Written by: Patrick Kelly, CC2K TV Editor
Californication Outstrips Entourage
An Uneccessary Debate
CBS’ New Hit Show! Yes! Another One!
Song that somehow isn’t included in a scene in a TV show where there is a teenage/slacker/college/hipster drinking scene/montage: Born Ruffians- “I Need a Life”
Sunday: “Condoms, coke and lobster tail.”
Californication, one of the best new shows on television (if you don’t watch it you should start), has a lot of things: depth and dialogue, wit and grace, titties and titties. But what stands out, past the one-liners and the d-cups, is its soul— Its narcissistic, morally right, dense soul. Its this intangible that makes the show something more than just a 30 minute time filler; it’s what makes this show better (like Wendy’s: WAAAAYYYY BETTER) than its premium channel Sunday counterpart, Entourage.
The comparison seems obvious, being that they are both on Sunday night, they both center around characters who are looking to find their way in LA, they both are 30 minutes long and they include girls who are both too good looking to exist and too easy to be real. But, this is not why I’m making the comparison: I’m making it because Californication does everything with nothing and Entourage does nothing with everything.
Although Californication is mainly about why it’s important to possess a correctly calibrated moral compass, it also happens to include depth and characters built out of something more solid than a semi-scripted lunch (gotcha Hills). Each scene’s sole purpose seems to be to go for the joke and, still, with each scene the tightly wound world of Moody expands a little more, into something grabable and familiar, into substance. Just from this week’s episode… There’s a decent handjob joke and “You have to love him for who he is. Not his potential” in the same conversation. In one scene you watch a man watch himself masturbating (and be fired)—which is hilarious—and in the next you hear him coked up, talking about how depressing it is to watch himself masturbate—-which is sad/sadly funny. It’s really funny and really serious, but it somehow, convincingly, keeps the two separated as if to assure the viewer the show is not, and will never be, too serious.
Entourage has none of that. I don’t know if it has any core at all, its a 30 minute Nip/Tuck. Each scene’s goal is to either a) establish which entouragee’s turn it is to be made to look ultracool/ashamed or b) simply show where they go next. That’s it. I don’t know if there has ever been a show that simply shows where a group of people go next and assumes that the storyline is moving successfully forward (except this week’s, of course, in which they simply stayed put for the entire episode). Of course, it was never Entourage’s goal to become Six Feet Under, but it has to be part of the explanation why its fans (and I know a lot of them!) are getting frustrated. Since each scene contains only one, or two, (mediocre) punchlines and absolutely no substance it shouldn’t be surprising that people are losing interest. Look here: Girls! Modern! Attention!
Californication, essentially, is about doing what’s right (which inherently feels really wrong in LA). It’s about the choices that Hank Moody must make and how those choices (mostly negatively) affect those he loves. But mostly, it’s about something. It’s about how difficult it should be to make the right choice. It’s about choosing love over convenience. It’s about choosing life over work. It’s about conscious. It’s about titties (well, I guess, so is Entourage).
Thursday/Saturday: “And the big winner was…whoever you already liked.”
Normally, I would side with what I assume to be Josh Lyman, Toby Zeigler and Sam Seaborn’s fictional stance: Show me the candidates and I will be able to make up my own mind. Sadly, this past week, I couldn’t have felt stronger against that sentiment. All week I waited, not for democracy on display, but for NBC to announce that they were going to show an all new episode of The Office instead of the one and only Vice Presidential debate (If past Pat knew future Pat would write that sentence he would have punched him in the face two weeks ago). I hate to sound dramatic (and, at this point, cliché) but I couldn’t stand to watch the mediocrity parade. Well, it turns out, I watched it anyway. And it was as bad as everyone hoped. It was as bad everyone dreamt it could be, which is the sad part. Everyone bitched about how sadly low the expectations for the debate had become, yet everyone still managed to lend credence to the debate. If the actual debate isn’t the point of the debate than what is the point of having the fucking thing.
However, despite the uninformative debate (I’m pretty sure being given the opportunity to sway people by the information you provide is the sole purpose of a debate), there was one positive to it being televised: It gave SNL material. (Comedy comes round circle.) Per usual, SNL nailed the themes—which still seem to somehow allude a good 50% of the population—right on the head. Obviously, they touched on the issue that Sarah Palin may or may not be just a cute robot: “And finally, We would like to remind our audience that due to the historically low expectations for Governor Palin, were she simply to do an adequate job tonight and at no point cry, faint, run out of the building or vomit you should consider the debate a tie.” They called out Biden and his weirdly-planned tactic to seem middle of the road: Don’t actually say anything that could be taken as middle of the road, just use extremes for the negative (“McCain is the devil”) and the positive (“McCain is my best friend”). Somehow, his advisors had to have been thinking, if the American people watch him display strong opinions on opposite sides he must be in the middle. Well done. The funniest take (and, therefore, truth) to the debate was Palin’s impenetrable ability to shake off, ignore or just plainly refuse a question (“Would you like to comment?” “No, thank you.”). This, in turn, brought further truth to Brian Regan’s stand-up where he points out the ridiculousness of the politician’s ability (and our acceptance of that ability) to answer questions with, “Well let me answer that question with another question.” We didn’t need further proof that Regan had it right, Palin, by flatly denying to answer almost every question posed to her, just took it to a whole new level.
Monday: “I thought everything was great.”
There is nothing worse than Meet the Parents. Scratch that. There is nothing worse than executives thinking they can replicate the physical humor of Chaplin and the three Stooges with the situational what-can-go-wrong-next humor that populates Meet the Parents. The same scene is replicated over and over in the film only with a different interchangeable background (bathroom, family room, outside) and a different prop (cat, electric line, stuffed animal), the difference between the former and letter being the advent of the cell phone age. It was bad that the first one was ever rolled out, but what was worse was that demand brought back a second one.
In keeping with that demand, and because there doesn’t seem to be a third Meet the Whatever coming out, CBS has decided to fill the gap with a TV show centered around that very premise. Yay! Demand meets supply! It’s called Worst Week. And it’s awful. The only thing lazier than a grown man lying on a couch, fingers crusted over with white cheddar popcorn and mouth stained by that sweet ass Mountain Dew is show based on something that constantly goes wrong.
This show, this Worst Week, will undoubtedly last at least 4 seasons, and will be nominated for at least 1 emmy.