by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & Californication & r & & r & (Showtime, Sundays, 10pm) & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & "O & lt;/span & h gaaawwd," I thought, watching my favorite FBI agent engage in a sloppy three-way with some blonde and Charlotte's turtle-headed husband from Sex and the City, "Mulder's a freak."
Worse, I thought, "he's totally killing his chances of marrying not-Scully."
Perception is a strange thing. Despite his narration of Showtime's soft-core Red Shoe Diaries series, his recurring role as a transvestite in Twin Peaks and his recent time in rehab for sex addiction, I've never been able to disconnect David Duchovny from his thoroughly asexual character Fox Mulder, whom he played on The X-Files for 10 seasons.
Not even the entire first season of Californication -- in which he plays Hank Moody, a novelist with a sexual compulsive streak, and which I watched in a compressed two-day TiVo-frenzy -- could shake Duchovny's Mulderness.
As time passed, though, and I had conversations with friends about what this new series was trying to do (or not trying hard enough to do), I came to really appreciate the differences between Mulder's stoicism and Moody's brooding. I came to see Moody as a character with more cultural importance than Mulder.
Duchovny isn't a great actor, but he's picked good roles. He was wonderful as the squint-eyed and single-mindedly passionate Mulder; he's probably better in Californication, playing the broodingly brash, horny, prickish and deeply insecure man-child Moody.
It's reading more into the show than creator Tom Kapinos and his writers have given us so far, but the self-assertive chauvinist warrior-poet is one of Western literature's most enduring and ridiculous self-mythologies -- novelists writing themselves into the lead roles of their own sexual mythos (hack-Hemingway-cough). The character of Moody does exactly that, and thus has a real opportunity to take the piss out of the persistent clich & eacute;, to show that the measure of men is not what they write or who they bed, but how they behave and who they love. To stop being an active child, basically, and become a reflective adult.
If Duchovny, Kapinos and company manage that, I might forget who Fox Mulder even is. The second season finds Moody stumbling toward redemption, but this is looking like a five-season series, so prepare for another 40-odd episodes of meaningless sex and self-loathing. That is, unless the Red Hot Chili Peppers win their lawsuit.
Cultural imperialism for the 2K8! Interested to see how much NBC keeps of Defoe's character, which James Joyce called "the true prototype of the British colonist. ... the manly independence, the unconscious cruelty, ... the sexual apathy, the calculating taciturnity." Sounds like a blast.
We'll also see how well NBC handles Friday, the freed slave Defoe made Crusoe's errand boy. The "You're my master, but I'm not your slave" shtick has the whiff of the Noble Savage. (NBC, Fridays, 8 pm)
Rufus Sewell is such a great bad guy and such a heady film actor in general, I'm worried that this show about a "biophysicist" who investigates scientific abominations for the FBI is below his depth. (CBS, Thursdays, 10 pm)
So what police department thought it would be a good idea to let a TV production crew follow around a gang of its wet-behind-the-ears academy graduates as they bumble their way through their first assignments as cops? The Tampa Police Department, that's who. (A & amp;E, premieres Tuesday, Oct. 21, 10 pm)