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Californication: The Sixth Season (2013)

Showtime Entertainment
DVD Released: 3/25/2014

All Ratings out of

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1/2
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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 3/25/2014

There are many critics, such as myself, who cry out for originality in entertainment. We're tired of seeing remakes and retreads and we want to see something new and different. Having said that, there is something comforting about familiarity. That is why many television shows are successful. We tune in each week and we see recognizable characters doing things which fit their personalities. Sure, we like some twists and surprises at times (and oh, those cliffhangers), but it's our relationships with the characters and situations which keep us coming back again and again. But, what if a show exploited that relationship and just kept recycling the same ideas over and over. Wouldn't that be a case of "familiarity breeds contempt". In the case of Californication, I think so.

At the conclusion of Season Five, Hank Moody (David Duchovny) had been poisoned and left for dead by a jilted lover. As Season Six begins, Hank finds himself in the hospital, with his ex-wife/on-again-off-again love Karen (Natascha McElhone) at his side. Karen, along with their daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin), Hank's best friend, Charlie (Evan Handler), and Charlie's ex-wife, Marcy (Pamela Adlon), stage an intervention and convince Hank to go to a treatment center. There, he meets Faith (Maggie Grace), a rock-and-roll groupie who is dealing with the death of her rock star boyfriend. Hank is glad to have met this muse, as he's offered a new project. Rocker Atticus Fetch (Tim Minchin) wants to stage a rock-opera based on the movie which was based on one of Hank's books. At first, Hank balks at this idea, but he soon warms to it. Meanwhile, he can't decide if he should pursue a relationship with Faith. At the same time, Charlie realizes that he still have unresolved feelings about Marcy, which is unfortunate, as she's been taken under the wing of a super-feminist (Maggie Wheeler).

Tom Kapinos (who did a lot of work on Dawson's Creek...think about that for a minute) is the creator of Californication and he writes many of the show's scripts. Here's a question I have for Mr. Kapinos: What time is it where he lives? I've always assumed that the show is set in the present, but apparently this is all taking place in the 90s when rock music was still alive and still mattered. Based on the fact that the titles of Hank's books all come from the names of albums by Slayer, Kapinos is clearly a rock fan. But, there's a big difference between being a fan and living in fantasyland. Atticus Fetch is an Ozzy Osbourne type rocker who has his own jet and lives a life of debauchery. He's adored by fans and swamped by groupies. Will this sort of story make any sense to anyone under the age of 25? Hank and Faith attend the funeral of her boyfriend (who is played by Sebastian Bach) and there's a huge turnout for this guitar virtuoso. Really? Not in today's world. The ultimate ??? occurs when Hanks meets Marilyn Manson. If this was 1995, that would be a big deal. Today, it isn't. Trust me, no one laments the death of rock more than me, but the way in which music is portrayed in this season is ridiculous.

This rant leads me to my next and most important point. Those of you who know the show but have yet to see Season Six may be thinking, "Wait a minute, didn't they do the whole 'rock' angle before?" Yes, in Season Two Hank was hired to work with rock producer Lew Ashby, and many of the elements were the same as what we get in this latest season. My point? Californication is stuck in an incredible rut where it simply repeats itself over and over again. Now, this has been going on for quite some time, as Californication is a show which likes to stick to its guns, but Season Six was incredibly devoid of any new ideas.

Let's do the checklist: Hank drinks and does drugs. Check. Hank makes a lot of people angry. Check. Hank claims to love Karen, but has sex with other women. Check. Hank gets involved in a work project with a crazy person who makes him do crazy things. Check. Charlie still loves Marcy. Check. Becca broods. Check. I can't think of a single think which was presented in this season that we didn't see in the previous five seasons. Kapinos loves rock and apparently this season was meant to be a greatest hits package.

But, Californication has completely lost its appeal. In the beginning, the show was fun because Hank is such a curmudgeon and the series never pulled punches in showing how crazy L.A. can be. But, at this point, the series can't get by on trying to be shocking. Those days are long gone. Now, the viewer simply gets frustrated by how the show repeats itself and allows its characters to make the same mistakes over and over. The ultimate insult comes early-on in this season. While in the hospital, it looks as if Hank and Karen are finally going to reconcile (again). But, very quickly they are on the rocks again and despite the fact that Hank still swears that he loves Karen, he's off and running with Faith. The odd thing is that Karen doesn't make many appearance in this season. Still, Hank claims that he can't get on with his life because of his devotion to her. Whatever. The show has gone from being a fun ride to a completely ludicrous exercise in self-indulgence which, given how women keep coming on to Charlie, should be housed in the science-fiction section. The last few episodes of this season produce some chuckles, and Duchovny still gives it his all as Hank, but the series is simply spinning its wheels at this point and it's good to know that the next season will be the last.

Californication: The Sixth Season somehow continues to afford a Porsche on DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The two disc set contains all 12 episodes from this season. The show has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain (save for the transition shots) and there are no defects from the source materials. The show is shot in a very natural style, but the colors look fine and the image is never overly dark or bright. The picture is somewhat soft at times, and some shots lack in detail. The depth is OK and overall, the image rivals SD broadcast quality. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The music in the show sounds fine, and a concert scene provides surround sound from the crowd. The stereo effects are nicely done at times, most notably when something moves across the screen or sounds come from off-screen.

The only extras on the Californication: The Sixth Season DVD are text biographies for the cast and access to sample episodes for other shows from Showtime.

Review Copyright 2014 by Mike Long