‘Californication’ Season 4 Premiere Review & Discussion

Published 3 years ago by

californication season 4 premiere Californication Season 4 Premiere Review & Discussion

David Duchovny returns as playboy author Hank Moody on Californication tonight. How does the fourth season of Showtime’s opus to excess start? Read on to find out.

After three years of sincerely trying to redeem himself in the eyes of his girlfriend and daughter, Hank reached a low point in Season 3′s finale over a year ago. Arrested after assaulting a police officer with dwindling hope of reuniting with Karen and Becca, the author emerges from jail in “Exile on Main St.” with little remorse and even less tact. As he tries to hold his career together after his scandalous and now public affair with a manipulative underage author, Hank and Charlie negotiate for the screenwriter position of the book that Mia stole from him in season one. At the same time, the two try to beat the rap and make amends to their significant others. They don’t try very hard.

The appeal of Californication lies in its brazen and unapologetic approach to money, sex and drugs on the West Coast. There’s plenty of that in the fourth season premiere: Hank begins indulging his vices mere moments after leaving jail, while simultaneously proclaiming his love and devotion for his estranged girlfriend and daughter. Fans tuning in for the show’s quick wit and brazen dialogue won’t be disappointed as Hank and Charlie, along with seemingly everyone in the movie business, rattle off as if they’re swearing on commission. The cable-only dialogue is enjoyable, and after the extended melodrama of the latter half of season 3 it’s good to see the writers returning to one of the series’ hallmarks. There’s also plenty of visual candy on display for those who want it – of Duchovny and his bedfellows.

Throughout the episode Hank continues to speak of his noble intentions while charging headlong into the habits and situations that made them leave in the first place. For example, Karen spares just enough time to Hank to explain her revulsion at his relationship with a then-16-year-old Mia. The girl had intentionally concealed her age, so at the time Hank wasn’t guilty of much more than an overactive libido and extremely poor judgement. But by the time the episode ends we once again see him bedding a girl half his age mere moments after appealing to her – and the audience – that he just wants his family back. For a brilliant writer, Hank seems to have a remarkably dim appreciation of cause and effect.

Hank treads water just above personal ruin and far below his own potential. While it certainly makes for a believable character, I take issue with the fact that the show expects us to sympathize with him. We’ve seen Hank make the same mistakes for years, topping himself in almost every episode. The series began with Hank as a talented man trying to overcome his own shortcomings and the obstacles others place in front of him. But now Hank is four years older and apparently none the wiser, and all the problems he faces at the beginning of the fourth season are of his own making. Why should the audience continue to care about a man who refuses to better himself? At this point, the show is simply presenting us with Hank’s (admittedly enjoyable) character traits and letting Duchovny loose in Los Angeles.

There’s no more character development to be found in the series’ lead – it’s time to either introduce a game-changing element or give us a look at the other players. Sasha, the actress hoping to play Mia’s role in her book’s movie adaptation, may fit the bill. She’s hopelessly infatuated with Hank, even as he explains that his heart lies elsewhere. She goes so far as to mimic the book’s tagline (and Hank’s own life) in an attempt to endear him to her. When Hank inevitably breaks her trust, be it with his estranged family or someone new, there should be some good drama to be had. Look for Sasha to play an increasing part in the coming season.

Charlie comes off as more annoying than endearing as he tries to fix Hank’s life while commiserating on his own misfortunes. The attorney he hires makes for some great dialogue, and since women are powerless to resist Hank in Californication, it’s almost certain that she’ll be an intimate part of this season’s plot. Karen and Becca, the characters I do feel sympathy for, are almost completely absent. While they may finally be gone from Hank’s life, it would have been nice to see more of their reactions to his continually collapsing situation.

Californication is as raunchy as it ever was as it begins its fourth year. The adult-only themes and humor are still enjoyable, but if the main character continues his unapologetic slide downwards, it’s hard to see how the plot will stay compelling.

Californication premieres tonight at 9:00 PM on Showtime.

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13 Comments

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  1. “but if the main character continues his unapologetic slide downwards, it’s hard to see how the plot will stay compelling.”

    I have actually seen almost all the episodes of this season of Californication and it stays compelling because of many surprises that turn up plus its keeps its serious tone more so than it did in season 3.

    • Yeah, from what I heard after publishing, the second episode has that “game-changing element” I was talking about. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but fans of the series need to make sure and set their DVRs next Sunday.

  2. Loved it!

    The return of the best show on television!

    • Amen bro! Great, sharp dialogue, wit and beautiful girls. I just love this show.
      I did feel a bit queasy at the fact that the actress playing Sasha is 19 whilst Duchovny is 50….but she does have great boobs!!

      • Why yes she does!!!

        Is Duchovny seriously 50? He looks bloody good for it!

        Funniest show for absolutely years, so smartly written it puts everything else to shame. I relate to Hank Moody. I wish I was Hank Moody.

      • Addison Timlin? Yes she does.

  3. Thought the premiere was great, Hank Moody might be my favorite character on TV!

  4. This show is so consistantly good. Easily one of the best shows on Tv. It never fails and I’ve yet to see a bad episode of it.

  5. I’m a huge Hank Moody and Californiacation fan. I was highly disappointed in the first episode of season 4. I don’t know if they have knew writers or what, but it isn’t the same Hank. The Hank I know has a serious side a long with a childish side. The same with Runkle, the acting is horrid and the plot seemed to be thrown together quickly. I hope it gets better because I’m a huge fan of the character.

    • Agreed. The first two episodes have been atrocious when juxtaposed with the writing and conceptualization of the late season. It’s always troublesome when characters we have familiarized ourselves with (Runkle and Moody) perform actions outside the scope of their character: i.e. unclever crudisms muttered by the aforementioned in the first two episodses mirrored conversations from my early high school years. Whereas in previous seasons we have found Hank’s floundering and sexual exploits somewhat noble in the sense that he didn’t have sex just to perform the duty, contextually the sex made sense. It wasn’t solipsistic, it was reciprocal. Whereas hooking up with Mia’s celluloid stand-in was an act devoid of purpose and incredibly dry moment of television. This could be considered an appeal to Hank’s atavistic nature, but I feel his true atavism is within his quest to recover the love of his family. Clearly, the first two episodes of the new season have diverted from that intention and focused on what you referred to as his “childish side.”

      If you doubt my tirade over the season’s poor writing thus far, critically examine the meeting between Becca and Moddy in the second episode. Their dialogue was extremely painful to watch. Not as a result of the difficult content as a fan, but the poor writing and uninvested acting.

      • You’re absolutely right. The first two episodes were painful to watch.
        Both the writing and directing need to improve.

  6. Well I think, that the writer of the article forgets, that we are afeter all human beings and as so we hardly ever change. Just because it is tv show we expect to have some character development, but think about it how many people in real life actualy change thier bad habits. It is just not so easy to say: well from now on i won’t drink and take drugs and sleep with everyone – this is called addiction.peaple just fall for what they know most and that is why they repeat their mistakes. I think the redemption of the character will begin if his family starts to embrace him as he is and try to love him for who he is and not blame him all the time or try to change him.And then he will realise that he is happy and does not need to kill the pain and that will stop him to fool around so much! Beacuse I have the feeling that he realy wants to change.

  7. I think season 4 is great so far. The only dip in this show was in some of season 3 where it all became a little silly and a tad boring. Back to great writing for season 4 though. I do agree though that they have to go somewhere with all this. Hank has “almost” gotten back with Karen enough times now – next time they have to stay together and the plot has to go somewhere else, or it has to go somewhere from where it presently is. And it’s true: it’s hard to sympathize with anyone who’s so stupid to make the same mistakes over and over again. Then again, I’ve never quite understood what was so upsetting about him having sex with Mia when he thought she was older AND he wasn’t even with Karen at the time. Seemed like a flimsy reason to break everything up again. For me, this show’s genius is its balancing of all the raunchy stuff with a serious, emotional and sweet side – perfect blend.

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