Monday, June 11, 2007

John from Cincinnati, HBO, 2007. Season 1, Episode 1: His Visit: Day One

How on earth did this series get a green light? I'd like to thank anyone and everyone involved for letting this daft concept series go forward. Bravo to HBO.

And bravo to a casting genius. Rebecca De Mornay has never been, or looked, so good. Luke Perry has often been relegated to a B-movie level in Purgatory, so here's hoping for the best. Supporting cast of Luis Guzmán, Ed O'Neill and Willie Garson are first rate. But one of the most interesting characters is not a character at all - the blank slate.

A blank slate makes demands that we simply can't overlook or ignore. Nature, and by extension humans, abhors a vacuum. We also abhor, it seems, emptiness. We tend to project, fill in, paint over or contribute when faced with nothing. John is the embodiment of the blank slate: fluid, amorphous, reactive, malleable. Ask him a question and you'll be forced to answer it yourself. Tell him what to do and you'll do it for him. Wrap him with a good ole Southern California aura, mystical or chemical, and you have John. The elegant and perfect foil for a surfing family that's come undone. A family that seems bent on consuming itself.

Austin Nichols as John is a match made with the assist of cannabis, er, one can imagine. Where are the spiritual properties of civilization more pronounced than with the subtle aid of
Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol? Mr. Nichols hadn't caught my attention before John, but it is now undivided. Well, perhaps shared with Michael C. Hall's Dexter over on rival Showtime.

I don't demand instant gratification. If a book's good, I don't look forward to the end and may actually read more slowly to prolong the pleasure. I enjoy questions that are worthy of answers but don't necessarily have their answers at hand. And I don't mind extra-real intrusions in a show, whether TV or theatrical. I may wonder what it all means but rather hope no explanations are forthcoming and I may, like those with John, fill in the blanks myself.

A rating will come with episode 3 but it's off to a terrific start.

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