Last month we mentioned in passing, in the “What’s On” post, that JOHN FROM CINCINNATI had surfaced on both of HBO’s streaming sites. And now that this writer has the time I thought I’d go back and draw further attention to it. The series was only one season long totaling 10 episodes. In short it was about a strange young man of mysterious origin (John of the title) and the effect he had on a dysfunctional family of professional surfers and their community. The series was shot at Imperial Beach, California and featured some real surfing enthusiasts.
There is really nothing wrong with the premise or the twenty-some characters of the work, but the series was not met by happy fans; disappointed fans who possibly shunned the series before it even had a chance. Why? Well, the co-creator of JOHN FROM CINCINNATI was David Milch, who started way back with Hill Street Blues. The series just prior to JOHN FROM CINCINNATI was DEADWOOD starring Ian McShane. That acclaimed show did not end on happy terms. HBO cancelled the series after three seasons because of contract terminations that weren’t renewed timely and then, TV-movies wrapping up the loose ends never materialized. The award-winning DEADWOOD was dead abruptly and fans were disgruntled. Though not fully Milch’s fault, I think he came out as the one to blame.
Milch instead of trying to push for those TV-movies instead developed, alongside Kem Nunn, the surfing series as a follow-up and I don’t think fans were to happy with the result. They might have said, “You gave up DEADWOOD for this?” It also didn’t help according to Wikipedia that it debuted right after the series finale of THE SOPRANOS that year. I remember that now that I saw it mentioned. But, hell, I was too shell-shocked after the fade-to-black on Tony S.’s story to wrap my mind around something else. I believe I sat there with JOHN FROM CINCINNATI on, but had to re-watch it at another time to give it my full attention. Anyway, as the story goes, the day after the tenth episode of John’s tale aired it was cancelled.
The great thing is if you really want to catch it you can on either one of the streaming sites. Binge it if you want to and see just have odd and quirky it really was. Hell, maybe someday I’ll watch it again and file an HBO Classic report with all the episode details as well. Here is a teaser complete with theme song. Have you seen JOHN FROM CINCINNATI?