CALIFORNICATION with David Duchovny, Natascha McElhone, Madeleine Martin and Evan Handler. Premieres Monday (August 13) at 9 pm on TMN. Rating: NNNN
The first episode of this very adult comedy opens with star David Duchovny getting a blow job from a nun. A really hot nun. In a church.
That's not even the most shocking moment. The next 29 minutes contain more naked bodies than a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, including Duchovny's pasty white ass.
Other than the copious amounts of naughty bits and the potential to make a sister forget her vows, there's nothing to connect the two - show and band - except the title, which also happens to belong to a Chili Peppers song. (No, the song isn't on the show's soundtrack; instead we get the much more suitable Sympathy For The Devil.)
Californication marks The X-Files star's return to series TV. It was created and written by Tom Kapinos, who spent four years spewing out the overwrought emotional travails of Joey, Pacey and Dawson as on of the writers on Dawson's Creek. Californication is either his penance or his revenge.
If you only think of Duchovny as straitlaced conspiracy nut Fox Mulder, you're in for a bit of a surprise.
But if you've been paying attention, you've probably noticed that behind that affability and TV handsomeness, Duchovny has always seemed like a bit of a freak. Not in an "I believe aliens visit Earth to violate people with rectal probes" kind of way. Or even in an "I'd sleep with Ann Coulter" kind of way. There's just something devilish about his eyes that tells you he's not quite normal - but in an entertaining way.
Of course, while Duchovny is better-known lately for big-screen rom-com efforts like Return To Me and Trust The Man, he's always had a few kinks in his acting closet.
He played a transvestite federal agent on Twin Peaks; an eroticonteur on Red Shoe Diaries; and, the kink de resistance, a gay version of himself in several episodes of The Larry Sanders Show. His man-crush on the talk-show-within-a-show's host (Gary Shandling) was a highlight of the series. Talk about subversive. And funny.
Now Duchovny seems to have found a role that fits his smirking, vaguely uninterested delivery like the proverbial glove.
Hank Moody is a self-destructive writer (is there any other kind?) who's determined to fuck his life away, literally and figuratively.
He's already lost his long-time girlfriend (Natascha McElhone), for whom he still carries a torch. And he's not doing much better with their 13-year-old daughter (a dark and delightful Madeliene Martin in full-on Ghost World mode).
Oh yeah, and he has writer's block. His one literary success, a novel called God Hates Us All, has been turned into a sappy yet successful movie called Crazy Little Thing Called Love, starring Tom and Katie (no last names necessary).
Essentially, Duchovny's Hank is a classic 70s-era romantic antihero, a generally unlovable loser who knows what the right thing to do is but still seems incapable of doing it.
Like Fox Mulder, the character is searching for the truth, in this case an inner truth about himself and relationships, which in the end may prove far more elusive than little green men from Mars.
His aftershave is straight-up eau de booze and pussy, given his penchant for drunken one-night stands. He revenge-fucks the wife of Crazy Little Thing Called Love's director, and it's funny. That he flips the director off with a crude hand-and-tongue gesture that would seem more appropriate in American Pie is funnier. Then he fucks a bookstore pickup only to discover she's the daughter of his ex's new boyfriend and that she's only 16.
By this time you have to wonder how far Duchovny and the show will go. Equal parts funny and twisted, it's kind of like Duchovny.
What to watch this week
SATURDAY, AUGUST 11
MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION (Sci-fi) This summer series offers up Outer Limits- and Twilight Zone-like tales of the weird and bizarre. Tonight's ep features Lost's Terry O'Quinn in a timely story of U.S. troops in Baghdad who discover a mysterious body that may or may not be human. 10 pm on ABC
SUNDAY, AUGUST 12
ENTOURAGE (Comedy) This show about a hot actor on the rise and his posse is like Sex And The City for dudes. And it's got Jeremy Piven, who's reason enough to tune in. 10 pm on TMN