Third-episode verdict: Californication

Carusometer for Californication2-Partial-Caruso

Remember when you were a kid and first learnt about swear words? You might have used them to shock, thinking how daring you were.


Tee hee.

But for any adult in the vicinity, it was probably all a bit tedious. A bit dull, really.

Been there done that.

Californication has the exact same problem – but with sex. Since there’s not an awful lot of swearing and sex on US TV (unless you look in particular areas), there’s a temptation for any show that’s actually given licence to swear and depict graphic sex to do that and nothing else. All the time.

Not wanting to sound stereotypically English and prudish, but surely there’s got to be more to a show than that? We’ve had graphic sex and swearing on British TV for ages now and as a result, compared to American audiences, starved of any on-screen depictions of adult situations, relationships, etc, I feel like a grown-up being forced to sit through an episode of Torchwood: get over your new-found freedom, guys, and get on with the actual plot, because I’m bored now.

Californication would like to be an adult show. It has adult themes. It has adults talking about adult concepts. And it’s not stupid.

But it’s so self-satisfied with how cutting edge and daring it is, that it’s forgotten that there needs to be a bit more to a comedy – or indeed a drama – than fornication, masturbation, and smoking (weed or tobacco; what will the parents think?).

The cast are good, there are some funny lines and situations. It’s just not that funny. The characters aren’t that involving – in fact, they’re pretty repellent and uninteresting. At the end of each episode – how shall I put this – it all feels so anti-climatic, despite the build-up. I’m hoping it gets better though, since it still has a sheen of promise about it and the first two episodes weren’t bad. And it’s not stupid. And it has the occasional cameo from Lucy Davies.

So The Medium is Not Enough declares Californication a two or “Partial Caruso” on The Carusometer quality scale. A Partial Caruso corresponds to “a show with two walk-on cameos by David Caruso as a self-declared ‘ladies man’. Suggesting the script should be rewritten to include his trademark killer chat-up line, ‘I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help but notice you over here not noticing me,’ he will then be forced to leave the set when he damages his back while trying to dance at an angle of 45?Ǭ?.”


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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