Californication -- A look at the pilot script
"Following in the footsteps of the successful and highly-acclaimed series Dexter, Weeds and Brotherhood, Showtime has ordered 12 half-hour episodes of a stylish new comedy series schedule to premiere in August. [...] Sophisticated and unique, this comedy centers on novelist Hank Moody ([David] Duchovny) who struggles to raise his 13-year-old daughter (Madeleine Martin), while still carrying a torch of his ex-girlfriend Karen ([Natascha] McElhone). His obsession with truth-telling and self-destructive behavior -- drinks, drugs and relationships -- are both destroying and enriching his career."
I had also heard that the David Duchovny we grown to love in The X-Files was in a totally opposite role if we compared Hank Moody to Fox Mulder. With that info in hand, I started my reading.
After reading the script, I can tell you that none of us will see Duchovny the same way. Actually, those of us who always see Mulder when he is on screen may be quite disturbed when watching Californication.
Not having Showtime available in my area, I never watched Dexter, Weeds or Brotherhood, so I cannot compare Californication to those. However, I can tell you that this new Showtime series has a few similarities with Nip/Tuck, especially when sex scenes and racy stories are concerned. I stopped counting how many times Hank has sex with a different woman in the pilot but let's say that he could be seen as the Christian Troy of Californication. Hank is as screwed up inside as Christian is and loves sex (and, from my understanding, uses sex as a way to escape reality) as much as the Nip/Tuck character does.
The pilot script introduces us to 30ish-year-old Hank Moody. When we first meet him, he is entering a church and wants to speak with God in order to get guidance as his life is getting off track. He is stopped mid-conversation with God by a really hot nun who offers to perform a certain sex act with him. Even if this is a dream sequence, it helps set the tone of the show and let the viewer know how screwed up Hank Moody is. He sleeps with various women including a woman who is cheating on her enraged and muscular husband and a 16-year-old girl who he thinks is in college. Moody also has to interact with ex-wife Karen (note that in the press release they said she was his ex-girlfriend) who still seems to love him but knows that he is not what she needs and wants right now. With her, they share custody of their 12-year-old daughter (again, a discrepancy between script and release) Madeleine who is wise beyond her years but is starting to have a sex life (mostly to fit in), which freaks out both of her parents. To add to Moody's problems, Karen has accepted her boyfriend's wedding proposal!
Hank also has to cope with the fact that he wrote one highly popular book that was made into a hit movie that he hates. Right now, he is faced with a sort of blank page syndrome and doesn't seem to be on the right path to write another hit novel.
Once I finished the script, I replayed the scenes in my head and tried to find the funny moments. After analyzing it, I'm not sure the series can be qualified as a comedy. I mostly thought that it was a drama with a hint of comedy and a whole lot of racy scenes that would never see the light of day except on cable TV.
In all, the series seems interesting. Especially if you like twisted and dark characters, racy storylines and sex scenes à la Nip/Tuck. As I've said in my intro, fans of Duchovny must do their best not to think of Fox Mulder when watching this as they may find the series not fitting at all. For sure, it seems to be a series right up Showtime's alley. It'll be interesting to see how fans react to it when it finally hits the small screen.