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Californication: The Fourth Season
Paramount Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 11/1/2011
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/2/2011
Unless there's a major change with a significant character (an actor dies, gets fired, moves onto the movies, tiger blood, etc.), most television shows don't change very much over time. Storylines change and minor characters come and go, but most shows develop a formula and stick to it, so as not to alienate their core audience. As change is never easy, this sounds like a good idea, right? Well, Californication: The Fourth Season shows that a little change might be a good thing.
To review, Hank Moody is a celebrated, but self-destructive author who lives in Los Angeles with his ex-wife, Karen (Natascha McElhone) and their daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin). Following a sexual encounter with Mia (Madeline Zima), Hank was inspired to write a new novel. However, Mia stole the manuscript and claimed that she wrote it. After some time, Mia came around and admitted that Hank was the author. This was a victory for Hank, until it was revealed that Mia was only 16 years old when they hooked up.
As Season Four opens, Hank is now facing statutory rape charges. Because of this, Karen and Becca are now longer speaking to him. While Hank's personal life is dissolving (again), his professional life is on the rebound, as the movie rights to the novel have been purchased, and Hank's agent and best friend, Charlie (Evan Handler), has gotten Hank a meeting with the producers, where Hank is asked to polish the screenplay. However, work doesn't serve as a distraction for Hank's unstoppable libido, as he finds himself attracted to the film's star, Sasha (Addison Timlin) and his lawyer, Abby (Carla Gugino). In the meantime, Hank is also throwing himself on the mercy of Karen, as he misses his family. However, Hank must learn to live with the fact that Karen and Becca are moving on.
The Californication: The Fourth Season DVD opens with a recap to remind us of what has transpired in the story thus far. This recap goes all the way back to the beginning of the first season. However, it completely skipsSeason Three, as if it never existed. The argument could be made that this wasn't included because it wasn't going to be relevant to the events of Season Four. But, it could also be argued that the powers that be on the show are merely winging it at this point, and they've thrown Season Three under the bus so that they can simply move on to the relative mess which is Season Four.
When Californication premiered, part of its appeal was the bad-boy image of Hank Moody. He was a unique character in the annals of television. He constantly smokes and drinks, and constantly angers those around him as he always says whatever is on his mind. And, he has sex with every woman which he meets. Hank's completely misanthropic behavior constantly get him in trouble, but he always finds a way to talk himself out of it. However, he's still deeply in love with Karen and he can't let go of his soulmate.
However, Hank's act has grown very old. What was once an adolescent male fantasy has morphed into an unbelievable and unrealistic show which insults the audience's intelligence. Despite the fact that Hank is an alcoholic and smokes non-stop and never goes to the gym, he maintains a very good physique. In real life, he was either be malnourished looking or very fat. Although his vile behavior is offensive to everyone around him, women can't stop throwing themselves at Hank. But, while he's having all of this elicit sex, he claims that he still loves Karen. Hank continues to act like a petulant child towards everyone, but they still forgive him. The show has gone from fantasy to all out science-fiction.
Hank's character has lost any charm which it once had, and the show has turned into a parody of itself. It has become redundant, with each episode resembling the last. The show's "ick" factor isn't exclusive to Hank. As Charlie's marriage has ended, he has decided that he's going to bed as many women as possible, and this leads to some unnecessarily gross displays. Of course, the season's low point comes when Becca's band butchers one of my favorite Alice in Chains songs.
Do those responsible for Californication realize what they've done? I think that that they do, as the season's last two episodes show some of the heart which made the show a success to begin with. The dinner party scene is a classic and contains a very shocking moment. There are some great visuals in the finale and the final shot promises that the she is moving in a new direction. Do I dare believe this? The future may be bright, but Season Four is a hollow disappointment.
Californication: The Fourth Season can't fool me with its stunt Porsche on DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The two-disc set contains all 12 episodes of the show's fourth season. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is fairly sharp and clear, showing only trace amounts of grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. However, the picture is notably flat and, while pretty crisp, it doesn't have much depth. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. (Be aware, the Dolby 2.0 track is the default track, so you must choose the 5.1 track.) I can sum up the sound here with a story. There's a scene where someone knocks on a front door, and this sound comes from the rear speakers. My cat heard this and ran to the door, assuming that a visitor had arrive. Now, that's good surround sound. The music sounds nice as well, and is well-distributed in the front channels.
The only extras on the Californication: The Fourth Season DVD set are text BIOGRAPHIES of the five main cast members and a PHOTO GALLERY. (Wow, is it 1998 again?) We also get bonus episodes of other Showtime shows.
Review Copyright 2011 by Mike Long