Review: Californication - Mr. Bad Example
by Danny Gallagher, posted Nov 23rd 2009 4:01PM
(S03E09) "I had a plan, I did, but it just didn't work out the way I thought it would."/"What? You thought he'd (Hank) do a good job of being in charge?" - Karen to Becca
Remember watching Friends and feeling that great sense of heavy letdown when you realized that week's diversion of reality would be a "Joey-heavy episode"?
That describes this week's Californication to a tee, except the great sense of heavy letdown doesn't quite sit on top of your soul with the girth and grim sadism of an evil sumo wrestler.
Now that Hank's former flings are starting to come back to haunt him in the wake of last week's funny farce, this week represents the consequences of his sordid actions. That means a lot of long boring sitdowns with the prospective people he's wronged and some really confusing reactions to his situation. In other words, it's everything you hate about those other shows lumped into a show that you watch to get away from those other shows.
Maybe I'm being a little unfair. Every season, Hank makes some dumb mistakes and choices and has to face the consequences of his actions, even more so that he's a father and about to become a husband (or so he thinks) and at least a couple of episodes have to deal with those consequences. This time, they did have a different and interesting element with Hank's daughter, Becca, thrown into the cocktail.
Sleeping with the Dean's wife is about as big of a mistake as you can make. And when their prospective daughters' try to stand up for their family's honor by getting in a schoolgirl catfight that gets them thrown out of school, shouldn't Hank be feeling something? His lackadaisical attitude towards his situation and even his own relationships really drag down the rest of the show. The final scene with him and Felicia as she drives off into the sunset of her marriage went by so dry that I hardly noticed it and had to rewind it a couple of times just to force my short attention span to watch it.
He really felt cold and almost uncaring about the whole situation, almost like he was literally high the whole time. Sure, maybe it makes his decision about moving to New York easier on him and the rest of his family, but shouldn't he feel the least bit responsible for driving his daughter to delinquency at the hands of her best friend? Even that bitch Chelsea had more than a black eye coming the whole season.
What's even worse are how the women in his life still put up with him and act surprised when he screws the pooch or whatever happens to wander into the field of vision of his crotch. I'm sure Becca and Karen have a deep-seeded love for the poor bastard, but it really doesn't feel like the show is moving Hank's character along much, if at all.
The upside is Charlie Runkle. He has his final showdown with Rick Springfield after literally fingering through a college drug dealer's sex toy cabinet for some free blow and ends up throwing away his career in order to win back his dignity and hopefully, his ex-wife.
I find myself rooting more and more for Charlie with every episode. He's got a great everyman quality to him that makes him easy to like, even if he is the most pathetic white man in the history of the Northern Hemisphere. However, he is willing to at least attempt to make a change for the person he cares most about, which is more than I can say for Hank.
- Rick Springfield, playing himself as the evil Rick Springfield, has really thrown himself into his character and instead of just playing the real Rick Springfield, he really has become a lecherous, mean bastard who you can really hate and that deserves some applause.
He does a great job of breaking the celebrity TV show cameo mold where the star plays a mildly mean or slightly egotistical version of themselves. Anybody who pays a stripper to yell out their name while they are having sex and orders his agent to score him drugs should win the "Golden Douchebag" award every week.
- Not that this is a big deviation from this season's decent plot, but don't Hank and Charlie have a book to publish or press palms with around Lalawood? It's only Hank's, um, livelihood, other than his must-be-meager college professor salary.
I have a hard time believing Hank is paying the bills on a California teacher's paycheck, unless this is some bizarro universe where California is the most prosperous state in the union, Pontiac has swept the Car & Driver awards and wolves hunt Sarah Palin from a helicopter.