"At best, John from Cincinnati
John From Cincinnatiís Jean-Luc Godard-like working methods lend the show an exhilarating spontaneity and sense of possibility. Itís quite literally a show where anything can happen. At worst, it feels clumsily put-together on the spot by actors groping to comprehend a master plan even a super-genius like [David] Milch doesnít seem to understand."
was a drama, set against the surfing community of Imperial Beach, California
, that aired on HBO
from June 10 to August 12, 2007. It is the result of a collaborative effort between writer/producer David Milch
and author Kem Nunn, whose novels have been termed surf noir.
The program deals with John Monad, a strange young man of mysterious origin
, and the effect he has on a dysfunctional family
of professional surfers and their community. The show got panned by critics and started losing viewers right away. It was eventually cancelled after one season. The reason was partly that it did not compare favorably to the more popular Deadwood
and partly because of its Audience-Alienating Premise
Tropes from Cincinnati:
- Ambiguous Disorder: John seems to be challenged or autistic in some way, but of course it's hard to tell since he probably isn't human...
- Arc Words: "The End Is Near".
- Arc Symbol: The stick figure.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The Yosts.
- Catch Phrase: "Some things I know, some things I don't," replaced by, "I don't know. Butchie instead."
- Fantastic Noir: Fantastic Surf Noir.
- Fun with Acronyms: The title of the show John From Cincinnati is abbreviated as JFC or Jesus Fucking Christ
- Genre-Busting: The show is by turns a family drama, surf noir, and religious allegory.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The episodes are titled "His Visit, Day One", "His Visit, Day Two", etc. It breaks the pattern with the third episode, which is "Day Two Continued"; the 10th and final episode is "Day Nine".
- Magical Realism/Urban Fantasy: The film takes place mostly in the "real world," but with supernatural elements, such as spontaneous levitation and John's seemingly magical powers.
- Messianic Archetype: John.
- Mind Screw
- No Ending: The show was canceled without any resolution.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: As with Milch's other works, characters speak in dense, almost impenetrable language, which worked in a period piece like Deadwood, but seems strange coming from a bunch of modern surfers.
- Speaks in Shout-Outs: John communicates almost entirely by repeating phrases that other characters had already said.
- Surfer Dude: Naturally, given the setting.
- Trouser Space: John's pockets seem to contain whatever small item he needs at the moment without ever being refilled.
- Weirdness Magnet: The Yost family, Lampshaded more than once.