q TV Review: Californication - Moody Bugger, Or Manic Minchin Makes Move - Bruce Dennill

TV Review: Californication – Moody Bugger, Or Manic Minchin Makes Move

August 9, 2015



Californication: The Sixth Season / 18LSD


It’s difficult to be committed to change when what you’re good at being committed to is hedonism. Series Six of Californication sees drinking, drugging, shagging novelist Hank Moody given a chance to nail down a huge project that will give him financial security and restore his professional reputation, both of which may help him to restore his shaky relationship with Karen (Natascha McElhone).

Predictably, Hank messes it up – if he didn’t, the whole concept of the show would collapse. Knowing that he’s going to fall into yet another inappropriate affair, take yet more remarkably stupid advice and stare the right choice squarely in the face before kneeing it in the groin and stepping over its prostrate body makes watching the series like observing a slow-motion multicar pile-up.

Duchovny is, as ever, in fine form, giving Hank just enough gravitas and sensitivity – in his best moments – to believe that he could one day, finally, deliver on his potential, before making a sequence of terrible decisions that takes him back to square one.

He’s matched – and occasionally exceeded – in the immaturity stakes by Atticus Fetch (Tim Minchin), the manic musician tasked with turning Hank’s book into a Broadway rock opera. Fetch’s coke-fuelled behaviour occasionally exceeds even Hank’s capacity for intemperance, which leads to some funny, bizarre and often scandalous (even by Hollywood standards) setpieces, including a liaison at a funeral. In the cemetery…

Hank also has to deal with the idea of his daughter Becca (Madeleine Martin) wanting to follow in his footsteps – a rare connection for him as a parent, but a horrifying proposition as a father who, despite all his failings, does care for those closest to him.

Californication is compelling viewing that somehow manages to deliver a little edification through a fog of sex, swearing, booze, lies and drugs. That takes some doing, and the show’s writing remains strong and edgy, delving into the darkest corners of its characters and discovering, misplacing and then rediscovering the possibility of redemption.

Where to go from here, though? Any more of what Hank goes through in Season Six will likely kill him, or at the very render him incapable of functioning – even at the diminished level at which he chooses to operate.