[TIL] Californication Season 1: Cali Fornication.

Yes, this title is another example of my endless wit.

This series was aired on TV here with daily re-runs, 12 episodes, each about 26 minutes. It’s a drama that you shouldn’t watch unless you’re ready for vulgarities and a lot of naked.

Californication (IMDB, Wikipedia), follows writer Hank Moody, who’s falling into women… It’s not addressed as much, but from the way he’s drinking and how early it is, I’d hazard a guess that the character is also an alcoholic.

Hank is a writer. Hank used to write. Hank does not write any more.
Hank used to live with the woman he loves, with whom he has a daughter, who doesn’t live with him.
Hank used to live in NYC, but now he lives in California, which he loathes, though it is not entirely clear why.

Hank hates his life. Hank is not on a road of self-destruction, when we meet Hank, he’s already at the end. He tries to get back with Karen, but this obviously comes only after she gets engaged.

This show runs for about 26 minutes of episode material, and is a drama. This is something I’m not used to, short-form drama. Sure, there are moments I laugh at in most episodes, but I wouldn’t call it a comedy. I laugh because something is funny, not because the series is a comedy. And there’s some difference I’m having trouble formulating in words.

The series does not have that much characterization, the characters stay more or less the same, and what changes is their relationships, very slowly, or the scenery, such as the women Hank beds, like an assembly line of fucking and self-loathing. Heck, I did get some vibes of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas from the series, if not from the series itself, then Hank did have some Hunter S. Thompson poured into him, or Hemmingway, or another of those old drunk, miserable, coots.

Hank’s daughter, Becca, speaks in a dead-pan voice, and she fulfills the role of the greek choir (such as in Sophocles’ play, Antigone)¬†at moments in the series. Narrating to us how Hank is doing, what his nature is, etc. This is somewhat touching and sad, as she is also his daughter, about 12 years old, and knows of how flawed her father is.
As sometimes happens in such a series, you’re left unsure who’s the parent. Good thing Becca lives with Karen.

Hank: Who said you have to be realistic?
Becka: Mom
Hank: Oh.

Some other short points:
– The fake male orgasm never sounded or felt more fake. Seriously. No need to grunt when (fake) masturbating for the sake of the camera.
– This is not a story about redemption. This is not a story about falling. This is a story about the wallowing you do when you’re at the bottom.
– Episode 10 is fucked up. It’s written and feels as if everyone involved was high. The writers, the characters, us hapless watchers. It was weird.
Good acting by Madeline Zima, as a girl pining over an older man, whom Hank calls “Sociopath in training”.

I’m not really sure how to classify this series, or how to describe my feelings towards it. I’ve enjoyed watching it, overall. But it was kind of a morbid fascination watch. It’s somewhat well-made, and has some rough edges that I think are intentional.

Worth a watch. I will not try to grade this one, y’all.
Second season begins its daily re-runs tonight. Will share thoughts in 3 weeks or so, when it’s over.

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Damages (TV show). Not so Cliched.

This is about the TV show Damages. The one that has Glenn Close in it.

Anyway, this will be mostly about the first season, because the second season is currently airing here and we’re only at the third episode, I think.

Ok, when I originally saw the show, I thought to myself, “Good show, but cliched.” I think that overall, it’s both true and misses the point.
It’s basically a thriller movie, or a really well written thriller book. It has flashback, or future-flash glimpses. Where you get to see several moments of what happens, and then the main story is “6 months ago”. Each episode you get to see another several moments of the “now” while the “past” keeps progressing, until at some point they meet.

Politics, subterfuge, lies, relations. It’s a really tight show, with really great acting by most players involved. Shout-outs to Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, and really, most of all, to Zeljko Ivanek in his role of Ray Fiske. BTW, we were watching this while watching daily Becker reruns, and it was quite a shock to realize Ted Danson is so old, and over-tanned :D

So. Here is why to say Damages is cliched misses the point: It is cliched if you look at it as a suspense novel, or even a suspense book. But see, when you switch your medium, and you make something work? That takes skill, that makes it no longer cliched, in that medium.
Each episode of Damages is like a really good part of a movie, and the series as a whole is just really good. And you know, it reminds me of a discussion I’ve had with my mother regarding season 1 of Prisonbreak before, I’ll need to get back to it.

This gets a 9 out of 10 for superb acting and plot-construction. Watch it, y’all.

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