Tuesday, July 17, 2007

John From Cincinnati

After watching six episodes of HBO's newest drama - most at least twice - I can safely, and finally, recommend this show as worthy of your precious time and attention. It struck me today, especially, reading about the show on HBO.com, in writer Steve Hawk's Inside the Episode, where he quotes creator David Milch, "The important point that I'm trying to make is that storytelling has nothing, whatsoever, to do with logic."

Well, obviously. JFC makes very little sense in a conventional way. A stranger wanders into the lives of a dysfunctional family of surfers in Imperial Beach, California and strange things start to happen. Sure, it's not the exquisite and complicated quilt of characters like Deadwood or even the gritty sad reality of NYC cops like NYPD Blue, but as the episodes pass in their slow and deliberate and often bewildering way, I have become as fascinated by the show as it seems the writers of it are. A few of the many great moments will linger in my memory for a long time, I'm sure, so passionate and powerful they are.

And the dialogue! Just like Deadwood, the dialogue is what drives this show. Even though Steve Hawk recommends we watch what the characters do and not what they say, it's what they say that is so weird and strange and interesting. The way the characters interact - in all their verbal violence - is what separates this show from anything else on TV.

For Deadwood fans, there's a particular joy from seeing characters we love from that show on this new Milch show. Particularly one of my favorite Deadwoodians, Charlie Utter (Dayton Callie), playing the heroin-dealin' Hawaiian Freddy. Also great to see Ellsworth, Jim Beaver, playing the pot-growin', spliff-rollin', Vietnam Joe. And, great (in a weird sort of uncomfortable way) to see Deadwood's Frances Wolcott (and first Deadwood role, Wild Bill-murdering Jack McCall) returned playing a nice guy (wow!), Dr. Smith. Also, the latest episode had an all-too-brief cameo from Deadwood's Trixie, Paula McCalomson.

To sum up, John From Cincinnati is not an easy show to like. I didn't recommend it to anyone for the first few weeks it was on, but now I feel confident that anyone who watches it and has the patience to deal with some confusion and some really weird characters, will be in for a very rewarding experience.


Shawn said...

So you are telling me I gotta watch 5 hours of the show before I can get it? Hmm...I'm not convinced.

Elad said...

you make a valid point, sure, but it's worth the journey, so i stand by my recommendation.

Marcella said...

Good words.