Case Number 27133: Small Claims Court

CALIFORNICATION: THE SIXTH SEASON

Showtime Entertainment // 2013 // 341 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // March 25th, 2014

The Charge

"Worst intervention ever." -- Hank Moody

The Case

Science fiction and more progressive strains of rock 'n' roll have a long history of collusion and mutual influence. Harder rock, though, has had less truck with more literary material. Except, that is, for Californication. Its hero, Hank Moody, has aspired to a two-fisted love of both American literary heavyweights and the hard-rock lifestyle. Although Hank Moody's life as a writer has brought him into more contact with the world of Hollywood, his most successful encounters have been with the world of rock. That's what buoyed Season Two of Californication . With Californication: The Sixth Season, Hank returns to that world for the best season of the show since that fabled season. Given that Season Seven has been announced as the show's last, it's nice to see it get its legs again after so many years.

Hank Moody's (David Duchovny, The X-Files) life is in a decent place after Season Five ended with his suicide scare, but nothing is ever perfect for the partying writer. This season revolves around Moody's collaboration with coked-up rock star Atticus Fetch (singer/songwriter Tim Minchin). Fetch wants to make a stage show: Moody does the writing, Fetch does the music. However, his crazy lifestyle will embroil Hank in more shenanigans, especially when gorgeous groupie/muse Faith (Maggie Grace, Taken) decides to make Hank her next project.

I enjoyed Season Five, but it felt like the show was running out of steam. As much as I love the RZA and his character Samurai Apocalypse, Hank Moody just doesn't fit into the hip-hop world quite as easily as he does the world of hard-drinkin' and hard-partyin' rock 'n' rollers. This season returns Hank to that world he knows best, that of jet-setting rock star Atticus Fetch. Combining that with the introduction of Faith, a fellow devotee of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle. Atticus helps to give Hank's wild side a bit of a goose, while Faith acts as the creative muse he needs personally and professionally. Together (combined with the scary ending of the previous season), they help catalyze what might be an actual change for Hank. Though he's been the lovable rascal who can't or won't change for several seasons, this time he seems to be putting things into a different perspective. The whole season sets up the possibility of a satisfying ending for Season Seven.

Beyond their characters, both Maggie Grace and Tim Minchin bring much-needed energy to the continuing escapades of Moody and his extended family and support system. Grace plays the free-spirit rocker-chick with gravity and sex appeal, differentiating herself strongly from most of the women that Hank has been intermittently involved in over the last several years. She knows what she wants out of Hank and makes no bones about it. Tim Minchin, though, is unhinged as Atticus Fetch. Minchin's stage persona is a bit wild, with outsized hair and makeup, but the really goes for it here. He's constantly shirtless in leather pants, playing up the coke-and-booze lifestyle of the rocker. His musical performances make it obvious that his day job is as a performer.

The other stories that revolve around Hank are compelling this time out as well. Runkle and Marcia are still circling, Karen and Becca are still trying to sort out their lives around Hank's, and all of these stories intersect in ways that move the show forward.

I still wish Californication could get a three-disc release instead of cramming all the episodes onto two discs (or, heavens forfend, an HD release), but these 1.78:1 anamorphic transfers look okay. The image is generally detailed and bright, with good black levels and less in the way of artefacting compared to previous seasons. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks are fine as well, with clear dialogue and minimal directionality. Extras this time out consist of two episodes of Ray Donovan.

Of course Hank is still a prick, and he still drinks too much and has too much casual sex. This season is slightly more blasphemous than previous seasons. Now we not only have a scenes of Hank talking dirty in a church, we get a talking Jesus (also played by Tim Minchin), who isn't quite like the one people learn about in Sunday School.

Californication: The Sixth Season returns Hank Moody to the world of rock 'n' roll, and with good results. We're actually seeing changes in Moody's character, and though his life may not be perfect, this seasons sets up the possibility for a real corker of a final season. Fans might gripe about the continued two-disc, few extras release pattern, but overall, this is the best set of episodes since Season Two.

The Verdict

Not guilty.

Review content copyright © 2014 Gordon Sullivan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 94

Perp Profile
Studio: Showtime Entertainment
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English

Running Time: 341 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Bonus Episodes

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0904208/combined

* Official Site
http://www.sho.com/sho/californication/home