Saturday, 29 October 2011

Californication 4.4 'Monkey Business'



“Dead monkeys and auto-erotic asphyxiation, that’s my cue.” – Stu

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I’m a little torn over ‘Monkey Business’, on the one hand it had some of the biggest laughs of this season so far, mined a really dark brand of comedy – which I dug – and had some genuinely great little moments.

On the other hand though, a large section of the episode was devoted to gags derived from an obscene monkey, which firstly felt distinctly cliché and secondly straight out of someone like The Farrelly Brothers playbook.

Californication should be, and is, capable of much better than cheap laughs from Charlie (who else?) getting monkey faeces thrown at him.

The majority of the episode was spent with Hank, Charlie and Stu at the Fucking and Punching movie’s sugar daddy Zig’s house. Zig of course was about the most off the wall character the show’s ever depicted and was no doubt a swipe at Hollywood big wigs that live these abnormal lifestyles.

After a meeting at a bar where we got a flavour of Zig’s eccentricities – “I haven’t had an erection in the past decade but that’s another story” – it was back to his mansion for a reading. Cue surreal humour, a barrage of one liners and an asphyxi-wank death.

The banter at the mansion and the dark, surreal laughs drawn from Zig’s lifestyle and unfortunate demise were the episode’s best bits and anything away from there felt decidedly weak, even if both major storylines away from the party actually advanced the season considerably.

First the worst kept secret in TV land, Marcy’s blatant pregnancy, was finally confirmed and then we had Karen meeting a brooding love interest in Michael Ealy’s Ben – the father of one of Becca’s band mates.

Events at Zig’s mansion did also serve a purpose to advance the most predictable storyline in TV land as lady-lawyer Abi seemed to be warming up to Hank’s charms considerably. She appears to have a begrudging respect for Hank’s life as well as a morbid curiosity in to how one man can fuck up so much.

For such a raucous episode it all ended quite sombrely though with Hank driving off in to the night after spotting Karen getting flirty with Ben.

I almost feel bad for being negative about an episode I genuinely laughed quite hard at but my expectations for my favourite shows are often far too great.

For one reason or another, season four hasn’t quite clicked for me just yet in the way that season three did almost instantly.

A Hail of Bullets:

- At first I thought that they could have got someone bigger to play the role of Zig, a name actor who could have really sent themselves up and chewed the scenery. However when I saw his death and the fact his corpse remained hung on the back of a bathroom door for so long it became apparent why the role might not have been that appealing.

Kudos to Fisher Stevens though for really attacking the role with such vigour, he really was fantastic. Stevens is probably best known to audiences for playing George Minkowski on Lost but he also won an OSCAR in 2010 for his documentary The Cove.

I did at one point feel that Zig may have been a Charlie Sheen parody with his two woman-servants but this episode would have aired in the US just before Sheenmania kicked off earlier this year. Still Zig had most of the episodes best lines, asking Hank “You’re quite the cocksman no?” and then hilariously telling one of his “sister wives” “you give lousy head, you’re timid and you lack focus, we gotta get you some Ritalin”.

- Charlie also got a great line in this episode, remarking “that monkey was a deviant and a cockblocker”.

- Other nice moments/lines included the monkey raising his hand along with everyone else when the group was asked “who wants to get baked?” and the ‘sister wife’ Charlie tried to have his way with telling him that the monkey “tried to finger my friend Jess one time”.

I also loved the whole scene in which Hank found Zig’s body, first him singing “eat my peach baby blow on my dice” which was a nice call back to last season. Then his understatement of the year telling Charlie “we’ve got a bit of a predicament in here” and finally his good advice that you should “always use the buddy system” when attempting a “choke and stroke”.

- Bizarrely Zig appeared to have a penchant for 80s UK electro music with Soft Cell’s ‘Tainted Love’ & Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘Relax’ soundtracking the weirdness at the mansion.

- Anyone else think Hank probably shouldn’t have been driving his car after telling Abi that he was “significantly” high?

Californication Season 4 continues in the UK Thursday @ 10pm on 5*


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