CALIFORNICATION 4.04 ‘Monkey Business’

A dead monkey and a dead millionaire cause some major problems for Hank and Charlie.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

CALIFORNICATION 4.04 'Monkey Business'

Episode Title: "Monkey Business"

Writers: Gabe Roth & Matt Patterson

Director: Bart Freundlich

Previously on "Californication":

Hank Moody (David Duchovny) was unable to deal with the stress of his family rejecting him and the pending statutory rape charges, so he drowned his sorrows in pills and alcohol. Unfortunately, he soon overdosed and nearly died. But when he woke up in the hospital, his worried girlfriend Karen (Natascha McElhone) let him back into her life because she thought he tried to kill himself. Meanwhile, their daughter Becca (Madeleline Martin) kept Hank at an emotional distance.

Meanwhile, Hank’s agent, Charlie Runkle (Evan Handler) evaded film producer Stu Beggs (Stephen Tobolowsky). But when he encountered Charlie’s soon-to-be ex-wife, Marcy (Pamela Adlon), Stu forgot that he was angry that Hank still hadn’t finished the revised film script for. "F***ing and Punching." When Becca finally had a face off with Hank, she lashed out at him for even thinking about killing himself. Then he admitted the truth to her, which once again alienated Hank from his family. Alone with his sadness at last, Hank finally sat down to write the script.

Story:

Sometime later, Charlie emerges from the hotel bathroom with Hank’s script in hand. He says that he loved it and even found it erotic, which Hank finds mildly disturbing. Hank attempts to finally wallow in his misery, but Charlie drags him to a dinner meeting with the prospective film’s primary investor. At the restaurant, Hank meets Zig (Fisher Stevens), a batsh** crazy financier and his two "sister wives," who may actually be sisters. After being incredibly rude to Charlie, he tells Hank that he wants them all to adjourn to his mansion for a private reading of the script.

At Zig’s incredible palace of a home, Hank performs as himself while the sister wives read the female parts. Stu, Charlie and the film’s director are also watching the performance with Zig. Inexplicably, Hank’s words stir the first erection in years from Zig, who has one of his wives blow him before he leaves to handle his erection by himself. He leaves the wives to make out with each other, but they eventually move on to Hank. When he rejects them, Charlie and the director each take one sister to bed while Stu and Hank get high.

In bed with one of the sisters, Charlie is harassed by Zig’s pet monkey, which flings its poop at him and bites his arm. Charlie throws it across the room, killing it; which horrifies the woman he was about to sleep with. Hank and Stu think that it’s funny when they learn about it, but they insist that Charlie confess to Zig immediately. However, they soon find that Zig has accidentally killed himself in an auto-erotic asphyxiation hanging. While Stu leaves immediately, Hank stays calm and calls his lawyer, Abby (Carla Gugino).

At Marcy’s home, she and Karen allow Becca’s new band to practice there. During the night, Marcy learns that she’s pregnant and she insists that it isn’t Charlie’s baby. She briefly hints that she doesn’t want a baby but she seems to come around to the idea of being a mother. Later, Ben (Michael Ealy), the father of the band’s lead singer shows up and begins openly flirting with Karen; which she seems to enjoy. When Hank and Charlie arrive (thanks to Abby’s legal wizardry), Hank immediately turns around and leaves when he sees Karen and Ben talking together intimately.

Breakdown:

Can I be the first to say that I am sick of seeing Evan Handler naked on my TV?

At first I thought that Charlie was kind of endearingly awkward, but this focus on him and his sexual conquests is really getting stomach churning. Did this show somehow become fixated on his pasty white ass? It’s "bad naked," as Jerry Seinfeld used to say.

That said, the scene with Charlie fighting the monkey was pretty funny. I didn’t expect him to actually kill the monkey, even accidentally. But then again, how many auto-erotic accidental suicides do you see on TV? I can’t say that I was sorry to see Zig go. Fisher Stevens did his job well: in just a handful of scenes, I came to hate his character enough that his death was a welcome turn of events.

Stu was a lot more bearable in this episode, but as the guy who pointed out that the security cameras had captured everything that happened that night, his sudden rush to leave when a dead body showed up wasn’t going to do him any good if the police checked the tapes. So, that was a big brain fart by either the writers or the character. 

Hank’s calm under pressure helped lead to the most hilarious sequence of the show in which Charlie was tasered by an overzealous security guard (or was it a cop?!) whom Hank proceeded to punch out. Good times. It was also nice to see Carla Gugino show up again as Abby, though from the look of her I think Hank pulled her away from a date.

The B-plot for the week wasn’t as entertaining. Becca is actually not that interesting on her own and she’s even less so as a part of this new band. I don’t even remember if she had any lines in this episode. The other subplot about Marcy’s pregnancy was expected, but there’s really no emotional investment unless it’s Charlie’s (which she denies) or Hank’s (which seems highly unlikely). If the baby’s father really is someone she met on Craig’s List, then it’s the laziest writing ever.

This episode was ultimately unfulfilled. It had some potential to be good, but when vile things happen to vile people, it’s hard to care unless it’s blindingly hilarious. I’d say this was slightly funnier than an average episode of "Entourage."

And that’s not a compliment.

Crave Online Rating: 6 out of 10.