DVD Review: Californication (The Fifth Season)

Hank Moody (X-Files‘ David Duchovny) is TV’s greatest self-destructive character. He has an amazing ability to keep burning himself because he can’t resist the excitement of the flame. He has no desire to just be a best selling author that lets his books speak for themselves. Since his books are about himself, Hank needs to do the extreme and unexpected to add flavor to his upcoming work. Californication: The Fifth Season mixes things up as Hank gets sucked into the world of Wu Tang.

Time has elapsed since the end of season four. Hank has retreated to New York City to get back to writing. Karen (Natascha McElhone) has married the author Richard Bates. Becca (Madeleine Martin) is now in college and dating. What brings Hank back west? Super agent Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler) has him lined up for a fat payday writing the script to Santa Monica Cop as a vehicle for rapper Samurai Apocalypse (Wu Tang Clan’s RZA). But can Hank handle the work environment? His new employer doesn’t merely play a gangster on his records. Hank can’t go back east since his recently ex-girlfriend has set fire to his apartment. “JFK to LAX” has him almost hook up in an airplane bathroom with Kali (Meagan Good). This chance encounter turns out to be an introduction since she’s Samurai’s protege. He doesn’t appreciate guys hitting on her. Hank must forget about a second intimate encounter with her because Samurai likes to play with knives.

The biggest surprise of the season is the arrival of Tyler (Scott Michael Foster). He’s Becca’s much older boyfriend that’s the younger version of Hank. Hank hates the kid, but also sees parts of himself in the man banging his daughter. It hurts Hank to read Tyler’s writing and admit the kid has talent. But Tyler doesn’t live for Hank’s approval. He’s a wonderful viper as he backbites everyone around him for pleasure. He has no problem killing his idols which is why he’s the perfect foil for Hank.

The season has quite a few major names directing besides Duchovny. There’s Michael Lehman (Heathers), Bart Freundlich (Trust the Man), Helen Hunt (Mad About You), Eric Stoltz (Pulp Fiction) and John Dahl (Red Rock West). This talent allows the show to pop when it could easily fizzle under the carnality and showbiz storylines. Californication: The Fifth Season is filled with characters that burn themselves and others in the Pacific Sun. You might want to rub in the sunblock before hitting play.

The Episodes
“JFK to LAX,” “The Way of the Fist,” “Boys & Girls,” “Waiting for the Miracle,” “The Ride Along,” “Love Song,” “Here I Go Again,” “Raw,” “At the Movies,” “Perverts & Whores,” “The Party” and “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be.”

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfers bring out the surreality of SoCal. The audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround and 2.0 Dolby Digital. The sound levels bring out the musical elements of this series. There’s a Spanish dub. The episodes are subtitled in English.

Episodes of House of Lies are included on the DVDs. There’s also a way to watch episodes of The Borgias and Dexter via E-Bridge Technology.

Californication: The Fifth Season drags Hank Moody back to Hollywood. He has to play it safe or he might be killed by his latest collaborator. But can he resist? Where’s the fun if he played it safe?

CBS DVD presents Californication: The Fifth Season. Starring: David Duchovny, Natascha McElhone, Madeleine Martin, Evan Handler, Pamela Adlon and RZA. Boxset Contents: 12 episodes on 2 DVDs. Released: December 18, 2012. Available at Amazon.com

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