TV on DVD

californicationCalifornication: Season One
This summer he’ll reprise the role of Fox Mulder (albeit only in a one-off film of The X-Files) but David Duchovny proves here that he’s more than an alien obsessed FBI agent. This dark comedy follows writer Hank Moody (Duchovny) living in California and pining over his ex-wife, disliking her new husband-to-be and dealing with his friend/agent and the many ways in which Moody can make a mess of all their lives. Duchovny does dry, irreverent comedy astutely, and his agent (played by Evan Handler of Sex And The City fame) is a perfect foil for his social disasters. It’s sharp and laugh-out loud funny, with dialogue and a script that blows away 90 per cent of anything that doesn’t have Aaron Sorkin’s name on it, and it’s rightly been picked up for another season. However, that’s held up because The Red Hot Chili Peppers are suing over usage of the word ‘Californication’, but given that this series is infinitely better than any of their slap-bass extended-Seinfeld-riff they would do well to let something creative and fresh keep the moniker. Due to the sexual nature of some scenes it is unlikely to ever get screened on television over here (at least without major cuts), so watching it on DVD is highly recommended. There are only 12 episodes, but each is a little gem full of fine performances and exceptional writing. Matt Pomroy

The Riches: Season One
Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver lead the cast as the parents of the Malloy family – a band of Irish travellers, con artists and thieves. After the people in the traveller commune they live in try to force their daughter into an arranged marriage, the Malloys steal money and go on the run. Halfway across the Louisiana backroads they’re involved in a crash that leaves a wealthy couple dead – the titular Riches – who were on their way to their new house. So instead, the Malloys move in and pretend to be them. Within the affluent gated community in Baton Rouge, they try to live as regular people, but constantly struggle to avoid the lifestyle of their past. Once you get over the unlikely premise, this is a great original series with surprisingly good performances. Driver is exceptionally good as Dahlia Malloy, just out of jail and still suffering from a drug habit she picked up on the inside, and like many who have moved to the small screen Driver is putting in the sort of role she hinted at (throughout Good Will Hunting in her case), but never followed up in film. Likewise Izzard, after small parts in big films and bigger parts in dreadful ones, has found a role to fit his talent and somehow pulls off the most unlikely of characters. Forget the Izzard of stand-up comedy, tottering about on heels and rambling on about bees and Star Trek, here he’s polished and the three children are wonderfully oddball, and somehow this not only works as a series, it’s one of the most original, funny and inventive shows out there. Matt Pomroy

For Time Out magazine – for original PDF click here- DVD Reviews

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