Tuesday, August 07, 2007

John From Cincinnati...The End Is Nigh

...it's big and huge with lots of stick man figures...

The ninth of ten episodes aired this past Sunday --- and I say the end is imminent because I don't see John From Cincinnati getting renewed. It's not that kind of 'series' --- more of a long movie or miniseries. It's intriguing and entertaining viewing to be sure, but I am now of the opin that JFC's not very good TV (though one could argue 'It's not TV, it's HBO').

TV and TV series are built on formula, convention, consistency, coherency, meeting expectations and providing resolutions. That's not to say there can't be exceptions to the rule, but we generally want our shows clearly explained, and neatly tied up. John From Cincinnati does none of those things...which is okay, if in a limited format.

Problem is, JFC wasn't designed to be a limited series. If it does get cancelled after this weekend, will we get some closure? Or just be left hanging. No idea.

Nevertheless, JFC still reminds me of Twin Peaks (shortish run, quirky characters, unique 'place', spirographing mystery), but the more I mull it also reminds me a little bit of the six part limited series Angels in America...a show that was about AIDS but wasn't about AIDS at all.

JFC is about a mysterious stranger (alien? angel? schizophrenic?) arrives to a small surfing community and through a series of small 'miracles' seems to be a catalyst for change in the local characters. On one site it was described as a sci-surfamedy. Another called it a sci-fi drama. At any rate, there's a underlying sense of something quietly supernatural or otherworldly at work.

But Surf Whisperer or Medium Wave it's not.

While there is the ongoing conundrum of 'John' (and that's part of the appeal...trying to decipher the scenes and the dialogue in order to unravel that mystery), at it's core JFC seems to be about the importance of community while acknowledging the necessity for individuals to change when most would prefer things stay as they are.

Furthermore, like from whence 'Angels' came, JFC also feels like theatre...the way it's written, staged, performed...a metaphorical morality play driven by concepts and themes that almost seems more suited for the stage and the safety of the Proscenium Arch. There it can be observed from one angle, not from all sides --- and interpreted as well as enjoyed, because of audience expectations in the theatre. JFC's on television, however...where audience expectations are different, and the lens can show everything. But while creator David Milch might let the camera roam, he refuses to let you see everything.

Who is John? Where is Shaun? Who or what is John's father? What does it all mean??!!

So while we viewers search for answers, one person appears with an unusual message; a different way of thinking, like nothing that any of us viewers are used to. No, I don't mean John...but Milch. He's conducting a little experiment in story-telling, and we're the guinea pigs.

Will we get answers to all of our questions this Sunday evening? Will I get the 'ending' or closure I'm looking for?

Well, if we are to take the creator at his word...

"The important point that I'm trying to make is that storytelling has nothing, whatsoever, to do with logic. Logic is a limping stepchild of the true processes of the spirit. It's an illusion. It's a defective little parlor trick. Associations are the way that we perceive. Electrical connections caused by the juxtapositions of experience. That's the way we are really built, and storytelling takes into account that truth." - David Milch

...I highly doubt it.

P.S. Lots of good discussion about the show HERE, but nobody has any answers. Just lots more theories and questions. Go. Melt your brain.


Anonymous said...

I hope it keeps going, Butchie cause I got my eye on you...

David Bishop said...

Argh. John From Cincinnati is like watching the world's most obtuse glacier. Is it moving? Shrinking? Who knows? Gahhhhh.

Good Dog said...

Having having a read about, it's beginning to look like, like Deadwood before it, John is about forming a community. Of course by next week that may all change and it turns into something totally difference.

Still a great show.

Intuitive Pessimist said...

Thick syntax, finding redemption through community and soft-hearted bullies all echo Milch's Deadwood, but JFC is about Jesus (John), God ("My Father"), the Holy Spirit (the parakeet), the Bible ("My Father's words"), Mary Magdalen (the porn mom), etc. That John and Sean (Irish for John)both come out of the water, that Cissy always wears blue, that this family is all about the water, all of these devices lead us to our human origins-in the sea. Technology, crime, and business all the trappings of modern life, but do they hide meaning or reveal it?

bedwars said...

Intuitive pessimist really hit the nail on the head.
The series had a closure on the most part or could reappear unexpectedly like The Wire has.

bedwars said...

Intuitive pessimist:

Thanx for your guidance.

What is the acronym for John From Cincinnati?