Californication: Second Season
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When we last left transplanted New Yorker and "debauched moralist" Hank Moody (David Duchovny), he was reunited with his ex-girlfriend and runaway bride Karen (Natascha McElhone) and his beloved daughter Becca (Madeleine Martin). Sounds like the makings of a happy-ever-after ending, but Hank's life is no fairy tale. Or maybe it is. Though a total screw-up, he remains irresistible to a bevy of women who throw themselves at him, from the nurse participating in his vasectomy to an A-list prostitute ("You really got under my skin, Hank Moody"). The new Hank is determined to make grown-up and responsible decisions, but before the dust has settled on the season opener, he once again finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong woman, albeit accidentally. No wonder Karen needs time to mull over his marriage proposal. Californication takes as jaundiced a view of Southern California hedonism as did the classic 1975 film Shampoo.
In season 2, fast-laner Lew Ashby (Callum Keith Rennie), a legendary music producer, recruits Hank to be his biographer. Hank's agent Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler) is fired from his agency and takes a fledgling female porn star under his wing. Charlie's wife Marcy (Pamela Adlon) becomes a coke fiend. Seventeen-year-old Mia (Madeline Zima) becomes a critics' darling when Hank's manuscript, which she stole in season 1, is published. Sonja (Paula Marshall) the Scientologist is pregnant and Hank may be the father. Duchovny's laid-back charm imbues Hank with what one character calls "infuriating magic." As the precocious Becca tells her mother, "You have to love him for who he is, not his potential." For all its explicit language and graphic sex, Californication is a compelling character study of a seriously flawed man-child. To quote a review of Mia/Hank's book, "It isn't about sex, but loneliness. It's hauntingly hopelessly romantic in the best sense of the word." Big ups! --Donald Liebenson
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Top Customer Reviews
Definitely not for the prudish though - be prepared for nudity, sex, swearing and plenty of drug use.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I don't feel that the 2nd season tried to be as funny as the first. That's what made the 1st season so enjoyable, nonstop laughs in every episode. This season is far more dramatic and has a plot that starts to develop, instead of the sex, drugs, and comedy that season 1 was about. That is why I think people didn't like it as much, because the "originality" of the 1st season wasn't duplicated as much; but how long do you think the writers could go with Hank sleeping with random women left and right before it got old. I feel this season shows the development of Hank Moody far better than season 1 had created.
Nontheless, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and if you listen to mine- you'll buy this set and enjoy your purchase...but please don't expect the same tone that season 1 created...I think the show is heading in a better direction
Hank was a bright, talented guy who, like many of his generation, seemed powerless to consummate a functional relationship with his one great love, played by Natascha McElhone.
This very-public struggle was waged on the quintessential battlefield of urban decadence and moral relativity, Los Angeles; a place where he appeared to be both victim and willing co-conspirator.
The drugs, the endless sexual escapades, the chain-smoking, the hard drinking and the lawless swagger of a rock star on the verge of another overdose all peppered his course to self discovery like a series of land mines.
Kapinos nailed the arrested adolescence of many older single men with more than their share of talent, good fortune...and too much time on their hands.
So in this birthplace of pathological narcissism, here was this intensely desirable renegade in search of a better destiny...or mother, as the case may be...and everyone [the audience] was happy.
But that was season ONE.
The second time around things started to unravel. The psychological components that gave the show life began to morph into a series of clichés that reminded me of an alcoholic who repeatedly calls to apologize for behavior he's powerless to prevent.
In the end, the behavior becomes as predictable as it is boring, and as a result, I started to resent Hank's helplessness. It also seemed to be contagious, because every member of the supporting cast was some way, somehow victimized by their own absurdly preposterous foibles.
In the end, the edges were wearing thin and the show had started to edge closer to a parody of itself.
Californication has been granted a third season, and I hope this time around Tom and company focus more on Hank's inner evolution - or devolution - if that works in some ironic way.
The endless - if improbable - sex, drugs, and rock and roll are always good sellers, but character development is far more satisfying.
Where the hell is that wormhole, anyway?
The 1st Season of the show was about the existential angst of Hank Moody. His edgy, angry first novel (and only highly-acclaimed work) has been optioned by Hollywood studios and transformed into a miserably predictable romantic comedy; his former soulmate is set to marry a rich corporate goon; his daughter, mirroring her father, has gone into a dark, teenage funk; and his literary manager, while still Hank's friend, has grown tired of his Hank's inability to produce any substantive work.
In contrast, the 2nd Season is about Hank getting virtually everything that he dreamed of ... he has reunited with his soulmate; he has reestablished a strong relationship with his daughter; he has rediscovered some of his literary mojo. But, ironically, despite all of his wishes coming true, he is still a drowning man because he completely unprepared to take responsibility for getting what he wished for. He is haunted by the choices he made prior to all of his dreams coming true. And the realization that he cannot handle what he wished for causes him to meltdown in numerous ways.
I believe that this season, which maintained some of the wonderfully bizarrre elements of the 1st Season, actually gives us deeper insight into many of the characters and seemed much less episodic. As other reviewers have said, there may be fewer laugh-out loud moments. But there are substantially more moments that make us consider the choices that all of us have to make in regards to careers, romantic relationships (and entanglements) and friendhips.
Bravo, Showtime. Between Weeds, Dexter and this series, we're glued to the televisions!
But this is Hank we're talking about, and it doesn't take him long to mess up (albiet accidentally) and the same familiar cycle begins again. When Karen turns down his marriage proposal, Hank leaves and takes up residence with music producer/man child, Lew Ashby whose biography he is writing. Ashby shares many traits with Hank, including being haunted by "the one that got away", a woman that Lew sacraficed in exchange for his fast paced lifestyle. He and Hank form a bond out of their shared loneliness and self-destructive behaviors that gives season 2 even more of a bruised heart feel than the first.
Despite the empty place in Hank's heart, and his efforts to change his patterns of behavior, this season is no mere naval gaving mope fest. Several other plots percolate around our anti-hero. Becca begins dating, Charlie is fired from his job and becomes involved with an aspiring porn star, his wife succombs to her cocaine addiction again and Hank tracks down the love of Lew's life all while facing the possiblity that he may be a father; and no, Karen is not the mother. All of these plot threads weave together for a hilarious and moving examination of broken hearts and unrealized dreams. Plus it's even raunchier than the first season, which is saying a lot.
Ultimately, though, Californication is not just about sex, drugs and fast times. It is a study of how people use these very things to fill in the empty places left by heartbreak and disappointment. The fact that it is able to convey these things while at the same time being enormously funny and entertaining makes it one of the best shows on tv right now.
I await all of the problems and how he skates around them....what a doll....even when he pushes the "broads" away, they somehow manage to sabotage the moment...and I can appreciate that he is so kind hearted and really makes an attempt to stay out of trouble and it always finds him.
The language is colorful and delightful and perfect for all of their roles in whatever the situation comes along.
Can you tell that I love the series and all of the scenerios that keep appearing. Great job, all of you that are involved in Californication. Kudos and accolades.