TV review: “Californication” finally comes to an end

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From the April 10, 2014 edition

After seven years, Showtime has decided the upcoming season of “Californication” will be the last. Back in the first two seasons, “Californication” seemed like it one of the best new comedies on television.

It had a strong (occasionally gross-out and titillating) sense of humor mixed with heartfelt, emotional moments, rooted in either the star-crossed lovers of Hank Moody (David Duchovny) and Karen (Natascha McElhone) or Hank’s relationship with his wise-beyond-her-years daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin). There were also fantastic supporting characters — and best friends of the Moodys — in Charlie (Evan Handler) and Marcy Runkle (Pamela Adlon).

The last couple seasons have proved that “Californication” would never achieve the highs of those opening outings — even if Season 4 was good — and has been coasting the last couple years. It’s a shame because Seasons 1 and 2 were truly great, but “Californication’s” legacy will surely be tainted by the most recent, subpar outings. It was still a funny series, but lost the heart it once had.

So is the final season a return to the best or just more of the meh? Having watched the whole thing, it’s both. There are some interesting elements at play, mainly with Hank and Karen and Charlie and Marcy, and a couple of good episodes — namely a flashback one, which the series has always done well. But the approach taken — bringing in well-known guest stars (Heather Graham, Michael Imperioli) and giving them major plotlines, along with a big plot twist — felt off for a final season.

The final season should focus, almost solely, on the Moodys and whether they can make their dysfunctional family work. Even if you’ve found recent seasons reduced (like me), you’ve always been invested in Hank and Karen. I can’t help but root for those two crazy kids to get back together.

If you’ve been a “Californication” viewer/fan over the years, you should see how it ends. It’ll never be as great as it once was, but there is a conclusion here, even if I would’ve liked it to be stronger and more focused.

Photo courtesy Showtime