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'Californication': He's in love with rock 'n' roll, whoa ...

November 9, 2008 | 10:31 pm

It's very simple. If you like "Californication" to begin with, chances are good that you have somewhat of a dark –- or at times, even sick –- sense of humor. If so, count me among you. And, my fellow sickos, this episode was for us.

So crude, but so, so funny. And then, just when we thought that this was simply another stroll down Guilty Pleasure Lane, we took a sudden left turn onto a nice and quiet street in Venice, where, in the fading California sun, we witnessed one of the most emotional moments of the series, a tough-love scolding of a father by the one true love of his life, his daughter Becca. 

That's what this show does when at its best: It makes us laugh, then cringe, then laugh again, and right when we can't possibly look away from the ongoing stream of absurdity –- when we in fact find ourselves pining for more in the form of that next big punchline or humorous misstep –- we instead get a surprise punch to the emotional gut, and are reminded again that this is actually a show about something more than just gratuitous fun on a Sunday night.

And then we get back to the gratuitous fun, but still ...

Sunday night's episode of "Californication" was superb. Certain moments were absolutely gross, yes, but unlike some of the previous episodes, the comedic payoffs here proved more than worth it.

Some random thoughts from a crazy Sunday night...

-- Lew Ashby's turn from cocky bastard to something a bit more like a scolded puppy was a refreshing change of pace. Sure, he bedded Mia again, against Hank's strict orders, but when caught and called out, the slimy music producer couldn't have been more in need of his buddy's forgiveness. He stood there in his briefs, fidgeting left-right, left-right, so very eager to regain Hank's trust.  That meant a quick gift –- one of Kurt Cobain's old guitars. “You're my only friend and I, uh, let you down,” Lew said. “Take care of it.” And when that didn't appear to work, Plan B: “You hungry? You like crepes? I have a new pan I want to try out. That's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna make us some crepes.” Callum Keith Rennie, a job well done. And then ...

-- Mallory Keaton!? The very moment actress Justine Bateman –- famous for playing Mallory on the '80s hit “Family Ties” -- appeared on screen as Becca's teacher during the parent-teacher conference, I immediately thought to myself, “Please-don't-bed-her-please-don't-bed-her...” Not that Justine Bateman isn't perfectly, you know, I mean, but, well, it's just that ... it's Mallory Keaton from “Family Ties!” And then ...

-- There that was. So much for wishing. Mallory, oh Mallory. You propositioned Hank. He accepted. And not only that, but you just shared a bit too much information with us all, saying, among other things, that you'd reached a certain time of the month. Hank didn't care, but I certainly did. Mallory, you're dead to me now. And then ...

-- The surprise. Hank went downstairs afterward, looking for the bathroom. Instead he found Becca's teenage boyfriend, eating cereal in the kitchen. The kid looked up, a fully-naked Hank standing before him. They stared. They pondered. “Damien?” “Mr. Moody?” Both parties slowly –- and quite painfully –- came to realize the situation: Hank had slept with Damien's mom. Then Damien peered downward, noticing something. “Did you ... hurt her?” Disgusting. Repulsive. And also ... for us dark souls ... kind of hilarious. You had to be there to see the priceless looks on each of their faces, though at the very same time, you really didn't want to. And then ...

-- The scoldings. Hank had an absolutely hilarious answer to the first one, which came from Karen. In an argument over the irresponsible actions of his, um –- manhood? -- Hank fired back: “Yes, but you kicked my [manhood] out of the house! You made my [manhood] homeless! And out-of-doors is a place where [manhoods] don't generally fair well ... in the rain and the wind and all that.” And then ...

-- I thought to myself, hmm, writing this blog, considering the content, will not be easy. And then ...

-- Becca. She'd had enough. She'd even broken up with Damien, embarrassed by the antics of her father, but Dad fixed the situation with an apology to Damien -- and by handing Damien the guitar that used to belong to Kurt Cobain. Even still, Becca found herself on that quiet street in Venice, walking with Dad, pushed to the brink. “You're the most beautiful thing in the world to me,” Dad said. “Then treat me that way!” Daughter answered. “I'm always on your side, always, even when I shouldn't be. But I'm sick of it. I don't care if you and mom never say another kind word to each other, but I'm sick and tired of parenting you both. I'm a kid! I don't know what I'm doing half the time! But I do know this: If you keep cracking jokes, and taking another drink, and pretending that life is one big stupid party, you will miss everything.” This time, the writer had no words. And this time, little goth-loving Becca –- usually a pro at holding in her emotions and delivering her words in an almost unfeeling, monotone way –- had tugged at our heart strings with a teary-eyed delivery that may have officially cemented young actress Madeleine Martin as this season's most pleasant surprise. And then ...

-- Later that night, Hank, still feeling like a schmuck, turned down a stunner of a barmaid. But in his world there is always another, and in this case, she arrived on the very next bar stool. Enter Janie Jones –- The One Who Got Away from Lew a long time ago. Hank finally gets the key interview opportunity for his Lew Ashby biography, though we do immediately ponder further possibilities. “So what are we drinking?” Janie asks. And then ... 

-- Black. Credits. And we wait, and we wonder. ...

-- Josh Gajewski

Bonus Tracks:

For the sheer randomness of it, Hank's name tag at teacher-parent night absolutely killed me. “Hello, my name is ... PHYLLIS.”

As for the Runkles ... Nah, forget it, I don't even know where to begin.

And Mia? Well, guess what: She published the book, after all. And she's blowing up, apparently. This from a site that a kind poster named Rommel pointed out last week. It's a series of “vlogs” -- video blogs -– from Mia (Madeline Zima) herself, that apparently go up each week, shedding light on her character that the show itself does not. Among the facts: being named to Rolling Stone's “Hot List,” constant text messages from Lew Ashby, and her book –- well, Hank's book, stolen away –- buying her some face time on both “Ellen” and Perez Hilton's website, as well as some space on the Costco Book Table. These are some things I would have loved to have seen on the actual show.

Artistic references: Aside from the Kurt Cobain guitar, there was Janie Jones. Hank himself recalled that the name of Lew Ashby's ex is “like the Clash song,” and then later, after Janie joined him at the bar, that song immediately cut in as the episode ended and the credits rolled. “Janie Jones,” from the Clash's eponymous debut album, was named after a British pop singer of the '60s who gained further fame in the '70s for having become a London madam, according to Wikipedia. The very Hank-ish punk anthem begins so...

He’s in love with rock ‘n’ roll, whoa
He’s in love with getting stoned, whoa
He’s in love with Janie Jones, whoa
He don’t like his boring job no…

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