Tuesday, August 14, 2007

John From Cincinnati Concludes...and Milch Speaks!

Variety's Cynthia Littleton had a chance to chat with creator David Milch about John From Cincinnati and specifically the first season finale...here's some snippets:
We talked a lot about how at its core "JFC" has a hopeful message of salvation and even redemption. It may have seemed gritty on the surface -- you can just smell the fetid-ness of Butchie's motel room, a credit to the show's set designers/decorators -- but it's a tale of the power of community, faith and the ability of even the most seemingly hopeful characters to find something to hang on to as they claw their way back.

Milch set out to challenge the conventions of TV storytelling with "JFC," even more so than he did on his last HBO series, "Deadwood," and in so doing he knew it would not be an easy sell in the climate of the smallscreen today. For sure, there was linear storytelling in "JFC" -- the saga of the Yost clan and their supporting troupe had a beginning, middle and climax in last night's finale, episode 10 -- but within each scene and within each character, there was no convention of having beat A lead neatly to beat B and then beat C and then the next act. Oh no, no, no. This is the hand of Milch, a guy who's thought a lot about the "tactics of fictive argument, generally." To wit, he explained, sounding very much like the Yale university lit lecturer that he once was in a previous life:

"My understanding of the way the mechanism of storytelling works is ...whether or not the audience is conscious of the process, apart from the audience awareness that there is a process, any story is constantly appending specific values to the meanings of words, and of the actions of characters. And the fact that story uses as its building blocks words or characters that the audience believes it has some prior recognition or understanding of, is really simply the beginning of the story, but not its end.

For example, to take a less controversial instance of stuff that I've worked on before: ("NYPD Blue" protagonist Andy) Sipowicz. We know him in the first episode (of "Blue") to be a racist, alcoholic. A slob and a fat bastard. Over the course of time, we come to attach different associations to him, based on our experiences....I think that's the case at every level of storytelling. Not just in terms of character but literally with every word, every sound that's made in a story."

He goes on and on...I'm still trying to find an interpreter.

JFC's done I think. And although I enjoyed the experience, that's all that it was...an experience.

Moving on.

UPDATE: Hollywood Reporter makes it official. JFC dunso.

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