Brief Review: Californication
Minor spoilers follow.
The main reason the PR firm sent me a copy is because the show stars David Duchovny as a writer, and they felt that it might be of interest to my readership -- you. So I'll look at it from that angle. I will, of course, preface this with my usual disclaimer that I really don't know TV. Film is my game. That being said...
I enjoyed the show overall, and would say it is good, but certainly not great. There are some fun little twists and surprising moments, and there was at least one scene in which I honestly laughed out loud. At the same time, the show is not nearly as original as it could be. In particular, one scene in which Duchovny's character basically knocks down another character he's just met by describing every detail of her life in obnoxious detail is overly familiar. I was really hoping for a new twist on that scene, but it never came. The relationship that Duchovny has with his ex and his daughter are also largely familiar, though it does feature a few moments of originality.
In terms of portraying the writer's life on screen, sure it is nice to see. I mean, any coverage is going to be better than none, and though his life is by no means standard for the writer's life, there are some aspects that ring true. And there are at least a few moments in which we see how he thinks as a writer. But if you are looking for a realistic portrait of the average writer, this ain't it. Of course, if it were, it probably wouldn't be a particularly watchable or enjoying show!
Californication certainly lives up to its name (at least in this pilot episode). Unlike so many other shows or movies that are named after a popular song but for no obvious reason, this one seems logical (though it bears no direct connection to the Chili Peppers tune). It is obviously set in California and it feature well more than its share of fornication. In this one episode, Duchovny's character has intercourse with at least 3 women, gets a blow job from another (in an envelope-pushing opening scene) and finds a naked woman in his bed, with whom he has previously slept. And while in that sense alone it may be a less than realistic portrayal of many writers, it certainly makes the show enjoyable!
Is Californication a groundbreaking show that does new things for the genre? Not really. But is it enjoyable? Sure. And nice to see some decent acting. Duchovny is generally good, and I'm happy to see Natascha McElhone making her way further into the American screen scene! I've always liked her.