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Bankable Angst to Parody in Two Seasons
on December 22, 2008
When series creator, Tom Kapinos, first sketched character Hank Moody, played by David Duchovny, it appeared as though he'd found a wormhole into the collective unconscious of middle-age, urban men.
Hank was a bright, talented guy who, like many of his generation, seemed powerless to consummate a functional relationship with his one great love, played by Natascha McElhone.
This very-public struggle was waged on the quintessential battlefield of urban decadence and moral relativity, Los Angeles; a place where he appeared to be both victim and willing co-conspirator.
The drugs, the endless sexual escapades, the chain-smoking, the hard drinking and the lawless swagger of a rock star on the verge of another overdose all peppered his course to self discovery like a series of land mines.
Kapinos nailed the arrested adolescence of many older single men with more than their share of talent, good fortune...and too much time on their hands.
So in this birthplace of pathological narcissism, here was this intensely desirable renegade in search of a better destiny...or mother, as the case may be...and everyone [the audience] was happy.
But that was season ONE.
The second time around things started to unravel. The psychological components that gave the show life began to morph into a series of clichés that reminded me of an alcoholic who repeatedly calls to apologize for behavior he's powerless to prevent.
In the end, the behavior becomes as predictable as it is boring, and as a result, I started to resent Hank's helplessness. It also seemed to be contagious, because every member of the supporting cast was some way, somehow victimized by their own absurdly preposterous foibles.
In the end, the edges were wearing thin and the show had started to edge closer to a parody of itself.
Californication has been granted a third season, and I hope this time around Tom and company focus more on Hank's inner evolution - or devolution - if that works in some ironic way.
The endless - if improbable - sex, drugs, and rock and roll are always good sellers, but character development is far more satisfying.
Where the hell is that wormhole, anyway?