Television shows, like movies, have a beat. At least the good ones do. Having a beat, or a rhythm if you prefer, allows a show to pull you in. With a slow throbbing dirge shows like LOST or JERICHO lull you into their grip and fill you with suspense and dread. Some shows are toe-tappers, but they’re usually the bubble-gum shows that, while enjoyable, are pretty throw-away.
Then there are the Jazz-Fusion shows: Entourage comes to mind. It’s snappy, well paced and always keeps you on your toes, so it is intended as a compliment when I say that I was reminded of Entourage’s rhythm while watching the pilot of David Duchovny’s new series, Californication.
Californication is a great looking show, like most of Showtime’s efforts, and while it is scattered with sexual exploits and wall to wall hotties, they’re not the reasons that I make the comparison to HBO’s Entourage.
On the surface both shows snap, pop and slap along with great editing, sharp dialogue and characters that you either love or just love to watch. Duchovny’s Hank Moody is a strung out writer, suffering through a period of writers block bought on by the demise of his relationship with his former wife. Yet, despite their separation Hank and Karen (Natascha McElhone) attempt to raise their daughter with a united front, and despite his constant womanising, Hank either can’t stand life without Karen or just can’t stand to see her go on without him: It’s not immediately apparent what his motivation is.
What is clear is that Hank is a sad lonely guy. Luckily for him (and the viewer) he’s also witty, charming and somewhat self-deprecating. What it boils down to is that Hank is a complete schmuck, but like Entourage’s foul mouthed Ari Gold, he’s an extremely likeable schmuck.
I really hope that this series gets the opportunity to go somewhere, because the pilot sets the series off with a great beat… and like any great Jazz-Fusion number, just when you think you’ve got the rhythm worked out a tempo change catches you completely off guard.