Created by Tom Capinos
Starring David Duchovny, Natascha McElhone, Madeline Martin, Madeline Zima, Evan Handler
Many years back HBO had a series called Dream On that was about a middle aged man trying to find a path for his life with his kid and ex-wife along for the ride. The show was essentially a hipster sitcom with any depth shrouded in topless women. There was also a gimmick tied to that show where you’d find yourself inside the main character’s “dreams”. The show was actually quite sharp and funny but plenty of people passed by it because of all of the nudity just assuming that it was something like a comedic Red Shoe Diaries.
David Duchovny is back on television in a series that reminds me a lot of an even more hipster version of Dream On with the same amount of nudity but deeper drama at the same time.
Hank Moody (Duchovny) is stuck in a rut. He is a critically acclaimed writer who can’t seem to find the mojo to write another book. He believes his mojo has left him along with the one true love in his life, his ex-wife. So, he spends his life rolling in and out of bed with strange women, drinking, and basically being an unlikable person. This may be the toughest hump to get over for new fans of the series. Moody comes off like a real jerk for most of the first half of the season. Actually he’s always a jerk, but as the season progresses Moody shows himself to really care about the people around him. He may be a smartass but he does care for his family and friends.
Between bouts with writer’s block he struggles to maintain a relationship with his offbeat daughter who plays in a rock band and he tries to get his ex-wife back, who’s moved on to a new relationship. Eventually Moody realizes where his next great novel should be coming from and that’s when the melodrama kicks in because he’s stabbed in the back by someone close to him.
There are several side stories going on throughout the series that are all interesting and don’t at all feel like filler. The funniest of the side stories involves Moody’s agent getting involved in sort of an affair with his secretary. As I said earlier Moody’s daughter is great and his wife has her own side story as she tries to get back into working in architecture, something she’s been away from for a long time.
Californication is sharp and funny if a little too emo at times. It can also come off wanting to be cleverer than it actually is here and there too. Overall though it’s easy to invest in these people as they all have strong chemistry the writers do a great job of making them feel real in very unrealistic situations. The box calls this “season One” inferring that there will be a season two but to date the show ahs not returned to Showtime and based on the ending of season one it really doesn’t have to. The season finale feels like one of those finales where the creators were warned that their series may get canceled so they rushed to tie the show up. The final two episodes do feel rushed but if the show doesn’t come back the story arcs get finished in the season allowing you to buy this box set and enjoy it without fear that the stories in it will just be cut off.
The video presentation is fairly solid featuring good colors and detail in brighter scenes. The darker scenes get a bit grainy and murky crushing the detail a bit. It’s a very typical television presentation.
Again the Dolby Digital presentation here is basic but it gets the job done. Balance is solid and dialogue always comes though clean and clear. Again not a demo series for a home entertainment system but good enough to enjoy the series.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The cover art for the box is a bit basic, even a little cheap feeling but the art does attempt to define Moody’s character. There’s not a lot in the way of bonus features here other than commentaries that feature Duchovny giggling and making jokes. Now these commentaries do show just how much fun he and the creators had making this series. There are also sample episodes of other Showtime series on the last disc so you can check them out before buying those box sets. Honestly I’d rather have just Netflixed those shows and been given more bonus features related specifically to Californication.
Overall (Not an Average) 7.5/10
The Series 8/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 3/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7.5/10