Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Was It Good For You?

Last night's season finale of Californication left my girlfriend in sufficiently heart-warmed hysterics, boasting of the show's greatness, but I found its last-thirty-second twist somewhat disappointing, if only in its definitive sense of closure. Hank, the wayward author with perpetual writer's block and lovesickness for the one that got away, ends his season-long screwfest in a noble attempt to let his soul mate's wedding proceed without incident, which, despite thirteen episodes' worth of flirting and begging, is what his muse needed to flee her wedding after all, of course only after the vows are exchanged. The subplots are neatly wrapped up, too, though destined to take a different direction at some point sooner than later. The hero and the audience get what they've always wanted -- so what isn't there to like?

First of all, the name of the show is Californication, and if Hank's happy ending (no pun intended) holds for the next season, what happens to, uhm, all the superfluous fornicating? Hank's hook-up of the week had a certain Dream On charm to it, with a bit of Charles Bukowski thrown in to maintain the scummy spirit of literary relevance. If, in the first three episodes of season two, Hank cheats, the audience will hate him, and while his pseudo-masochism is what makes him so likable, he isn't blatantly self-destructive. Will the emphasis fall on the title's first half, with a book tour throughout California in Hank and company's future? Oftentimes television forgets how big California really is, that Orange County, Los Angeles, and Hollywood are just sails on a much larger ship.

Also, Hank's love (whose name escapes me) made her life-changing decision off-screen, as Hank and his daughter were driving away. Now, faithful audiences knew to anticipate a last-second twist, so if our two favorite characters weren't barreling toward a car crash, what else really could have happened? The gratification seemed like forced period where we should have simply placed a comma (another unintended pun, if you saw the ep), as if the writers weren't sure if the show was going to be renewed. Still, the characters are compelling to bring me back, if only to see what's in store.

Which is why the show is so successfully, regardless of its title. Sure, they screw around, but they're just screwed up enough to make sense. Plus, it's a precious half hour of television my girlfriend and I can agree on. Thank you, Showtime, for making soft core couples-friendly again.

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