Wax Banks Milch, Luck, John from Cincinnati, there you go.
“A recent MetaFilter comment of mine, reproduced for fanciful/archival reasons:
Milch has been working on Luck in one form or another for a long time, and I’m so glad to see he’s found a way to work it final form. I read the pilot script a while back (thanks T. –wa.) and it’s both (1) very Milch and (2) not Deadwood, so the usual complaints will apply from the usual folks.
John from Cincinnati was an astonishing piece of work but hard to categorize, predict, or map onto other contemporary TV shows. For one thing, it’s an extremely optimistic show; its plot is ‘God figures 9/11 is just the beginning of these idiots destroying themselves, so he sends an autistic Jesus to visit some junkies and washouts in a surfing town to give them helpful don’t-destroy-yourself advice.’ Its story, meanwhile, involves said washouts and junkies accommodating divine experience and discovering their own interdependence and inseparability. It’s a generational story, closely observed in interpersonal terms, yet (this is the hardest part) its strategies of representation are in no small part iconic and evocative.
Which is to say the entire show has the hallucinatory intensity and spiritual focus of the Season One Deadwood finale – in which Cochran prays for God’s pity and forgiveness and (for reasons both biographical and metaphorical) Swearengen bestows it – but without the generic reassurances and archaism-tolerance settings of that earlier show. It helps to see JfromC as a companion piece to Deadwood, clarifying and expanding on its ‘metaphysical’ themes. It’s a Gospel, more John(!) than Mark, but it’s also a Revelation story – and (here’s the tough bit) the symbolic and (let’s say) ‘characterological’ or realistic dimensions of the show exist in unfamiliar proportions. Without the assortment of conditioning signals and prefatory gestures that Westerns and cop shows provide, you’ve gotta take everything about the show on faith.
Which is (surprise!) one of the main points of the show itself anyhow.
If you’re interested in Milch, you should unquestionably listen to his Writers Guild lectures from a couple of years back – during the writers’ strike – found here. Scroll down to the PODCAST entries and the videos below them. After a couple of listens you start to get a sense for how comprehensive and serious the man’s thought is – in six hours of lectures he doesn’t say anything, not a word, by accident. They’re fucking great”.
Dragon is proud to welcome aboard Keala Kennelly. Keala joins an all-star squad including top female athlete Chelsea Hedges, along with Mick Fanning, Rob Machado, and elite big-wave chargers Shane Dorian and Reef Macintosh.
“I am so pumped to be joining the Dragon Alliance team,” says Keala. “Their eyewear is so fresh. I actually have a hard time deciding which pair to wear everyday, because they are all so HOT!”
Keala’s style and spark embody the image of the brand. Credited as the first female to charge Teahupoo, Keala is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and fearless women in surfing. But more than just a big-wave phenomenon who happens to charge 10-foot Teahupoo, this former World Tour surfer has a long list of accolades that includes everything from DJing to acting in mainstream TV shows and Hollywood flicks.
“We are stoked to work with someone as creative and unique as Keala. Over the course of her career, she has pushed the limits of women’s surfing and is still at the forefront of big-wave surfing. I look forward to seeing what is next,” says Rick Irons, Global Brand Manager.
Keala has been nominated for the Billabong XXL “Girls Best Overall Performance” award. To see Keala’s tow-in action at Jaws go to . The awards go down this Friday April 23, at 7pm. Check back then to see the results.
Funny that JFC is recommended as some “beach reading” , but it is a good, grateful mention anyway.
Ryan McGee “Onto TV and music suggestions inspired by this week’s episode! On the TV front, what better series to recommend in the wake of a spiritual/mystical revival on a beach than HBO’s “John from Cincinnati.” It’s my life’s goal to double this show’s number of fans. Currently, it seemingly stands at two. But my wife and I are willing to welcome more. If you think “Lost” is confusing, wait until you get a load of what happens halfway through this short-lived, completely misunderstood series. The line and the circle are BIG, people. Trust me.”
Horse Injured and Euthanized While Filming on the Set of ‘Luck’
DENVER, May 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — During the April 30, 2010, filming of the new HBO series pilot, Luck, a racehorse stumbled following a short race sequence and fell on its shoulder, causing a severe fracture. The two veterinarians on the scene deemed the condition inoperable and determined that the most humane course of action was euthanasia. An American Humane Certified Animal Safety Representative™ was monitoring the animal action on the set when the incident occurred.
“This was an unfortunate accident that was in no way a result of any mistreatment or negligence on the part of HBO,” said Karen Rosa, vice president of American Humane’s Film & Television Unit. “We are all sincerely saddened by this accident that happened after the final shot on the final day of filming for this show. Throughout filming, HBO has been extremely collaborative and responsive to the many safety guidelines and precautions we put in place.”
Luck revolves around the culture of horseracing. “The pilot is about a bunch of intersecting lives in the world of the horseracing track,” David Milch recently told Daily Variety. Milch is the creator and executive producer of the show, along with executive producer Michael Mann. Milch is able to professionally view horseracing from every angle, as he owns close to 100 horses and has won several Breeders’ Cup races.
In the 70 years of oversight by American Humane for the film and television industry, countless animal injuries and deaths have been prevented by American Humane’s presence on the set. Sadly, despite all precautions, accidents do occasionally happen, but as long as animals continue to be used in film and television entertainment, American Humane will continue to monitor their treatment and work to ensure their safety.”
“Stephen King’s novella “The Colorado Kid” is coming to Syfy as Haven, and its leading lady, Emily Rose, recently spilled some beans about the show, which will premiere in July.
“It’s definitely based on the characters of ‘The Colorado Kid,’ but I would say it’s about a girl named Audrey [Parker], who’s an orphan and becomes an FBI agent,” Rose (Jericho, John From Cincinnati) said last week in an exclusive interview at Syfy’s upfront session for advertisers in New York. “She ends up getting sent on this case up in Maine. When she goes up there, she kind of starts having these things happen to her, and she sort of starts feeling like she’s been called home. Paranormal things happen, and some exciting things happen for her, and it’s not only her unraveling this murder case, but kind of unraveling the case of herself, honestly. It’s pretty fascinating.”
More specifically, Haven is a small town in Maine that is literally a haven for cursed people, many with supernatural powers, and when the curses start kicking in again, it’s up to Parker to help put a halt to them. In addition to Rose, the cast includes Lucas Bryant (Odyssey 5, Queer as Folk) as Parker’s wry partner, Wuornos, and Eric Balfour (24) as Duke Crocker, a mysterious local.
“She’s a strong-willed girl,” Rose said of Parker. “In order to identify with her, I have to think, ‘What’s it like to really not have a family, to not have a place to go home to for Christmas or not have anyone you belong to?’ And she ends up finding belonging within the FBI, and that’s kind of fascinating to me. That drives her, the mystery of self, the mystery of belonging somewhere.”
The show, which has a 13-episode commitment from Syfy, will be executive-produced by the Dead Zone team of Lloyd Segan and Shawn Piller, while their Dead Zone partner Scott Shepherd—who also worked on Tru Calling—will serve as show runner. Production on Haven is set to begin soon in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the series should premiere on Syfy this summer.
Haven will represent Rose’s first major credit, with her name at the top of the call sheet. It’s a challenge she welcomes. “It’s a big responsibility,” she said. “The great part of that responsibility is that you really get to set the tone for the show. You get to set an excitement to be there at work, to look around you and really rally everyone. It’s a huge responsibility, but one I am so excited to take on.”
Let’s return to the beginning: that was posted June 11, 2007.
“If Chris Albrecht hadn’t already lost his job as HBO’s chairman and CEO for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend last month at the MGM Grand, the outcry from “Deadwood” fans this week would have sealed his fate.
It’s not that it’s bad, it’s that I’m already three episodes into “John” and I have no idea what’s going on.
A levitating surfer? A bird that brings the dead back to life? Rebecca De Mornay playing the grandmother of a 13-year-old?
Still, all of that makes more sense than the title character.
Looking like an extra from “The Flamingo Kid,” John (Austin Nichols) shows up in Imperial Beach, Calif., with a vocabulary consisting primarily of “The end is near.” Everything else out of his mouth is something he parrots back, nonsensically, from other people, which automatically paints him as one of TV’s three magical A’s: alien, angel or autistic. No one’s saying which.
And while it’s nice to see some familiar “Deadwood” faces — Jim Beaver (Ellsworth), Dayton Callie (Charlie Utter) and Garret Dillahunt (Jack McCall/Francis Wolcott) — “John” lacks that traditional sense of excitement and grandeur that’s missing from HBO’s latest crop of original series.”
“Zoe’s (protagonist in Caprica) proud smile as her father unknowingly commented her prowess. I’m somewhat at a loss for explaining exactly what the Zobot is doing right now, except to note that the treatment of her character in the show – how different people see her in very different ways, how she might be an angel or a devil or nothing much at all – bears a striking resemblance to the titular character in John From Cincinnati. Everyone hates that show, so I’m not going to say anything, except this: everyone, you’re wrong.”
from: Darren Franich,
(Made me want to watch Caprica (SyFy), and I love Ender’s Game. Saw 2 episodes of Caprica so far, Paula Malcomson was good, the rest – deafening music and constant flashes.)
Very long but very interesting article, written by Kevin Olson (you may remember him, he joined our JFC fan club on Facebook.
Revisiting “John from Cincinnati”, Part One: His Visit Day One and Two
David Milch’s enigmatic and philosophically/theologically elusive (not to mention extremely mind-bending and short lived) follow-up to “Deadwood” remains one of the most misunderstood television experiences of the last ten years. “John from Cincinnati” is a show full of ideas, and in typical Milch form the fact that those ideas are never quite fully fleshed out or explored are beside the point…this is a show that is meant to be experienced, contemplated, and pondered for days after watching it. Sure the religious allegories and deep, twisting metaphors for the soul and life may seem like the least inviting way to spend an evening in front of the television; however, it never seems that Milch – who is a brilliant man almost to a fault – is interested in whether or not we “get” what we’re watching (or more to a point that we’re “entertained” by it), but is more concerned with our cognitive experience while watching it. Milch is interested in stretching our brains with a show that seems like the most basic of premises, but beneath its salt water surface are deeply profound themes about what we believe, how we came to believe it, and who told us to believe it. To some that may seem extremely frustrating, but for me it’s liberating. Here’s a show that allows you to soak up the symbolism and questions, allowing them to marinate in your mind for days, like its surfers soak up the rays and waves.
I’ll spare you the episode-by-episode synopsis. If you’re interested in that just check this out. What I want to explore are some of the shows deep themes, what Milch may be asking us, and why it amazes me that a show like this made it past episode one. Here’s a quick and dirty rundown of main characters, the actors that portray them, and general idea of what the show is about (for the uninitiated):
The show takes place in Imperial Beach – a coastal town tucked in the corner of the western states and a stone’s throw away from Tijuana – a surfing community where our main characters, the Yost family, own a surf shop. Mitch and Cissy (Bruce Greenwood and Rebecca DeMornay) have a son “Butchie” (Brian Van Holt) who was once a great surfer before he became a victim of drug abuse. Mitch was also a renown surfer in the 70’s before a career ending knee injury made him an afterthought. Butchie has a son named Shaun (Greyson Fletcher) who is raised by Cissy and Mitch…Shaun is a surfing and askating prodigy and is highly sought after by a promoter/agent named Link Stark (Luke Perry). Link has a connection with the Yost family as it was his vision and promotion that caused Butchie to become an addict. Mitch is opposed to Shaun “selling out” out of fear that he’ll end up like his father; however, Sissy is more than interested in letting Shaun do what he wants to do, which is competitively surf.
A stranger enters the community named John (Austin Nichols), and Butchie immediately takes a liking to him as he initially mistakes him for a drug runner who owes him money, but as Butchie and everyone else living in Imperial Beach realize…there’s something strange about this John character, and it isn’t long before weird things begin to occur as John becomes a part of these people’s lives. Other important characters include Bill (Ed O’Neil), a retired and obsessive police officer who helped raise Shaun after he busted Butchie for drugs; Kai (Keala Kennelly), an employee of Cissy and Mitch’s surf shop who knows Shaun and was once friends with Butchie; Freddie (Dayton Callie), a Hawaiian drug lord who has connections with Butchie; Barry buys up the dilapidated motel where Butchie stays, he knew Butchie in grade school and has recently won the lottery…a blow to the head as a young man causes him to have epileptic seizures and have visions of ghosts at the motel; Meyer Dickstein (Willie Garson) plays a lawyer in charge of the sale of the motel, he’s also a huge surf fan and admired Butchie before he become an addict; Dr. Michael Smith (Garret Dillahunt) plays the neurologist who treated Shaun after a surfing accident and who begins to question everything he knew after witnessing a miracle; Cass (Emily Rose) a filmmaker formerly employed by Linc Stark who was initially assigned to seduce Mitch and break up Mitch and Cissy’s.
Whew. Okay, so there’s your principal characters (there will be more that I’ll introduce later), but let’s get to what’s more interesting about this show: even though it is as entertaining an hour your likely to spend watching a show about surfers, “John from Cincinnati” really just uses its rather generic plot and setting as a vessel for Milch’s fantastical philosophies.
The first disc covers John’s first two days in Imperial Beach. In these two days Mitch levitates, Butchie no longer feels “dope sick”, Shaun breaks his neck and is presumed dead…only to regain consciousness after Bill’s parakeet kisses him, Mitch levitates some more, John gives Kai an orgasmic and telepathic vision where she sees what all of her friends are doing at that very moment, and Bill’s aforementioned parakeet is brought back to life after Shaun touches it. Yeah, it’s that kind of show. Some may be rolling their eyes and others may be intrigued; and others may be thinking: ‘well it’s the guy that did “Deadwood”…it can’t be that silly or that bad’. If you haven’t seen the show yet my hope is that the themes that I’ll be discussing here and (hopefully) in the comments will compel you to pick it up for cheap on Amazon (it’s only $9.99) or off of Netflix.
Here are some of the main themes that are introduced within the first three episodes. My thoughts follow and I hope we’ll continue this discussion in further posts and comments. I’m going to just do the following outline and thoughts on the theme in lieu of a “traditional” review. Like I said…if you want a more traditional television recap you check out the link above or click here for the consummate pro of television recapping and his take on the show. Onto the themes:
“I try to cast as many people who are as identifiable from a single role as a way of mobilizing the viewer’s sense of impossible arbitrariness of how we remember things. Oh, you know ‘that’s Rebecca DeMornay, she gave Tom Cruise a handjob…or whatever it was’…the difficulty that we have individuating our experience in the present moment as opposed to interpreting it through…in terms of arbitrary associations with the past.”
The above quote is from the commentary track by Milch on the first episode. Two minutes in and Milch has already blew my brain into a million pieces. He talks about the arbitrariness of casting specific actors; for example when people see Luke Perry they don’t think about Link, the character he plays, they think about the fact that he’s the guy from “Beverly Hills, 901210”; when people see Rebecca DeMornay they think “oh, there’s the girl who gave Tom Cruise a handjob.” All of this speaks to the bigger theme of “John from Cincinnati”, this arbitrariness of symbols and such. It’s something that is compounded upon with each subsequent episode, and it’s one of the most fascinating things that seems to swimming around Milch’s head. Now…I don’t know if I even caught a whiff of that that upon second viewing, but I feel okay in my stupidity here because here’s a show that Milch himself admitted we weren’t necessarily supposed to “get”.
Edges and Borders/Fringe Characters and Outsiders in the Community:
The characters are often filmed close up, to the left of the frame; or there are usually characters crowding the frame to suggest that there’s always a lot being seen, but never anything being said. Milch “pushes” thing to the edge – even his setting here, Imperial Beach, is literally on the edge of the coast – to suggest that these characters are not normal, not people we would encounter in normal communities. Like “Deadwood” Milch creates a community of characters that seem otherworldly in the sense that these are people who can only function within their very specific community. One man can easily convince them to do whatever they want to because this is a community that doesn’t ask questions, but just accepts things for the way they are (again, the parallels to “Deadwood” seem clear enough). This also ties in with biblical metaphor of the show: Jesus (John) and his disciples were radicals, seen as outsiders who threatened the very traditions that the Pharisees tried to hold over everyone else as Law in the Jewish community. Also edges and borders suggest fringe characters, outsiders…or a rather apt symbol would be an alien. John, at times, seems more like Starman than Jesus, a character clearly from another place (perhaps world) that is called a “shapeshifter” by Freddie. John apes everything the characters do, and rarely does he have something to say that he hasn’t heard another character say.
Ah…the biggest and most obvious one. The signs are clearly there (and rather overt) for a religious interpretation of Milch’s show. In fact I would bet he insists on it. His characters surf (which often bears the appearance of walking on water); Mitch levitates after meeting the mysterious John; John is from Cincinnati so the initials match up (or as I like to say, in Milch speak his initials add up to J.F.C., or “Jesus Fucking Christ”), not to mention John’s last name is Monad (Monism anyone?); John seems to have the power to heal and “resurrect” characters; John is constantly being led by the hand, or he if he isn’t be led by the hand he’s offering his hand…a strong Christian symbol; characters “see God” which momentarily gives them psychic powers; and finally you could make a case that there are 12 main characters and John is at the center of all of them, (re)connecting (this point becomes pretty in obvious in the series’ shining moment which happens later in the series) them and in some cases mending broken souls.
You could also look at it through a different lens if you don’t want to think of John as a Jesus figure since one of his first lines of the show is, “the end is near”, you could interpret his character as a herald…a John the Baptist type prophesier. His characters are also privy to a bevy of miracles in the first three episodes: Shaun resurrects Bill’s parakeet, the parakeet resurrects Shaun, John’s “magic pockets”, Butchie doesn’t feel dope sick, and Kai’s out-of-body experience. However, all of these characters seem to be initially surprised, but ultimately dismissive (except for Bill) of these miracles. Again once can make a connection to the parallels in the bible and the miracle stories found in the Gospels, and how they were perceived by those in the Jewish community (both with awe and disbelief…and sometimes with an aloofness). The (lack of) response to these miracles — ranging from small (John’s pockets) to large (Shaun’s resurrection) — is one of the more overt and interesting unifying themes of the first three episodes.
Central to the theme, too (and this is true of any Milch endeavor), is the idea that these character are constantly asking themselves how to live. These characters are also as stupid as it gets. In a lecture he gave to a USC classroom Milch states that his idea was to dump someone like John into the world in order to change it…so where did he need to place him to affect the most change: “with the stupidest fucking people in America…the surfers!” This is relevant here because Jesus was sent to affect change, too, and the people he came in contact with (the disciples mostly) were somewhat bumbling in the way they tried to understand what was happening. On the night before his capture Jesus asks a few of his disciples to stay awake with him and pray, and twice they fall asleep unable to stay up with their master. In the gospels you have a group of people who rarely ask the right questions, and when they aren’t asking questions they simply just accept the way things are. This isn’t just Milch giving Christianity the business…it’s all religion, whether that religion is God or television…we’ve become a society of surfers in Milch’s mind. Now the religion metaphor also evolves into a much richer and murkier one as the show progresses. We’ll get into that later, but it’s definitely there, and there’s a quote from the aforementioned lecture that I’ll post on here for the final disc review where Milch tries to explain what the show was all about (and what I hint at in the opening paragraph).
Classic storytelling tropes:
On a different, stylistic note Milch’s tendency to rely on classical storytelling tropes is also in need of mention. Milch is a genius, I don’t think there’s denying that, and as is the case with most people who think and create on a whole different level than the rest of us there is almost always certainly some eccentricity sprinkled in with brilliance. Never has Milch’s eccentric ways been more apparent than with “John from Cincinnati”. Here’s a show that essentially has a Greek chorus (Barry, Dickstein, and Ramon – played by the always great Luis Guzman – often stand outside the motel and narrate the action, filling in the contextual blanks for the audience…proving that Milch isn’t interested in banal expository practices.). The characters can also be frequently seen speaking in soliloquy. Bill often fills in the blanks about the Yost family while he stands in his house and talks to his parakeet. This gives the show that odd charm that Milch was no doubt going for, but it also helps in making the necessary background information somewhat interesting as well as clarifying information for the audience about the community of Imperial Beach that we haven’t been privy to. In “Deadwood” he did the same thing with Swearengen talking to himself – in a sense explaining the action by thinking out loud – from his balcony, and here he not only uses Bill’s character, but Freddie (the drug dealer from Hawaii) too as he is constantly talking to himself, and in one scene (episode 3) – while sitting in his car outside of the hospital listening to the Phantom of the Opera on CD, visibly upset that it’s not the “right” version, in a hilarious moment of juxtaposition – he is describing the crucial action at the hospital and the interaction of certain characters…again he’s acting as a Greek chorus because we can’t hear what he characters are saying, but we have Freddie there to speculate with us.
The show kind of wanders from character to character in the first few episodes. Milch is clearly interested in leaving us in the dark, and I think the effect he is going for here is to try and get us to think of the show in different terms than something we would normally watch. We’ve been trained to watch a show and understand all of the characters and their back story and how they relate to each other within the first handful of episodes. Even if a show doesn’t explicitly lay it all out there for us at least the seeds have been sown. Not so with “John from Cincinnati”. This is a show that isn’t interested in any of the standard storytelling devices. Milch, it seems, almost has no regard for basic character development; rather, we’re thrown into this grungy world to fend for ourselves…in fact I’d say it’s safe to say that the only character we’re supposed to understand is John…because we’re just as much as an alien in regards to trying to figure out what this show is all about.
Meandering and eccentricities aside, the show is fascinating in its opening episodes as it’s clear that Milch wants to focus more of his time on odd goings-on and deeper questions that haven’t quite been fleshed out yet in the first three episodes. One thing is for sure: I’m really looking forward to re-watching the rest of this series. It’s one of the deepest and most peculiar seasons of television I’ve ever seen. Somehow it seems appropriate that such an esoteric and ambiguous show, with its odd mixing of the sacred and the profane, didn’t last past 10 episodes, because any attempt to answer these deep questions Milch broaches would have fallen flat; they would have made the show seem too…ordinary.
I love it when JFC gets mentioned, and in a positive way. there’s been more and more of that lately, taking a second look at this one season series that was thoroughly thrashed by the critics at the time, yet it had such an impact on so many.
Let’s see some of the past comments and reviews, we’ve lost the whole thread of info on the old HBO BB. This review of every episode is condensed and easy to read.
by Tom Gilmore
“Much like the title character in John from Cincinnati, there are some things I know and some things I don’t. For instance, I certainly did not know what was going on throughout the entire first episode and I have no idea what to expect for the future of this series, and yet, for some reason I know that I enjoyed what I saw.
It might have something to do with the fact that I’m drawn to anything having to do with the beach lifestyle. The environment is like a character in itself, and in my opinion movies or TV shows that showcase the surfing lifestyle are even better. Call me crazy, but I actually feel refreshed after watching them. Last night before bed, it was almost as if I had spent the day reclining on a sun-drenched beach instead of watching TV in a house with no air-conditioning. Those waves just do it for me, man!
I have to admit, when I first signed on to blog this show, I didn’t really know what to expect. I first heard it described as a surf noir, but really, what does that tell ya? Let’s break the description down a little bit. It doesn’t really take a whole lot more than a few well-sculpted boards and bodies to be considered part of the surf genre, and the prerequisites for a film noir are pretty cut-and-dry, what with the dark lighting, bleak settings and contemptuous characters. But to mix the two together? I could only picture Keanu Reeves’ Johnny Utah from Point Break shouting “I am an F.B.I agent!” through a billowing cloud of cigar smoke, all the while obscured by shadows in a dark alley.
I guess it’s a little too early to tell how I feel about the show. The awkward John Monad appeared out of nowhere to utter the first words of the episode: “The end is near.” What the heck does that mean? Hopefully for David Milch, the creative force behind earlier hits such as NYPD Blue and Deadwood, they won’t serve as a prediction of the series’ fate.
The rest of John’s dialogue was just as confusing. His endless parroting of other’s words could have been a lot more annoying if not for Austin Nichols’ casual performance. I definitely cracked up when he told Butchie “I’ll bone her” and later on when he challenged Ed O’Neill’s character, Bill, by raising his voice and shouting “No, I have my eye on you!” It should be interesting to see if the writers can maintain good dialogue for such a potentially boring character throughout the rest of the series.
Various weirdness of note throughout the episode:
Mitch’s noncancerous levitation
Zippy the bird’s death and subsequent revival
John’s pockets producing whatever someone happened to ask him for
That lady handing Mrs. Yost something in jail
John and Shaun communicating via foot scribbles
The name John Monad. My immediate impression was that it must have been an anagram for nomad, but then I looked it up in the dictionary and saw that one of its meanings is “a divine spark.” Given what I know so far, that sounds about right. “
Well I’ll start by saying that even though I still don’t fully comprehend what’s happening in this series, I am even more intrigued after watching the second episode, and I’m excited to see where this show goes. I never really got into NYPD Blue or Deadwood, so I can’t pretend to be all that familiar with David Milch’s previous work, but I am completely aware of the respect he deserves for his contributions to television by creating shows that challenge viewers to think. Milch is not known to spoon feed his viewers predictable drivel, and I, for one, wouldn’t bite if he did.
As far as the episode goes, here are my thoughts on round two
Maybe John’s gifts aren’t limited to what comes out of his pockets. Doesn’t it figure that as soon as Mitch relented and allowed Shaun to compete in the surfing competition, Shaun fell off his “stick” and broke his neck? I was very interested by the fact that this happened almost immediately after Freddy slapped John in the face and John asked, “What do you want, Butchie?” Perhaps Shaun’s fall is what Butchie wanted, at least subconsciously. Maybe the thought of his son eclipsing his own fame proved too much for that drug-addled mind of his. Either that or he was worried that Shaun would end up losing everything like he did.
And what were with those mental whispers while John was looking through the telescope on the pier? Butchie asked him why so many weird things were happening as if he knew John were the reason behind them. Perhaps that scene was a prediction of an interaction to come.
If, in fact, John did initiate Shaun’s fall, I don’t think we can really blame Butchie for John’s literal translation of his thoughts. Surely Butchie couldn’t have intended for his son to get hurt. He probably just wanted him to lose the competition. After all, it was only after John asked Butchie what he wanted while they were in the hospital that Shaun’s eyes opened. The fact that Zippy happened to be pecking his lips at the time seems inconsequential to me, even if the bird did come back from the dead just one day earlier. In my opinion it was an intentional misdirection designed to cloud the picture. But what do I know? That’s just my theory. It’s still too early to tell.
Other happenings of note in Episode 2: For some reason Linc wanted Cass to get close to Mitch. Maybe he thinks the bad publicity that would inevitably come from a messy divorce brought about by infidelity would once again shed the limelight on the Yost family and draw attention to his Yost prodigy. Either way, Cass could represent a very sexy encounter for Mitch in the near future. I do have to say, though, Rebecca De Mornay still looks incredible at 46. Mitch would be dumb to stray from the girl who taught Tom Cruise how to be a man in Risky Business.
Butchie has yet to get dope sick. He did prove that he still has a taste for liquor and cardboard cutouts, though.
Eccentric lottery winner and hotel owner Barry Cunningham opened the door to room 24 only to back away in horror. He told Ramon and Meyer that the room is haunted, which means John was right when he said “The dead will come alive in room 24.”
Barry admitted that he often has visions after having a seizure. “Teddy and I had quite the siege.” Ha! Matt Winston brings a lot of humor to the character of Barry. You might recognize him as the pageant emcee in Little Miss Sunshine, in which he played pretty much the same character, only less tormented. Then again, I’ve heard horror stories about those pageants.
John apparently doesn’t go to the bathroom unless he’s mimicking someone else’s behavior. When Butchie begrudgingly allowed John to “dump out” ahead of him in the beginning of the episode, John simply sat on the pot waiting to get an “A-plus for fume control”. I laughed out loud when he shadowed that stranger’s every move in the hospital bathroom, imitating every sound the guy made in the adjoining stall.
Butchie tells Bills he was more of a father to Shaun than he ever was, touching the hearts of millions of viewers who have been faithfully tuning in for two whole weeks.
Day 2 continued.
Instead of dispelling the theory that John might be Jesus or some other heavenly entity, the events in the latest episode seemed to substantiate that possibility. Much to Dr. Smith’s amazement, Shaun was healthy enough to go home with his family, sans Mitch, who took off with Cass after his argument with Cissy. Meanwhile, John recounted Shaun’s recovery to Kai and Linc in his usual cryptic sentences, even though he was with them the whole time and had no way of knowing what happened.
John politely informed Kai several times that he was still planning on boning her. When he announced the same to everybody at the Yost house, and added that he might have to “break her jaw first” for some reason, Butchie told him to make her see God. Kai took him to the surf shop and called his bluff on the boning by inviting him to feel her up, but “t–s don’t ring a bell” with John, so she took him back to her trailer instead.
Once there, it started to look like she might bone him after all, even though she admitted to having misgivings about taking advantage of a slow, hot guy. Surely this is a dilemma most women encounter at least once in their lifetimes, I have to imagine. Anyway, this is when John told Kai to see God, her eyes crept into her head, and the visions began. Add that to the levitation and the reanimation of the dead and I think John has enough miracles under his belt to qualify for sainthood at the very least.
When Kai came to, she said it felt like her piercings were in a furnace while she was under John’s trance. John replied, “See God, Kai,” in a tone that seemed to remind her of the immensity of such an experience. It looked like all of the people she saw in her visions had a similar reaction. At least he didn’t break anyone’s jaw though, right?
– Butchie scoring drugs
– Vietnam Joe clutching his knee as he fell to the ground outside of the Yost house
– Ramon waving his hands at his chest as if it were hot, while Barry gathered a package of what I can only imagine was spilled soup off the ground
– Butchie attempting to shoot up, only to end up clutching his head in severe pain
Butchie later told the doctor his implants got hot. What implants might he be talking about here? Hair implants? Metal plates from a surfing accident? It was mentioned so casually I felt like I should’ve known already. Dr. Smith responded by saying the burning sensations might have been caused by intravenous drug use, but quickly added that he wouldn’t dismiss a more paranormal reason, and cited Shaun’s recovery. Butchie then filled him in about his dad levitating and John’s magical pockets.
I should also mention how Cissy flipped out on Butchie for having the audacity to presume he has the right to give his son permission to skate again so soon after nearly dying. Talk about powerful acting by Rebecca De Mornay! And I thought she had a point when she accused Mitch of thinking of no one but himself. What kind of jerk won’t go see his grandson after a day like that?
There’s a lot happening in this show despite the fact that it’s only the third episode, but there hasn’t been much development as to what John’s purpose is. Just what I need, another mysterious show like Lost! Ah well, I’m already hooked. Besides, next week’s episode looks great. Did I really hear Cissy tell Linc that she needs him? Could that be out of context or what? Also, Mitch levitates in a hotel room he’s sharing with Cass. Again, out of context or are those two going to be doing some God-seeing of their own? Also, John is going to have an altercation with a gang of young ruffians he hitches a ride with. One of them pulls a knife on him, clearly threatened by his autistic nature. I wonder what special power John will rely on this time.
The writers do a good job of cutting the tension with lots of humor. Here are some moments that cracked me up this week:
– Freddy’s anxious rant in the car about cutting the newsman into “50 f—in’ pieces”
– How Freddy unnecessarily broke Palaka’s wrist so he could get inside the hospital to find out how Shaun was doing. At least he had good intentions, right?
– When Barry asked Meyer and Ramon if the cardboard cutouts were animate or inanimate
– Bill and Freddy’s argument outside the Yost home as Palaka savored every second
– When Bill and Freddy teamed up against Barry, Meyer and Ramon by not allowing them to bring the Yosts soup. “I don’t care if you’re bringing a Sikorski helicopter!”
Apparently Mitch had one that changed shape, too… for Cass. Oh yeah, I said it! Linc put her up to bedding Mitch so he would have to move out of his house. Is that so he could move in on Cissy or just because then he wouldn’t have to worry about Mitch standing in his way again? We shall see, I guess. The previews that aired after last week’s episode led me to believe that there would be a little more interaction between Cissy and Linc (for example, her telling him she needed him), but no such luck. I guess we’ll have to wait to see that in a future episode. He did clean her house, though. That Dylan McKay turned into such a nice guy!
Oh yeah, so John got stabbed by a gang member. I guess that deserves mentioning. First off, it amazes me how tough repetition can make a person seem. I have to give credit to the writers, not only for moving this series along at a pretty steady pace, but also for not turning John into the black hole he so easily could have become. With that said, I also admire the actors for their convincing performances. I take back what I said about repetition making a person seem tough. There needs to be a little attitude, too. Austin Nichols had just the right amount in his portrayal of John. He scared the driver but didn’t shed character. Not even when he was getting stabbed in the chest repeatedly. That boy is one tough cholo!
Vietnam Joe just happened to be driving along and stumbled across John lying in the woods after he was left for dead by the van full of rabid street toughs. Yeah right. As if anything on this show just happens. Once Joey got John in the van, John put Joe’s hand on his chest and told him that he could help. By the time they arrived at the hotel, he was in a panic, not only because John’s life-threatening injuries were gone, but because they seemed to remind him of an incident that happened in Vietnam. From what I could gather by what he said, things didn’t turn out so well there. He did seem to calm down a bit, however, when John assured him that “tomorrow is another day.”
Dr. Smith described John’s wound as “healed up with fresh blood.” I wonder if that means he could see a scar. If so, then at least we can scratch Wolverine off the list of things John might be. Shortly after that impromptu diagnosis, the doctor turned with John to look at the hotel as Butchie and Kai were emerging from his room. John told the doctor that he’s in the right place. I wonder if that meant physically, mentally, spiritually or all of the above. I always had such a tough time with multiple-choice questions!
OK, so Cass witnessed Mitch levitate and all of a sudden she’s in on the mysterious vision kick, too? I wonder if there’s a reason why she and Kai are the only two characters to have had visions so far, or if there will be more down the line. I also wonder how many piercings Cass has and where those are located.
When Cass brought John back to her hotel room, Mitch asked him if he needed to stand aside while he passed or if he’d simply part like the Red Sea. Just another biblical reference I felt was worthy of mention. John, however, moved aside. Could that have been Milch’s subtle way of dismissing that theory?
So was that hot blonde in the Mustang Shaun’s mom or what?
Excellent dialogue from the episode:
“May this pain come to Clinton for disgracing the Oval Office,” Bill said after tearing the duct tape he accidentally applied to his lip. The man has a way with words!
“Are you related to the Yosts?” Dr. Smith asked Linc. “Not by blood,” Linc replied. “Maybe you just smell it in the water.”
“Well my testicles are on display to the neighborhood,” Bill said as a way of inviting Butchie and Kai inside his home.
“Is that too overtly gay?” Barry asked Ramon and Meyer after asking them if they would like to become permanently associated.
“My god, you have an erection!” Bill said to Butchie after walking in on him and Kai.
“I wanna bring down the hammer back at your place,” Butchie said to Kai after Bill’s interruption.
“Bill’s not Freddy’s first Bill,” John said to Dr. Smith while watching Bill and Freddy argue. Shortly after, he added that “Freddy’s not Bill’s first Freddy.” Ah, well that explains that!
“I’m here on orders from my bird,” Bill said to Freddy after bringing coffee and donuts as a gesture of good will. Once a cop…
Wow! I’m not exactly sure what to say. That was some weird television! So apparently John can be in more than one place at a time, and apparently he can orchestrate events so that others can travel with him (Bill and Vietnam Joe arriving at the hotel, despite being in the van). Oh, and he can also remove dead people from hotel rooms. The Shining would have played out totally differently had John been around!
OK, consider my brain officially twisted. I know Milch is supposed to be going somewhere with all of this, but I would like for the road map to be a little clearer. Just a little bit. Is that too much to ask? It certainly seems like the religious angle is the one to focus on, though, what with John continuously mentioning his “father” towards the end of the episode, and his ability to heal/help those around him. I have to ask though, did Cissy really molest Butchie? That’s certainly how it sounded to me! Man, these people are even more screwed up than I thought!
I have to say, as murky as the plot has been so far, the dialogue and acting have served as beacons of hope for what this series could become – or, at the very least, rocks to cling to so as not to get dragged too far away by the cloudy waves.
The previews for next week looked good. Milch sure likes casting old teen heartthrobs for some reason. And yes, I understand that Mark-Paul Gosselaar also starred in NYPD Blue, but I will forever remember the guy as Zach Morris from Saved by the Bell. I grew up in the ’90s. What can I say?
Also in the near future, a morose Freddie sits by what looks like Palaka’s deathbed and tells his minion he doesn’t want him to go. Could it be gangrene or might Freddie have simply beaten his lackey a little too badly this time?
Oh yeah, and apparently, according to John, Shaun’s going to be “gone” again. The kid’s already been gone twice, what with the surfing incident and his running away from home – if you can call a trip to the skate park running away from home. Then again, I ran away from home as a kid, and the farthest I got was the front porch. And as long as we’re drawing comparisons, my mom didn’t have anything to do with “Moist Thighs, Pink Bottoms 3.” Ugh! It pains me to even mention those two in the same sentence!
This episode added more intricate designs in the spider web that is John from Cincinnati. I have to say, right now I can’t help but feel a little entangled, but I hope to stand back and admire the beauty when all is said and done. The complexity of the character interaction certainly makes this show fun to watch as the many seemingly unrelated (but definitely related) events keep building toward whatever climax Milch has planned for us.
Here are some things I enjoyed about this episode:
Dwayne mentioned to Butchie that his website had 1,244 hits in the past 24 hours and referred to it as the “halo effect.” Yes, this is a widely used term used to define the carryover popularity between two closely related things (or in this case, people), but I’m guessing it was inserted into the script for obvious reasons. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the HolyZippy? Could be… Could be…
When a very sick Palaka showed up at the surf shop with the lawyer right behind him, I loved how Cissy immediately jumped to the conclusion that the lawyer was an ambulance chaser. Talk about skepticism! If that really were the case, I’d almost have to applaud his tenacity.
I don’t fully comprehend the Linc-Tina relationship. She admitted to Jake that the deal she reached with Linc amounted to 4k per month as long as Shaun remains under contract, but was that part of her wily ruse? Shaun isn’t actually under contract with Stinkweed, as we were reminded during the awkward confrontation between him and Butchie outside the surf shop in the beginning. Also, how come Tina was so loyal to Linc anyway? It didn’t seem money motivated; she genuinely appears to like him. Might there be history between those two that we aren’t aware of at this point? Oh, and as an aside, when Jake was interviewing Tina in the hotel room, I couldn’t help but notice the resemblance between her and Shaun. Those two could definitely be related!
I love when Barry saw Dr. Smith smoking and asked him if all the fuss about smoking was over nothing. Now that I think of it, Barry had a few funny moments in this episode. Matt Winston utilizes his whole body to convey his character. If you blinked, you might have missed the way he pranced timidly about the hotel room like he was afraid he was going to break when the doctor was attending to Palaka.
John once again appeared in multiple places at the same time: Cissy’s, Bill’s, the hotel, Cass’ room (she finally appeared to see the magic), and the ocean with Shaun and Butchie. I noticed a weird moment while Ramon was attempting to play the trumpet and John was easily visible behind him. The camera cut to Dr. Smith for a second, who happened to be looking at Ramon (and consequently John), but when it flashed back to Ramon via Dr. Smith’s point of view, John was nowhere to be seen. Intentional? I have to imagine Milch and company scrutinize every frame to ensure continuity, so I’m going to assume that meant something. Could Dr. Smith even see him at all during his little “visit”?
OK, so Shaun, John and Zippy disappeared, although Shaun’s doppelgänger still found time to scare the living hell out of Barry at the hotel bar. Are his visions of Shaun simply dreams, as he tells Dr. Smith later in the episode, or is that just wishful thinking on his part? Seems to me they could be more accurately categorized as “visions.” Well, I’d actually be more likely to go with psychotic episodes brought on by trauma, but in this show, with this subject matter, I think “visions” works just fine.
I liked the scene when Butchie and Kai shared their thoughts on John, who they both agreed is on some kind of autopilot and simply parrots what he hears from other people because he is programmed to mimic emotions. As they discussed, it would certainly explain why he repeats such idiotic phrasings as “A+ for fume control.” What do they think, though, that the guy is some kind of robot? I guess that could be interesting. I certainly wouldn’t have been expecting that.
The stick figures that represented John and Shaun online, and that so freaked everyone out all of a sudden, appeared on the Avon catalog that Ramon showed Barry and Dr. Smith, but it didn’t really seem like any of them actually noticed the stick-figure graphics. Their reactions seemed to be reserved for some other magic regarding the catalog, but it wasn’t clear what that might be. And yes, they’re all a little too old to be finding such joy in the Avon catalog, naturally. Plus, Barry’s about as gay as can be.
Mitch finally showed up in Imperial Beach, just after recruiting the sage advice of his favorite chemist, who interestingly enough was played by Howard Hesseman, the star of WKRP in Cincinnati. Clearly, David Milch has a sense of humor, however subtly it may present itself. Get it? John from Cincinnati WKRP in Cincinnatiwell, I thought it was funny, anyway.
Oh, and after Cissy told Butchie to find a way to screw himself on the way to the ocean (in much more colorful dialogue, of course), the look on his face told me he was about to ask her, in as sarcastic a tone as he could muster, to help him out, considering she did exactly that when he was a teenager and she was completely out of her gourd on acid. Anyone else expecting that?
It’s getting near the end. John from Cincinnati will soon be gone, be it until next season or forever, depending on whether or not HBO sees fit to grant the series more airplay. Will Freddie’s prayers be answered? Is Shaunie going to be OK? Will Mitch and Cissy work out their differences? Will we ever find out if John is Jesus, an alien, a robot, etc.???
Well, there goes the first season. And just when I thought that John was Jesus, the writers went ahead and threw in a bunch of hints to make me think he might actually be an alien. “You’re all going to be toast,” he told Linc. “We’re coming 9/11/14.” Could it just be a coincidence that their arrival is scheduled take place on the anniversary of the attacks on America? Then again, could those numbers actually represent the bible passage 9:11-14 that describes salvation through the Lord? There are just so many ways this could go!
I’m interested in finding out more about this Cincinnati place that John took Shaunie to, and why Shaunie couldn’t recall much of his visit other than the fact that they, whoever they are, want to sponsor him. And even if they are aliens or simply the all-powerful celestial beings that occupy heaven, what exactly do they find so useful about the Yost family? If their true goal is to redeem mankind, then perhaps these alien gods are of the mind-set that the Yost family would serve as the best example to the rest of the world of just how redeeming they can be. But there is still that whole “you’re all going to be toast” thing to consider.
What exactly did Dwayne and Jerri see on the live streaming video on Butchie’s website? Their reactions caused me to believe that there was more than met the eye. Did they hear John’s father’s voice? I wonder if he sounds like Barry White.
I thought it was great how Freddie is this big, tough drug-runner, but he had to send Palaka over with an opening line to disguise his ulterior motive of finding out what Barry and Ramon would be wearing to the parade. Palaka’s the perfect lackey for the job, too. To paraphrase: “Blah blah blah blah blah blah. Look at the bears. That’s right. You wearin’ that to the parade?”
The scene at the car lot was interesting. What did it mean when the salesman told John, or “Country,” as he referred to him, that he was taking him offline? Could he be part of John’s people? His speech was almost as murky as John’s, and he even referred to the Cissy and Butchie incident, which I didn’t think was common knowledge.
What was that ending about when Dr. Smith showed up 20 years younger from Cincinnati and Cissy apparently got pregnant? I bet Stephen Hawking would know, but I have about as much an idea of what is going on as Bill Jacks does of social relations. I did enjoy seeing Kai tear it up on her board, though. The girl’s got some skills!
Anyway, that concludes the first season of the show, and also my blog. Thanks for reading, everybody! I hope you enjoyed my weekly musings.”