HBO’s venture into the land of one-hour drama is a family drama. Of course since it’s HBO isn’t not just a family drama, it’s a family drama co-created by David Milch featuring levitation and a character who’s either an idiot or sent from the heavens.
Full disclosure; it took me two and half viewings to fully appreciate the debut. The first viewing I mainly focused on the relationships and getting my bearings. The second time around I spend all I had on the characters and the nuance of their relationships. And the watching for the third time I really grew to appreciate the use of language.
Speaking of language, John From Cincinnati is cut from the same cloth as Deadwood (which comes as no surprise as Milch was also the hand shaping that program) in that characters are prone to speaking in patterns that both comfort and confound. As I recall, it took me awhile to get the rhythm of Deadwood, and this rhythm is similar.
I do think that the show, again like Deadwood before it, might be a bit too dense for the viewing public. Tons of information is in the debut, but it took me nearly three viewings to think that I might possibly have caught most of it. Maybe it’s “first episode set-up syndrome” or maybe it’s just Milch. I dig it, but I can see how Joe Average who’s used to being spoon-fed might be put off.
The basic nexus of the show revolves around the Yosts. Mitch is the patriarch, a surfing great who’s body betrayed him, oh and he’s got occasional bouts of levitation. His wife Cissy is trying to be a supporting grandmother to Shaun, who dreams of turning pro and following in his family’s footsteps. Shaun’s dad (and Mitch and Cissy’s son) is the washed up Butchie, who happens to be addicted to heroin.
The of course there’s the titular John. John, who repeats what others say, never has any answers, yet seemingly has whatever anyone’s looking for. He’s an intriguing character who on the wrong show would seem terribly out of place, but here he works.
John From Cincinnati might seem like a tough sell, but given the pedigree of those involved and a strong, if demanding, debut, I think I’m in for the long haul.
Sir Linksalot: Television News