By Todd Schultz
Whoa. Déjà vu. I was just thinking about the fifth season premiere of Californication and I was about to write a lamentation of my lost youth when I realized that I felt the exact same way this last season of Entourage. The zany sexcapades of idiot man-children no longer amuse me. I’m ok with that, and after watching the premiere, it would seem the writers have also become apathetic to their own cause.
I will say this about the fifth season premiere: The writers tried a little bit to shake things up, hopefully realizing they had to pop a Viagra or something to get back into the mood by having nearly three years pass between when season four ended and now. We find the perpetual midlife crisis that is writer Hank Moody living in New York when he is lured back to Los Angeles by his agent/best friend Charlie (Evan Handler) regarding a writing gig for rap artist Samurai Apocalypse (Rza, who is tongue in-cheeking himself, Common, and Kanye West).
Still in Los Angeles are Hank’s one time true love and baby momma Karen (Natascha McElhone) and college bound daughter Becca (Madeleine Martin). Karen is remarried to Stuart Bates (Jason Beghe) another writer who Hank bears a begrudging respect for, especially over their shared disgust over Becca’s new boyfriend Tyler (Scott Michael Foster). Now we remember from Psych 101 that girls go for guys like their dad, and Tyler is young Hank to a tee, which irks Hank even further.
This show had entertained me for quite a while, sustaining three solid seasons of great nudity, debauchery, fistfights, great nudity, alcohol, fatherhood, lecherous chivalry, and I should really mention the great nudity. However, season four’s tepid predictability really exposed the danger of shock and awe as Hank’s antics (Hanktics?) got very old, real quick. After the first episode of season five, it’s time to bring in hospice.
Being a wannabe writer, I would try and see some of myself in Hank. I would say to myself ‘I’m a contemporary curmudgeon, and if I really wanted to I could get tail like Moody could.’ Writers love to romanticize their plight. These days Hank is just sad and ridiculous.
Earlier I mentioned that the show’s writers did try to shake things up. The only problem is that the dialogue is still stunted and silly, and the plot is still paint-by-numbers. Of course the girl he met on the plane was Samurai’s girlfriend, and you could see the crazy girlfriend literally burning down the house before show runner Tom Kapinos did. They even gave an Adonis like Stephen Tobolowsky a nude scene. Seems an oddly appropriate downgrade from the aforementioned great nudity. Though when you are arguing against great nudity then perhaps you’re just too old for this anymore.