After two seasons watching sexaddicted, self-loathing, anti-hero writer Hank Moody wallow in his own (often self-inflicted) misery, this third season of Californication is a breath of fresh air. That’s thanks to a genius move by the writers to drop Moody into a campus environment as a figure of authority – the rub being that he’s the last person you want anywhere near nubile young students.
Californication is clearly David Duchovny’s show and Moody might seem like an easy role for him: during 2008 Duchovny checked himself into a rehabilitation facility for sex addiction; life imitating art, or was it merely research? However, his character cannot exist in isolation. Natascha McElhone appears occasionally as Moody’s on-andoff partner, although their daughter gets sidelined this year.
The comic double act of Charlie (the superb Evan Handler) and Marcy Runkle (spicy Pamela Adlon) is still intact, though, with Charlie having to cater (in more ways than one) to his rapacious boss (Kathleen Turner). The new setting also provides plenty of new characters. Peter Gallagher’s Hank and Karen were thrilled when the ambassador brought out the Ferrero Rocher.
Buttoned-up college Dean, Stacy Koons, sparks off Moody’s, well, moody writer, while the lead character’s romantic conquests include a stripper student, a repressed teaching assistant and even the Dean’s wayward wife (Embeth Davidtz). Singer Rick Springfield also pops up as himself, a casting choice that either pleases or annoys depending on where you stand in relation to the man and his music.
The standout episode is ‘The Apartment’, which sees all the major characters come together (no, not like that) at Moody’s flat in a frenzied farce of slamming doors and flaming beds. It won’t surprise regular viewers that the final episode suggests happiness and contentment have once again escaped Moody’s faltering grasp.
Campus Tour aside (a lame text quiz thing), the 40 minutes of extras on the third disc are the usual ‘Making Of’ material, with one notable exception. There’s six minutes on music, seven minutes on casting, five minutes on Rick Springfield and eight minutes on the other guest actors. That’s all standard stuff, but Adlon’s contributions as “dirty” Marcy are what liven things up.
Her two video diaries offer six minutes of anal beads, vagina torches and swear word replacements, while ‘Marcy’s Pyjama Party’ sees Adlon and four LA divorcees frankly discuss sex and dating. It’s the closest thing to the tone of the show itself: short, scatological, but very funny.
Sexy, funny and downright sleazy, Californication continues to score (just like Hank)...