Page 1 of 3
Paramount / 338 Minutes / 2011 / Unrated / Street Date: November 1, 2011
Californication has a lot of sex in it. In fact, one of the major story arcs of this Fourth Season DVD set involves the production of a movie version of the book our protagonist Hank (David Duchovny) has written entitled Fucking and Punching. So, yeah - this Showtime series doesn't shy away from anything involving birds and bees.
But what continues to be so refreshing about the series – and what no doubt made Duchovny so interested in its complex, tricky main role – is that while it's definitely an amorous series, it really isn’t about sex. Where shows like True Blood showcase their sexual overbites as often as possible (and, in that show's case, then some), Californication focuses on something underneath the pulse and throb of its hump-sensibilities.
In fact, if we didn't have the history of Hank's sordid exploits as background for this Fourth Season collection, it might all seem quite dire. Karen (Natascha McElhone), the on-and-off flame of Hank's since the get-go, has officially moved on, finding solace in the open arms of another man (which, even with his every-port-in-a-storm personal philosophy, eats at Hank hard), his daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin) has officially moved past puberty-spawned avoidance of her father and moved on to full-blown disappointment, and Hank even has the shackles of a statutory rape case hanging around his neck.
While this might all seem too depressing and gritty to be entertaining, what really gets Californication sparkling is its ability to get its hands dirty in nuanced and often unexpected ways. So many shows make a claim for promoting sex in exotic, titillating ways, yet while Californication is definitely ripe with bump-and-grind, it stands alone on current television as a series willing to risk it all in an attempt to illuminate the fringes and gutters that lie on the sides of modern eros.