'Californication': The plane from 1987
A man called "Zloz" stepped off the airplane, looking like a landscaper, because he was a landscaper. “Where’d that plane come from, 1987?” his old pal asked. “You look exactly the same. And that smell -- what is that, booze, cigarettes and Drakkar Noir? Takes me right back.”
A crazy weekend in Los Angeles unfolded, though at times I swear it seemed as if these two had taken the return flight right back to ’87. Isn’t that when awful pickup lines still existed? And when bar fights so easily broke out? (At least in the movies.)
After a delightful beginning, this was an episode that went backward after the opening credits, which is when Zloz arrived, favoring a dry hump to a handshake. And this is by no means a knock on actor Kevin Corrigan, who inhabited Zloz -- technically Mike Zlozowski -- the guy from Long Island who came to visit our favorite (anti-) hero, Hank (David Duchovny). It’s just that I didn’t really feel that there was a point to this episode, other than maybe getting Corrigan (“The Departed”) and Duchovny together to do their thing, hoping some on-screen magic might unfold. But the story itself didn’t seem to lend anything to the overall story arc, other than providing a little 25-minute filler before we finally got somewhere, Karen (Natascha McElhone) arriving in Los Angeles as a surprise. We don’t know how long she’ll be staying, but her L.A. arrival is welcomed; this season has suffered without the tension of her immediate presence.
The best part of this episode was without question the very charming opening scene between Hank and Becca at the airport, her going to New York to visit Karen -- reluctantly, though, for her best friend had tickets to a Lakers game, home of “a killer scene.” Dad didn't get it, not understanding her lack of enthusiasm for New York, especially New York in the fall, where Becca would be “stepping into a Woody Allen film. Old Woody Allen, not recent Woody Allen. ‘Manhattan,’ ‘Annie Hall’ Woody Allen.” She got up to go, and as she headed for the gate entrance, Dad stood there, desperately hoping for the quick look-back from his daughter. “Come on, turn around just once, then I’ll know you still love me,” he whispered. “Come on, come on, come on…” When she did, he hopped with glee. It was a golden Duchovny moment.
Then Zloz unfortunately took over, riding Hank’s velvet coattail to bars, parties and strip clubs, offending the ladies with his awful pickup lines and his quest to get laid. When he revealed that he was sick, really sick, at the end of the episode, it was a little difficult to feel too bad for the guy after he’d acted like such a putz. And when Hank dropped him back off at the airport and Zloz urged him again to come back to Long Island one day, at least for a visit, it made me wish that this episode had done exactly that -- sent Hank on the plane to New York instead. That would have been something different. This episode was just more of the same, only it was the charmless, outdated Zloz steering the ship.
Writing this blog from the place Hank Moody longed to be -- New York in the fall, where today it’s stunningly beautiful and the leaves in the Park are turning to all sorts of brilliant shades -- I wonder and I hope for more of New York. Last season had a flashback episode to Hank and Karen in '90s New York, and it absolutely dazzled, informing Hank’s character and filling in the back story of the Hank-Karen-Becca dynamic. The first season also had a flashback episode that performed exactly the same function, that time introducing us to Hank’s father. Maybe one day, we’ll get Hank in New York again, whether it’s the Big Apple or the Long Island town from whence he came. I always liked how, especially in the first season, this show explored the pointed differences between the left and right coasts and how the transition from one to the other affected our protagonist. Now that Hank seems far more comfortable with his L.A. digs, things have gotten a little less interesting. He’s better homesick.
Meanwhile, the moron Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler) is still a moron, though in this episode he got a bit of a raw deal in my book. His old client/fling Daisy popped in for a visit to suggest that he get an STD test, to which he responded with a priceless face of squeamishness. But when he did the right thing by refusing to bed Marcy until his tests came back, she screamed at him even though, technically, he was doing the right thing here. Marcy (Pamela Adlon) has always been one of my favorite characters on this show, but the more tightly wound up she gets, and the more she screams, the less I like her.
And so we come to the end, to an interesting place: Karen’s back in L.A., the stripper is calling Hank her “boyfriend,” and there’s still the matter of the admiring teaching assistant and the admiring dean’s wife back at school.
See you in class, next week. But before signing off, I’d love to give out a quick homework assignment. In honor of this episode, I really do want to know: Do pickup lines really still exist? If you’ve actually heard any lately, please share, so long as they’re tasteful enough. Ladies, give us your best. Gents, give us your worst.
Photo: Old pals Zloz (Kevin Corrigan) and Hank (David Duchovny) catch up at the airport in Sunday night's "Californication." Credit: Showtime.