Thursday, June 14, 2007

Some Thoughts on John (from Cincinnati)

Maybe it was the wrong time ... I saw the first episode just a few hours after that sudden cut to black at the end of The Sopranos, and my mind was still reeling from shock (in a good way, and it still is)...

So maybe that wasn't the best time to see the premiere of a brand new series, which promised to be highly original and edgy....

Everything in the package seemed to be right. I love Rebecca De Mornay. Bruce Greenwood never disappoints. I'm also a big Beach Boys fan - they're easily in my top 5 favorite groups - and of course I'm not only an avid watcher and reader of the fantastic in fantasy and science fiction, but I write the stuff.

Indeed, I've never met a science fiction story I wasn't prepared to be crazy about, and though I don't feel quite the same about fantasy and supernatural themes, I'm pretty easy to please on those scores, too.

And the premiere of John from Cincinnati did not.

It seemed a lot of talk about almost nothing. The payoff at the end - that Greenwood's character knows he is really levitating - was way too little to support an entire episode.

Now, I'm actually very modest (a rarity for me) in my initial judgments about greatness in popular culture. I remember when I heard the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper for the very first time in June 1967 - I was hoping for more Rubber Soul and Revolver, and thought that the Beatles had gone off the deep end. But I stepped back and said, look, if I'm not liking an album by the Beatles, maybe it's me and not the Beatles who are off-key. I gave the Beatles the presumption of genius, listened a few more times, started to love "A Little Help from my Friends," and then "Lucy in the Sky," and pretty soon I thought Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was the masterpiece it is. (I wrote an essay called "Sgt. Pepper and the Presumption of Genius" about this back in the 1980s ... it's on another computer ... I'll see if I can post it here in the next few days.)

Well, much as I admire David Milch and his great work in television - beginning with Hill Street Blues - I'm not quite willing to give him and John from Cincinnati the presumption of genius I gave to Sgt. Pepper.

But I will at least watch the next episode, and report back here soon...

See also reviews of other episodes Episode Two ... Episode Three ... Episode Four ... Episode 5 ... Episode 6 ... Episode 7 ... Episode 8 ... Episode 9 ... Episode 10

See also John from Cincinnati: The Meaning in a Sentence or Two

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