NEW YORK — Hank Moody, the hero of Showtime’s comedy “Californication,” is a roguish struggling novelist who says whatever is on his mind and feels a tug from every member of the opposite sex.
He might get into less trouble if he kept his lips buttoned and his fly zipped. But that wouldn’t be Hank, nor would it be “Californication,” which mines laughs (and, occasionally, gasps) from Hank’s erotic misadventures, and those of his sexed-up fellow travelers.
Starring David Duchovny, “Californication” begins its third season Sunday at 10 p.m. with Hank landing a much-needed teaching job at a local college. This is thanks to a professor who is the sexy mother of a friend of Hank’s teenage daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin).
Here in academia, Hank is primed to seduce his new colleague (whose husband, the dean of the college, is his boss), while a graduate assistant and a sassy coed are also on Hank’s radar.
“I call it adult comedy,” says Duchovny, “but not in the Triple-X sense. It’s adult comedy because the characters are acting foolish but not acting like children. I see most mainstream American comedies with adults acting like children. Hank is childish, but he’s not a child. He’s a man acting childishly.”
Clad smart but un-starlike in a sweater and cords, the 49-year-old Duchovny is meeting a reporter at a luncheonette on the Upper East Side, where he lives with actress Tea Leoni, his wife of a dozen years, and their two children.
In midsentence, he spies a hand-lettered sign above the vintage soda fountain.
“They have banana splits!” he says. “I got to tell the kids about that.”
These days, Duchovny’s family is together and stronger than ever, he’s happy to report.
“Things are great,” he sums up, sharing details from a cross-country RV trip they made this summer after shooting wrapped on “Californication.” Highlights: Grand Canyon, a ball game in St. Louis and a visit with an Amish family in Ohio.