Monday, August 27, 2007

"John From Cincinnati" caught a wave back to Hooterville


Alas, but the HBO surf drama John From Cincinnati has had it's season finale, and the network quickly announced after the broadcast that the eccentric program would not be renewed. This isn't a surprise, since this David Milch series (NYPD Blue, Deadwood)could find the credible (and endurable) balance between spiritual weirdness and the gritty, noir elements the writers and producers sought to beguile us with. There was a time in many a young man's life when strangeness and ambiguity by themselves were enough to satisfy a naive hankering for
subjects of greater depth and complexity, but one requires more as they get older. John, very much in a hurry to introduce it's skewed admixture, never seemed to get beyond the fevered brain storming stages wherein subplots are offered rapidly, and Twilight Zone/Twin Peaks components are offered to baffle you with their quixotic oddness.

This was a mixture that never came together as a palatable whole, and it was frankly incoherent in ways that telegraph the probability that MiLch and his writing staff hadn't the slightest idea what any of their ideas would add to: the connection between the titular character and Jesus were rather obvious, and the failure here is that one was not made to care with the Yost family "got back in the game" or not. This was a static show where no one really worked at any jobs that demanded attention who instead spent the whole of their time hanging out in surf shops, beach houses, public beaches or dingy motels in inexplicable states of rage, anger, swearing in impossible combinations in the club-footed cadences Milch has been famous for since NYPD Blue broadcast on ABC in the early nineties. None of it had that much to with surfing; the sport seemed an exotic backdrop for all this grousing and grumbling, which is a shame. The sport and the culture and the region where it exists is largely unexplored dramatically, and there are some quality scripts to be written and produced.David Milch had his chance and wiped out.