Monday, October 6, 2008

Californication - Recap & Review - The Great Ashby

Californication
"The Great Ashby"

Original Air Date: Oct 5, 2008

Susannah Buzard - TwoCents Reviewer
susannah@thetwocentscorp.com

The second episode of Californication’s second season opens with Hank in prison during visitation with Becca and Karen. Merely one episode after we view Hank and Karen interact as a newly reunited couple, we are already beginning to witness their demise. Karen gives Hank the silent treatment, only communicating through Becca, who tells her father “Mom says you should use this time to think.”

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[photo: Showtime.com]

2 comments:

  1. Californication
    "The Great Ashby"

    Original Air Date: Oct 5, 2008

    Susannah Buzard - TwoCents Reviewer
    susannah@thetwocentscorp.com

    The second episode of Californication’s second season opens with Hank in prison during visitation with Becca and Karen. Merely one episode after we view Hank and Karen interact as a newly reunited couple, we are already beginning to witness their demise. Karen gives Hank the silent treatment, only communicating through Becca, who tells her father “Mom says you should use this time to think.”

    The conversation ends with Becca reminding Hank to not bend over for the soap, a potty mouth comment which is consistent with the writers’ attempts to infuse Becca’s precocious insights with her father’s vulgar humor. The soap joke is a bit cliché though, is it not? (And incidentally, does anyone else think her voice is too little girlish at this point? She’s all gothed out with the blue fingernails, and she definitely wears enough makeup to be considered a full fledged teenager, yet her tone of voice sounds rather infantile).

    In Season 1, most episodes delivered a decent joke before the opening credits rolled. (Recall, “Yo, K-Fed, the man in the boat, he’s up here!” and “I’ve never been a big fan of the term ‘bj’ either”) In Season 2, we get the soap joke. In Season 2, the opening credits have also changed. I promise this whole review won’t be a gripe fest, but did anyone notice that we don’t get to see Hank scramble for the scattered papers of his manuscript during the credits? Instead, we get more close ups of Karen and a few close ups of Karen and Hank as a couple. Sure, they’re great looking, but c’mon – Hank as a single bachelor train wreck is far more interesting than him as a happy couple, which seems to be the major dilemma plaguing the writers of Season 2: how do we keep Hank interesting if he is in a relationship?

    I think I’ll skip the scene when viewers witness Marcy waxing a porn star’s butt, as well as the scene when we learn that the overweight Hell’s Angels dude is one of the “greatest guitarists who ever lived” at the moment he is passing gas. The scene between Hank and Ashby in jail is important, however, because it is at this point when Ashby (a music luminary) asks Hank to write his biography. “You’re like Hunter S. Thompson meets The Stooges’ last album,” he tells Hank when speaking of his many wrong-side-of-the-tracks admirers.

    We later learn after Ashby bails Hank out of jail that Ashby once lost the woman he loved because he chose freedom over a commitment. He seems to be telling Hank a cautionary tale of sorts, and the viewer remembers The Great Ashby is the title of the episode. Yay! A second literary reference! After the first episode, I was worried the reading references would be continually be replaced by references to cocaine and cunnilingus. Anyway, so The Great Ashby is an allusion to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby. Ashby even tells Hank, “God Hates Us All was your Gatsby, what happened?” So, on one level, Ashby gives Hank a chance to recreate the success of his first novel by writing his biography. On another symbolic level, like Gatsby, Ashby pines over his lost love, with he will presumably never reconcile, despite his wealth and fame.

    In this episode, we not only witness Hank’s fall from Karen’s good graces, but we also watch the downfall of Charlie Runkle’s career. Charlie’s assistant (who now sports a blue streak in her hair) tells the head of the company that he spanked it for and with her, and she produces the video footage to prove it. Charlie tells his boss, “You’re going to shitcan 15 years of experience because of one mistake?” The footage begins to roll, and we see multiple scenes of masturbation, and Charlie’s “one time” reveals itself as an infinite number of times.

    Thematically, this episode illustrates the consequences Hank and Charlie face as a result of their indulgences. In Freudian terms, they were “ids” (the “I want”) in the first season, and in season two, the superego (the “I should”) rears its ugly head. Although Hank experiences some bad luck on the night he is imprisoned, his genuine mistakes obviously resonate with Karen’s residual anger at Hank’s past transgressions. Karen wants Hank to grow up, whereas Marcy (Charlie’s wife) doesn’t mind if Charlie acts crazy to spice up the marriage as long as he limits his hedonism (drugs, kinky sex) to the confines of the marriage.

    At one point, Becca tells Karen at the dinner table, “You have to love him for he is, Mom. If you think you made a mistake, that’s not his fault. You knew this when you jumped in the car with us.” Is the same true for Charlie’s wife? Does Marcy “know” Charlie’s limitations when she gets back together with him? Do you think Marcy and Charlie are more likely to stay together, even though Charlie cheated and Hank didn’t?

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  2. It is a really well turned-out idea proliferated by the creators, where they have experimented with the most popular genres. However, by mixing them all together, they have invented an altogether fresh genre. It is a beautiful blend of comedy and music, which is sprinkled with wonderful dance moves. I Watch Californication online

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