alibi online
Weekly Alibi PodcastFree Will AstrologyAlibi's Personals
 V.16 No.25 | June 21 - 27, 2007 

Idiot Box

Surf or Die

“John from Cincinnati” on HBO

Have you ever liked something simply because you were so confused by it that you felt like not liking it would expose you as a dumb person? “John from Cincinnati” isn’t quite like that. But it might as well be. I’ve reserved judgment on the new Sunday night HBO drama for at least the first couple episodes, trying to get a handle on it. I’m fairly confident now that I won’t ever get a sold grip on this thing. But I’m thinking I might like it. Even if I’m not quite sure why.

The show is the latest brainchild from creator David Milch, who gave us the rawboned Western series “Deadwood.” “John from Cincinnati” isn’t anything like “Deadwood.” It isn’t anything like anything else, really. I suppose you could call it Blue Crush crossed with “Twin Peaks.” That still wouldn’t be a very accurate description, but it’s about as close as you’re gonna get.

The plot of “John from Cincinnati” isn’t all that hard to suss out. It concentrates on three generations of a Southern California surfing dynasty. Mitch Yost (Bruce Greenwood, Thirteen Days) is a sports legend, embittered and full of self-loathing in the wake of a career-ending knee injury. His son, Butchie Yost (Brian Van Holt, “Threshold”), is doing his best to carry on dad’s legacy—the bad one—throwing his life away on drugs and self-destructive behavior. Butchie’s young son Shaun (newbie Grayson Fletcher), however, is a nice, quiet kid with an innocent love for the sport of surfing. He’s also, barely in his teens, on the verge of turning pro—something dad and granddad are terrified of.

Surrounding this dysfunctional trio is an odd cast of characters including Rebecca De Mornay (in a fierce comeback) as Mitch’s estranged wife, Ed O’Neill (“Married ... With Children”) as a bird-collecting ex-cop and Austin Nichols (“Surface”) as a mysterious naif named John (he of the title) who wanders into the scene oblivious of ... well, pretty much everything. Like Peter Sellers in Being There, John only seems capable of repeating what others around him say and do. He is, however, blessed with the ability to pull whatever he wants from his pockets, and on the few occasions he does spout original dialogue, it is full of apocalyptic portent. (“The end is near,” being a favorite.)

And then, of course, there are the random miracles floating around (literally in some cases). Mitch seems to have the random ability to levitate, and Shaun is at the center of several life-and-death impossibilities. What are we, exactly, to make of this? At this point it’s hard to guess.

Milch has infused “John from Cincinnati” with a gritty, unglamorous realism that depicts the surfing world in perhaps its most realistic fictional light. On the other hand, he’s surrounded that with an inscrutable layer of biblical/mystical/New Age strangeness that may or may not be leading anywhere profound. Still, until it drowns or takes me to shore, I’m willing to ride this summer wave.

“John from Cincinnati” airs every Sunday at 10 p.m. on HBO.



La lengua de las mariposas/Butterfly at National Hispanic Cultural Center

A timid young bot from a small Spanish town deals with the tragedies of a civil war while growing up.

Mother Road Movies: Grapes of Wrath at KiMo Theatre


Captain America: The Winter Soldier at South Broadway Cultural Center

More Recommended Events ››
Join our mailing list for exclusive info, the week's events and free stuff!

  • Select sidebar boxes to add below. You can also click and drag to rearrange the boxes; close using the little X icons on each box. To re-add a box you closed, return to this menu.
  • Because you are not logged in, any changes you make to these boxes will vanish as soon as you click to another page. If you log in, the boxes will stick.
  • Latest Posts
  • Web Exclusives
  • Recent Rocksquawk Discussions
  • Recent Classifieds
  • Latest User Posts
  • Most Active Users
  • Most Active Stories
  • Calendar Comments
  • Upcoming Alibi Picks
  • Albuquerque
  • Duke City Fix
  • Albuquerque Beer Scene
  • What's Wrong With This Picture?
  • Reddit Albuquerque
  • ABQ Journal Metro
  • ABQrising
  • ABQ Journal Latest News
  • Albuquerque
  • NM and the West
  • New Mexico FBIHOP
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • Only in New Mexico
  • Mario Burgos
  • Democracy for New Mexico
  • High Country News
  • El Grito
  • NM Politics with Joe Monahan
  • Stephen W. Terrell's Web Log
  • The Net Is Vast and Infinite
  • Slashdot
  • Freedom to Tinker
  • Is there a feed that should be on this list? Tell us about it.
    TroyBoi Live
    TroyBoi Live6.11.2016