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CALIFORNICATION: SEASON 4...Guest Review by Harris
Throughout all of "Californication" there have been two constants: Hank Moody’s (David Duchovny) relationships with his ex-girlfriend Karen and his daughter Becca (Natasha McElhone and Madeleine Martin respectively) and the sword of Damocles that is the ingenue and his would-be disciple, Mia Lewis (Madeline Zima).
In Season 1, Hank slept with Mia, unaware that not only was she 16 years old, but also the daughter of the man who was engaged to Karen, and he has been desperately trying to keep the news from Karen and Becca ever since. Complicating matters, Mia stole an unpublished manuscript Hank had written about the affair and plagiarized it as a tell-all memoir called "Fucking and Punching". Season 3 ended with Karen learning about Hank’s affair and Hankbeing dragged to jail for assaulting a cop.
Season 4 starts approximately 72 hours after the finale of Season 3 and Hank’s life has been thoroughly ruined. His affair with Mia is the number one story on all the gossip sites, his relationship with Karen is in tatters, and he’s facing statutory rape charges. Meanwhile, "Fucking and Punching" has been optioned as a movie even while its true authorship is an open secret. To make matters worse, the producers insist on hiring Hankas a script doctor and consultant in order to tap into the controversy surrounding him... despite the potential damage that this could bring to his upcoming trial.
Unlike last season’s painfully slow story, Season 4 moves at a brisk clip; watching Hank finally being forced to deal with the consequences of his actions is fun. Naturally, his inability to keep his dick in his pants - he is Hank Moody after all - means that he’s chronically incapable of not making things even worse for himself. Hank’s incessantly self-destructive nature is part of "Californication"s appeal. Watching Hankis like watching a NASCAR crash in slow motion: you know that it’s all going to end in tears but you need to see how it happens.
The guest stars this season are a bright spot. Carla Gugino’s role as Hank’s lawyer could have been played by anyone else but really, it’s Carla Gugino, and they find any number of excuses to have her hanging around in her underwear, so who’s going to complain? Rob Lowe is entertaining as hell as deranged actor Eddie Nero, who has been hired to play Hank in the movie, and his shadowing Hank makes for some great comedic moments. Meanwhile Addison Timlin plays Sasha Bingham, the starlet hired to play Mia, who brings some complications of her own to Hank’s troubled life.
Unfortunately, every time the season’s focus is taken off Hank and his immediate circumstances, the show suffers. Hank’s agent and best friend, Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler), remains a cancerous plot tumor and I wish they would just excise him for good. Charlie has gone from being a competent, if foolish, agent, to a grotesque cartoon and the show’s momentum grinds to a halt every time his storyline takes center stage. Similarly, Becca’s joining the riot-grrrrl band "Queens of Dogtown" - headed by Zoë Kravitz- is painfully twee, and the less said about the damage they do to the songs they cover the better.
Despite some stumbles, "Californication"Season 4 is a worthy wrap up to three seasons of plot-lines and loose threads. The final episodes offer a promising shake-up of the series’ status-quo and I can’t wait to see how things proceed from here.
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