Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Californication: ". . .a little turgidity. . . "


David Duchovny (Hank) is so hot on this show. His character proves that bad boys are just that: bad. Women fall over him, because when it comes right down to it, everyone likes the taste of scotch and cigarettes on a man's breath. And he likes to fight, too. All to bury his pain of being alone and separated from his ex-girlfriend (the lovely Natascha McElhone) and daughter (the scene-stealing, adorable Madeleine Martin).

This show is about dialogue, but it's Hank's show. Everyone else is given stupid lines: "Once upon a time, I used to love you," his ex-girlfriend (the lovely Natascha McElhone) says. Gawd.

The production values aren't nearly as good as Mad Men; it feels a little like it was done on the cheap, except for the gorgeous house where his ex-girlfriend lives with her fiance. But other details seem very Pier One to me. And yeah, I get the point of the burnt out Porsche he drives, or was that all they could afford? But to its credit, there's not the same level of shameless product placement we see on Entourage. Yet.

The show does one thing very well: banter; it's not so good at plot. Or maybe it's too soon to tell. There are arcs and story lines for each of the characters, but as they inch along, they feel a bit forced and bit stolen: Hank's agent's secretary likes to be disciplined. Where have we seen that before: oh yeah, Secretary.

There's a voiceover stream of consciousness technique where Hank comments on his life, kind of like a more literary Carrie from Sex and the City. Is that his conscious, his autobiography, his blog, or some poetry hidden a drawer?

But when it shines, it shines, because it's brave. Hank is not any sort of latent homo, but there's a sweet moment when he's lying on his agent's couch, just kind of rambling, as though he were an analysand, and he's reflecting about a massage he got from a guy where, he admits, he got a little "tingling", and he wonders what it means, ". . .a little turgidity. . ." That's a nice turn of phrase and a nice metaphor for this show--it's sort of confused, excited, halfway to some sort of libidinous epiphany. I like it.

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