her place in New York as she and Hank talk on the phone. Over the course of the episode all of Hank’s chickens come home to roost, unfortunately all at the same time.

After some “Skypus interruptus” with Karen, the now ridiculously clingy and needy Jackie and two of her stripper friends turn up at Hank’s door looking to “party” – Hank’s attempted break-up with Jackie last week obviously not having taken.

Cut to a morning after scene that didn’t quite rival the one from ‘Slow Happy Boys’ but still raised a chuckle – the cheeto up the ass was a great visual gag.

Karen’s early morning phone call to Hank is then disrupted as Jackie discovers that one of her stripper buddies is comatose; this is merely just the beginning of Hank’s troubles though.

First Charlie and the caricature of Rick Springfield arrive for a meeting over Rick buying Hank’s Porsche, presumably as Hank is trying to prepare for the big move back east. Charlie seemed quite at ease with Springfield to say that he had recently made the beast with two backs with his beloved Marcy, or maybe that was just because he knows his job kind of depends on getting along with Springfield.

This was finally the Rick Springfield I’ve been waiting to see, he’s had some good lines previously but in ‘The Apartment’ almost every word he uttered was unadulterated genius - “Guess what? I shit a pint of blood this morning” being my favourite, along with Hank’s reaction – “why!?”

As Hank guilts Charlie into getting rid of the prone, naked stripper and Springfield gleefully assists, a knock at the door sends Hank scurrying to the peephole through which he spots Jill. Hiding the strippers, Charlie and Springfield in his bedroom, hank ill-advisedly lets Jill into his apartment.

Now buoyed with love more than ever after Hank’s diss of her ex-fiance last week Jill proceeds to profess her love for Hank before revealing that she is sans-clothes under her trench coat. Another knock at the door leads Hank to dump Jill in Becca’s room and again, foolishly, answer the door, this time to Felicia.

If things weren’t already bad enough for Hank, Felicia drops the bombshell that she’s revealed all about her dalliance with Hank in ‘So Here’s The Thing…’ to her husband Dean Koons, she to then began to profess her love for all things Hank.

After returning to his room to find Rick Springfield and Charlie spit-roasting one of the strippers, Hank heads to the balcony where, in a nice touch, Jackie is enjoying Mia’s book, which she of course stole from Hank.

Hank is then mortified to see Dean Koons standing in his apartment.

This allowed for some Peter Gallagher gold as Dean Koons began to rather graphically detail the problems in his marriage to an increasingly bemused Hank. Surprisingly Dean Koons wasn’t overly fuming at Hank for sticking it to his wife, instead being more philosophical about things.

His diatribe was cut short though after his comments about Felicia’s lack of enthusiasm for fellatio caused his wayward wife to come out from her rather poor hiding place under Hank’s dining table.

Hank’s apartment then became more like an episode of Dr. Phil, a scenario exacerbated further by the arrival of Becca and Chelsea. Becca soon discovered the rather naked Jill in her bedroom, Chelsea discovered Hank had boned her Mum and encouraged her Dad to man up, then a fire from one of the candles Rick Springfield had been using during his roasting session caused Charlie, Springfield and the strippers to evacuate Hank’s bedroom.

As all of Hank’s conquests bickered and discussed what a mammoth asshole he is, Hank stormed his bedroom and put out an actual fire, as opposed to the metaphorical ones he’d been dealing with all morning.

Some time after the commotion had died down, Becca sat in a near catatonic state amazed at how much of a screw-up her old man could be, but in a weird sort of way it kind of brought the two of them back together.

The way Becca defended Hank when the loathsome Chelsea referred to him as an asshole was sweet and showed just how much she loves her Dad, as much as she almost wishes she didn’t.

Her line about not being mad and likening Hank to a “big dumb dog” that shits on the carpet shows that she has accepted who her Dad is but she just wishes she understood why he is the way he is.

Hank explaining that he did what he did to make each of the women feel special might not stand up in court, but as an audience we know that he at least believes that’s what he was doing.

He was trying to show Jackie she could be more than a stripper, Jill that she wasn’t some undesirable destined to spend her life alone and Felicia that if she was intent on cashing in her free pass not to waste it on some uber-douche who uses phrases like “word tea”.

It was a touching, almost poignant moment to end an episode that was almost slapstick in some of the comedy that featured within it; needless to say the moment was typified Moody-style by the formerly comatose stripper wandering in to the room in just her tiny underpants enquiring to the whereabouts of her clothes – just another day at the Moody house then…

Bullet Points:

- No appearance for the brilliant Sue Collini this week, she wasn’t exactly missed but I can’t help but feel if she’d also happened to stumble upon the clusterfuck going on in Hank’s apartment that she’d have had a couple of amazing one-liners to fire off.

- I kept waiting and waiting for Karen to walk in on the debacle that was occurring – I know she was shown in New York as the episode began but I thought her concern for Becca could have been setting up a last reel appearance after a red eye flight in to LAX.

- I know he’s not really doing much else, but Rick Springfield has been so game throughout this season to just play himself as this drug-fuelled, sex obsessed asshole it really is surprising just how far, and low, he’s willing to go. I really hope it leads to something more for him because every time he appears this season he brings the funny, and hard.

- Was Becca leaping to Hank’s defence against the awful Chelsea the first signs of cracks in their friendship – we all know Chelsea is taking advantage of Becca but hopefully now Becca may start to see just what a damaging influence this girl has become on her life.

On the subject of Becca, although her teenage angst has almost been cartoonish at times this season, Madeleine Martin has done a splendid job of making Becca seem both young and innocent yet wise beyond her years; and her relationship with Hank is probably the show’s most touching aspect – hats off to both Duchovny and Martin for creating such a visceral relationship amidst all the debauchery.


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 clichĂ© 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.


3.10 ‘Dogtown’

“No matter what they say, bitches don't like it when you fuck other bitches…” – Charlie

Nothing much happened in ‘Dogtown’ to advance season 3 of Californication’s myriad still-dangling plot threads, but after a season jam-packed with guest stars and recurring roles it was nice to have an episode that allowed us to spend some quality time with the show’s five main characters: Hank, Charlie, Marcy, Karen and Becca.

After last week’s blow-out (pun intended) with Rick Springfield, Charlie found himself unemployed once again, so after clearing out his desk and a brief send-off from Sue, Hank decided to take his agent out on the town. Elsewhere in the L.A. night Karen and Becca were doing the same for the Runkle of the fairer sex, who was still smarting from her break-up with Springfield.

This certainly appeared to be Sue Collini’s last appearance on Californication and if it was it was rather poetic that it ended with a last “Collini out”. Kathleen Turner has been an unexpected joy this season and Sue has been a great character, bogarting most of the best lines in every episode she’s appeared, so her departure will be a shame, but to get back to tying things up for the show’s core characters it is a necessary evil I suppose.

Predictably Hank and Charlie headed to their philosophical and spiritual temple: the bar and began one of the show’s trademark, quotable, rapid-fire exchanges musing on life and love.

The usual wit and banter was punctuated by Hank telling the story of the time Karen made him breakfast after spending the night sat outside her ex, Bill’s house. This show of tenderness from Hank was interrupted by some asshole spilling a drink on Charlie and showing no real remorse for said action.

Never one to stand for poor manners, Hank would not let such behaviour go unchallenged and after being called a rather unpleasant sexual slur by the aforementioned asshole, Hank proceeded to plant a smacker on Charlie, whose mouth tasted like “a hobo’s taint”, and then land a punch on the offending asshole, degenerating proceedings into a bar fight that got our heroes ejected from the bar.

After picking themselves up off the street, the duo decided that a major bender was in order and headed out into the night.

Across town, Karen, Becca and Marcy’s meal was, thanks to copious amounts of wine, turning very much into a Marcy rant about her lack of success in the love department that was probably a little too graphic for Becca’s somewhat innocent ears.

Hank and Charlie’s bender then took a bizarre turn into a book store where they discovered a Hank Moody original on sale for $100, which they then endeavoured to steal in their drunken haze.

As Moody and Runkle planned their getaway they also discovered Julian Self’s latest tome on sale in the book store – Julian was of course played with great pomp by Angus MacFadyen last season. When they discovered it was retailing at $95, the drunken degenerates also decided to steal a copy of Julian’s book as well, along with some advertising signage.

As the Moody and Runkle men sprinted away from the scene of their crime, who should they stumble upon but the Moody and Runkle women. Detecting the drunken stupor their ‘better’ halves were in, the women declined the opportunity to join boy’s night and instead carried on with their “GNO” – that’s girl’s night out for all those of you who don’t speak L.A.

It was at this point that Hank and Charlie’s night took a more sombre turn, as they were held, and robbed, at gunpoint by two street punks in a liquor store.

During their near-death experiences both men saw their respective families and realised what colossal jerks they’d both been. Hank and Charlie then made a vow to right the wrongs they’d committed and win back their homes, but not before drinking… a lot.

Back at Hank’s flat, Becca proved to be wise beyond her years as she laid down some sage-like wisdom on Karen, who appeared to take on board what her daughter had so astutely picked up about her Father and his relationship with her Mother – this seemed to make Karen realise that they did all in fact belong together.

The next morning, Hank and Charlie woke up in Hank’s “piece of shit Porsche” and after Charlie’s vivid description of his hangover, which involved God jizzing all over his face, they headed home.

The episode ended with the symbolic act of Karen offering to make Hank a hangover breakfast, which effectively was her way of saying “I love you.”

Bullet Points:

- If that was the end of Sue Collini’s appearances on the show it would also seem to suggest that we will never get another appearance from her wheelchair-bound husband, who was played by Stephen Root.

It just seems bizarre that they managed to land a comic actor of Root’s calibre for such a small role – Go figure.

- Becca taking a phone call from Chelsea would seem to suggest that the two of them managed to iron out their differences after Becca blacked Chelsea’s eye last week – which is disappointing, Becca needs to be as far away from that girl as possible, even if Chelsea did show a glimpse of a softer side last week.

- There was some great music used in this episode – N.I.B. by Black Sabbath at the start as Hank drove his Porsche home and then Three Rounds and a Sound by Blind Pilot at the end of the episode over the credits.

- Only two weeks now until the finale – this season just seems to have flown by, it doesn’t seem two minutes since I was practically orgasmic after finding out Hank was back, never mind two and a half months. Worst of all, we’ll no doubt now have another ridiculously long wait until season 4 hits UK screens… Oh well.


3.11 ‘Comings & Goings’

"Dr. Drew says you could get a prolapsed anus from that shit" – Marcy

‘Comings & Goings’ was quite an apt name for the penultimate episode of Californication’s third season.

There were quite a few comings, in the sexual sense – although upsettingly for Hank, not from Karen in our opening scene – and their were several goings as recurring characters were seemingly given some closure as we head toward next week’s finale.

After finally making sweet, sweet love to his lady, Hank was dejected to discover that Karen had not quite ascended to orgasmic heights during their coitus; his demeanour helped out even less by news from Karen that he wouldn’t get a chance to make amends as they had a lunch date with Felicia.

As Hank, Becca and Karen arrived at the Koons residence, Hank spotted that the other guests at the dinner consisted of Jill and Jackie – as Becca observed “at least it won’t be a dull Saturday afternoon”.

As hard as it is to believe that Felicia would be able to persuade the whole “Ya-Ya Sisterhood” to attend this “luncheon”, I guess we just have to assume that the opportunity to do some serious Hank-bashing was too tempting to turn down.

Over at the Runkles, it was open house time as they desperately try to offload their house, after the somewhat awkward start to the day of Marcy walking in on Charlie getting reverse cow-girled off some wannabe Hollywood type on the floor - “you said not to mess up the bed…” the Runkles headed off to a bar so as not to scare off any potential buyers with their divorce stench.

As Hank’s women took turns taking shots at his character, including Karen who was enjoying the “appraisal of [Hank’s] little idiosyncrasies” it became apparent Hank wasn’t the only male guest at this little get-together as fresh out of rehab Richard Bates (Jason Beghe) arrived.

Although a sober Bates means we didn’t get to see him “tuck and do the pee-pee dance” again, we did discover that Bates was the professor that Karen had an affair with at college.

Now this development did seem to kind of come out of nowhere and whilst it was a little convenient that it happened to be Bates whom Karen had slept with, it was a nice turn of pace to see Hank as the one who had to deal with the jealousy of having to associate with one of his partner’s ex-lovers as opposed to Karen, who’s been having to do that all season long.

Jealous Hank is not a side of Moody’s character we’ve seen too often and his “too cool for school” exterior was momentarily dropped as Bates and Karen reminisced.

Speaking of jealousy, as Charlie and Marcy killed time whilst the open house took place it became clear Marcy had been a bit miffed to see Charlie at it with another woman. Their heart-to-heart of sorts was soon interrupted by a phone call from their real estate agent Sharon (Marcy’s ringtone still rather disturbingly being Jessie’s Girl) to inform them they’d had an offer on the house.

Back at the luncheon Hank’s character assassination continued as Bates continued to hog the limelight and the fickle attentions of Hank’s former admirers. Hank’s misery was somewhat curtailed though as a drunken Dean Koons arrived at his former residence in full civil war regalia intent on challenging Hank to a duel.

This of course gave us some more Peter Gallagher gold as the drunken Dean relentlessly pressured Hank into duelling with him, even if it was only with blanks.

Before the duel over at the Koons’, Charlie and Marcy reminisced about all the places they’d bumped uglies in their house. When it emerged they’d never christened the powder room, they took it upon themselves to ensure no room was left “uninitiated” – which was always going to end badly, and it did as Charlie broke “bathroom boning 101” and knocked the sink off the wall during his thrusting, injuring his back in the process.

Seeing her lovable idiot of a husband prone on the floor, and spying his Marcy butterfly tattoo from last week’s episode seemed to have some sort of effect on Mrs. Runkle as she realised she still loved “retarded and sweet” Runkle.

The duel meanwhile soon descended into chaos as the Dean, Hank and Bates got into a three-way fist fight and rolled around like children on the floor much to the delight of the ladies in attendance.

After Hank had cleaned himself up, the dinner date Felicia dubbed a “fabulous disaster” which could also have been referring to her relationship with Hank, seemed to be all but over.

That word “passionate” which had been banded about all afternoon reared its head again as Hank described the Dean’s determination to win back his lady and with that Felicia bid Hank farewell and went in to the house to take care of the General – in more ways than one no doubt.

Seeing Jill and Jackie now enamoured with Bates can’t have done Hank’s ego any good but it at least proved how transitional his relationships with the two women were. Only a couple of weeks back they were both professing their love for him, now they practically walk right through him to get to the next bad boy professor on campus.

And with that all the campus-based recurring characters strolled off into the sunset with things almost back to normal as they had been before Hurricane Hank blew through the halls – as Felicia said “nothing really changes”.

The arrival of divorce papers put everything back into perspective for the Runkles and as Charlie made a last ditch plea for Marcy to give it another shot, Marcy’s comment that “there’s always a shitty part with us” left things ambiguous on that side of the Californication spectrum – the papers remained unsigned as the Runkles hugged it out on the sofa – will they give another go?

I’d hate to see them separate, as together they are the source of most of the shows more vulgar and debauched scenes and jokes, so hopefully next week’s finale will see the Runkles back together, at least until the next “shitty part” anyway.

With the episode ending with Hank and Karen seemingly in a good place and ready to move to New York, I shudder to think what fresh hell will arrive next week to spoil the party, but knowing that a certain plagiarising former Moody conquest returns before the season ends I dare say I could hazard a strong guess…

Bullet Points:

- Jason Beghe’s gruff voice is one of the best on TV, rivalled only by Max Martini maybe.

Every line he delivers makes me laugh just because of the tone of his voice – “for fuck’s sake Moody, stop fucking around” was my personal favourite from this episode.

- The Becca-Chelsea relationship seemed like it was going to be quite pivotal to the season at one point but it sort of just faded into the background recently. Perhaps their brawl ended any chance of them ever being BFF’s but I guess their shared dysfunctional families ensure they will always have something to bond over.

- I never thought they’d be able to top Callum Keith Rennie as a guest star from last season but in Peter Gallagher and Kathleen Turner this season they just about managed it.

I’ve waxed lyrical about Turner previously, as I have with Gallagher, but as this seemed to be the last appearance of Dean Koons; Gallagher deserved some praise one last time.

- ‘Comings & Goings’ did a great job of balancing storyline development and laugh-out loud humour, something that the show has struggled with at times this season. Episodes have either been stand-alone comedy pieces or gone slightly drama-heavy so it was great to see them actually strike the perfect balance with this episode, making it one of the, if not the, strongest episode of the season so far.


3.12 ‘Mia Culpa’

“That's the thing about secrets… They have a funny way of coming out." – Mia

A serious episode quote for a serious episode - that was a dark, dark episode of Californication but what a sublime half hour of television it was.

‘Mia Culpa’ was a million miles away from the rather light-hearted season we’d had up until now, from the moment the recap montage featured Mia you knew that Hank’s dream of returning to New York as a family was not going to go smoothly.

Stephen Hopkins was on directorial duty and after Sky1’s Thorne: Sleepyhead we are well aware that he is very adept at handling dark subject matter. Don’t misunderstand me, ‘Mia Culpa’ was by no means as dark as Thorne but for a show that has been almost slapstick at times this season, this was a very dramatic turn of pace.

Even the show’s opening credits were jettisoned for this episode, possibly to wring every last second of running time they could out of the gamete of emotions that Hank and our characters experienced in ‘Mia Culpa’ or possibly because the credits are quite light in tone and would have been too much of a contrast to the heavier nature of this episode; either way, that cold opening was a harbinger of what was to come.

I’m not suggesting that ‘Mia Culpa’ was completely devoid of the humour and wonderful dialogue that Californication is normally stuffed with, but this was by far the most emotionally challenging episode of the show I’ve ever experienced.

The episode began with a rather creepy dream sequence in which Hank sat in an inflatable chair in a swimming pool like some aging rock star swigging from a bottle of liquor. Swimming around him were all of his recent conquests – Jill, Jackie and Felicia – all nude, giving Eva Amurri her last chance to gratuitously show off her magnificent fun-bags.

At the side of the pool sat Becca and Karen looking on with disdain looking very disturbing in vivid red coloured clothing – Becca looks a little like a demon child at the best of times but this was something else.

Hank awoke from his nightmare and headed to the kitchen where Becca and Karen were enjoying breakfast, together the family shared what would become one last happy meal together before things would be changed perhaps irreparably.

Because in a not-too-shocking twist Mia then swanned back into all their lives, back in the locality on a whistle-stop book tour promoting the paperback version of the book she stole from Hank.

Some people probably get pleasure from watching Hank squirm when presented with his past indiscretions, because the guy never learns does he? And although those initial scenes with Mia were just the right amount of awkward what was to follow you wouldn’t wish upon anyone, no matter how much of a douchebag they could be at times.

You see, Mia wasn’t alone, with her was her new manager/boyfriend played by Paul Raines himself James Frain, looking ten years younger with a shaved head and sporting a surprisingly decent US accent – although just to make me only see him as Paul Raines some more his character was named Paul.

Paul had discovered Mia’s little secret and planned to use the scandal surrounding the nature of the book’s release into the public domain to reignite interest in his now floundering client and girlfriend, citing a possible Oprah appearance – is he nuts!? Didn’t he see what she did to James Frey!?

Hank of course wanted no part of this and almost came to blows with the sleazy bastard – one thing I’ll say about Frain is that he plays a jerk-off extremely well.

From there we had a dejected Hank, as his world came crashing down around him – as viewers we probably still clung to the hope that maybe he could weasel his way out of this and keep the family from discovering the truth and ruining their move east but looking back at how drastically his demeanour changed I think it’s clear that from the moment Mia returned Hank knew this was going to be hanging over him forever if he didn’t come clean.

Another nightmare in which Karen and Becca left him in the pool with his former lovers as Hank called out for the love his life and daughter compounded the fact that this story, or at least this chapter, was not going to have a happy ending.

The next morning Karen told Becca to take a distant Hank out for a walk during which Becca revealed she was no longer a virgin, but she apologised for all her bratty behaviour over the course of the season and professed her undying love for Hank and Karen.

Hank took the news of his daughter’s cherry-popping surprisingly well but this little talk with Becca seemed to spur Hank on to try one last round of bargaining with Mia.

Just as he seemed to be getting through to her, Paul showed up and after a comment about Hank having sex with her when she was underage a brutal fight ensued in which Hank beat the shit out of Paul in Bill’s pool.

The violence was very graphic and uncharacteristic for Californication but it really worked in the context of this episode and the dark places it was exploring in Hank’s soul.

Paul’s parting shot as a battered and bloodied Hank headed home was “you’re fucked Moody, I’m calling the police”.

With no alternative Hank revealed all to Karen, or at least he revealed something to her that caused her to descend into an hysterical fit as the whole uncomfortable exchange was rather eerily soundtracked by Elton John’s Rocket Man so we never actually heard what was said.

Matters soon spilled out into the street and as Hank tried to hold onto Karen the police arrived, possibly due to Hank’s assault of Paul, possibly due to his statutory rape of Mia or possibly just because they saw a man and woman struggling in the street.

Whatever their reason for showing up, when Hank turned round and punched one of them as they tried to get him off Karen, there was no doubt Hank was getting hauled off in cuffs.

The episode ended with Hank being driven away in a squad car as an hysterical Karen and Becca looked on, we then cut to the dream sequence from earlier as Hank fell from the inflatable chair and sank into the pool, the last shot was of his bottle of liquor floating in the water and with that we faded to black for another season of Californication.

The lack of dialogue for the show’s longest running plot thread reveal should have harmed it but it really worked – I’ve never considered Rocket Man to be too much of an emotionally weighty song but boy did it ever give that scene a hell of a visceral punch.

All in all that was one hell of a season finale and for a show that is notoriously slow at moving along plot arcs a great deal seemed to happen in such a short space of time.

In addition to the Hank storyline that dominated the episode there were a couple of season four threads potentially set up for the Runkles. First their seemingly rekindled romance was left hanging under a cloud as Marcy signed the divorce papers and left them out for Charlie to sign – and after he offered to reverse his vasectomy for her, shame on you Marcy!

Secondly, in a welcome return, Kathleen Turner reprised her role as Sue Collini to ask Charlie to sell her memoirs, which will hopefully mean more Collini in season four and will give Charlie a 100% increase in clients to the grand old number of 2 for next season.

If this was the first episode of Californication you’ve ever seen then you probably think it’s a very different show to the rest of us; but irrespective of the contrast between the finale and the rest of the season, and hell, even series, ‘Mia Culpa’ worked on so many levels and was by far the most rewarding episode of the season and again, maybe even the series to date.

Bullet Points:

- A dark episode yes, but it wasn’t without some great one-liners. Hank calling Charlie a “fucktard” and then his reaction to hearing the names of a couple of young actors – “Evan Rachel who?” & “Michael who?” – were my personal highlights.

- in addition to Rocket Man, there was some more great musical moments in ‘Mia Culpa’ – The Faces’ Ooh La La as Hank, Karen and Becca enjoyed that last good breakfast was especially apt as the sound faded up on that great refrain “I wish I knew what I know now, when I was younger”.

Becca creepily reciting the words to Warren Zevon’s Carmelita in Hank’s nightmare was also a brilliant use of music and song lyrics – a cover of Carmelita could also be heard in the dream sequence.

- This review concludes my reviews for season 3 of Californication, but keep a look out on the site for my compendium which will feature each individual episode review and a general season overview which will be up soon.


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