Bright Lights Film Journal

Headzup – JFC Rules

After having seen only four episodes, I’m ready to call HBO’s John from Cincinnati one of the greatest television series ever. Twin Peaks great. Deadwood great.

In fact, it has the same creator/auteur as Deadwood, David Milch. Deadwood was a 19th-century Western about a McCabe and Mrs. Miller-esque mining community. John from Cincinnati is about a Southern California surfing community and takes place in the here and now. Its pivotal character, referred to by someone in the show as “the joker in the deck,” is the titular John, a holy fool who has a supernatural effect on everyone around him. Try imagining a surfing version of Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. The tone of the show and its concern with community as opposed to and complemented by the eccentricity of individuals inevitably reminds one of Deadwood – but this show is funnier, less concerned with violence, more concerned with metaphysics. Like Deadwood, like Lost, like Twin Peaks, it has a terrific ensemble cast. The presence of the underused Rebecca De Mornay, alone, is enough to make the show worth watching.

You want a detailed episode-by-episode analysis? Check out The House Next Door. Speaking for myself, I don’t know where the show is going, and I don’t know if its quality will last. What I do know is that watching it makes me strangely, inexplicably happy.