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Archive for the ‘John From Cincinnati’ Category

John From Cincinnati – Episode 10 (“His Visit: Day Nine”)

Posted by g3tech on August 13, 2007

So there was this multi-part documentary series that aired about the American Musical on PBS a while back. And there was this one segment that stuck with me, about Hal Prince recalling when Andrew Lloyd Webber approached him about directing Cats. And Prince listens to his spiel and says something along the lines of “Andrew, is there something I don’t get? Is this about Queen Victoria, and she’s the main cat, and Disraeli and Gladstone are the other cats, and there are poor cats, and am I missing this?” And Andrew Lloyd Webber looks at him and says, “Hal, it’s about cats.”

I bring this up because I just spent 10 weeks watching John From Cincinnati, listening as David Milch has gone through his spiel and built his story about an other-worldly messenger delivering some divinely inspired gospel to an unlikely recipient. And after all nine weeks of buildup, I’ve watched the final episode, and the only thing I can conclude is: God’s message is apparently suggestions for a new branding campaign for Stinkweed. I mean, I’m sure there’s probably more to it then that, and I’m just not getting it, but I’m also fairly certain that that — the “not getting” it part — doesn’t rest entirely on my shoulders.

Anyhow…Shaun and John return, surfing in on a wave. Where have they been? “Cincinnati,” Shaun says, though he’s pointing up to the sky when he says it, which means that either the kid either really sucks at geography or he had some celestial experience. Butchie whisks Shaun off to see Mitch and Cissy, while John and Linc have a heart-to-heart about what the hell this is all about. I’m not sure Linc understands things any better than I do after John’s explanations, but he does latch onto the bright idea to adopt the stick-figure symbol for a new line of Stinkweed clothing and hold a parade, featuring the Yosts, to deliver God’s message of love and community and competitively priced surfing accessories.

And what of the Yosts? Well, Mitch levitates again, this time in front of Cissy, and everyone spends most of the episode gawking at him. Finally, Butchie and Shaun help him down, and it’s nice to see that family put together again. Cissy even smarts off to some mouth-breathing pervert who says something ungallant to Tina. That was unexpected.

Wrapping up other loose threads: Cunningham no longer feels ashamed of who he is. Freddy is out of the direct-to-market pharmaceutical business. Dickstein gets his hummer from a suddenly friendly Jennifer Grey. Bill finally ventures to the upper room of his house to wrestle with his own demons, whereupon Zippy returns to him. And John delivers another monologue about Dr. Smith returning from Cincinnati twenty years younger and Cissy getting pregnant, which is either an epilogue or a preview of Season Two. Or maybe it’s just about cats.


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John From Cincinnati – Episode 9 (“His Visit: Day Eight”)

Posted by g3tech on August 10, 2007

The Big News: Shaun is totally missing. We should have listened to that nonsense-spewing weirdo when we had the chance.

So yeah, Cissy goes into Shaun’s bedroom one morning, and while his wetsuit and skateboard and juggling balls are there, he is most definitely not. As you can expect, Cissy freaks right the hell out. As you might not expect, everyone leaps into action — Butchie confronts Cass about John’s whereabouts and slugs Linc and winds up believing that wherever Shaun and John have gone off to, they’re going to return no worse for wear. Linc makes noises about hiring a private investigator and comforts Tina, who has concluded that, somehow, this is all her fault. Dickstein composes a response to Shaun’s abductors. Ramon cooks many, many hot dogs. Dr. Smith comforts a very unhinged Cunningham. Freddy prays to God, though honestly, it sounds more like a threat. Vietnam Joe enlists the help of his VFW buddies to comb the neighborhood looking for Shaun. Bill looks up his old friend Anderson from the police force, who proves surprising receptive to helping Bill out. Everyone deciphers the stick figure messages that start appearing in Avon catalogs and on the wall of the Snug Harbor bar.

The Unfortunate News: Zippy also disappears. Oh Zippy — would that it were any one of a number of characters other than you. Daphne. Dwayne. Mitch. Yes — Mitch. I would definitely be OK with Mitch’s disappearance.

The Really Unfortunate News: Mitch comes back from Mexico and he brings the guy who used to play Dr. Johnny Fever with him. Cissy is as delighted to see him as you would expect — i.e., not very — though Mitch does overcome his astounding self-absorption to aid in the Shaun recovery efforts.

The Unexpected News: I…uh…kinda liked this episode. I know, I know — I’m as unsettled by this as the rest of you.

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John From Cincinnati – Episode 6 (“His Visit: Day Five”)

Posted by g3tech on July 16, 2007

So things begin routinely enough with Cissy spewing venom about Tina — ah, normalcy! Unfortunately, Shaun overhears this put-down of his birth mother and storms out. leaving Cissy so dismayed that she turns to Butchie for help. In short order, Butchie convinces Tina to return to Imperial Beach, importunes upon Kai to fetch Shaun, and convinces Cissy to invite Tina over for lunch. “Young Henry Kissinger,” Cunningham snorts among all this back-and-forth negotiation, but I think he’s selling Butchie short. Henry Kissinger just had to formalize the Paris Peace Accords — Butchie manages to bring Tina and Cissy together with the only casualties being a couple of cans of tuna fish.

Speaking of bringing people together, John unites Vietnam Joe and Bill in a group outing to track down the guy that stabbed John a few episodes ago. Or so he would have his believe. Because midway through this stakeout of the Mexican border, John passes out…

…and magically appears in front of Cissy, who is thinking about offing herself. Over Shaun’s snit fit earlier? Perhaps. Or maybe because she apparently molested Butchie in an acid-fueled haze, lo these many years ago. To which I say “yuck,” and may I just add “ewwwww.” So Cissy doesn’t shoot herself, nor does she gun down John.

Ah, but John’s not done appearing in front of people. He visits Cass in her hotel room to ask to borrow her camera. He appears before Linc to tell him to get back into the game. And both Linc and Cass appear at the Sung Harbor where everyone — Dickstein, Ramon, Cunningham, Butchie, even Palaka — is sprucing the place up for the grand re-opening. And then John appears to deliver some sort of freaky-deaky Sermon on the Mount in which — despite the fact that I am a proficient English-speaker — only two out of every five words makes any sort of sense. Oh, and Freddy plays the saxophone and Bill –yes, Bill appears there magically, too — plays the harmonica.

And after all this, John goes back to waiting with Vietnam Joe and Bill back at the border. “Well, this was time well spent,” Vietnam Joe says flatly. Hey, he said it, I didn’t.

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John From Cincinnati – Episode 5 (“His Visit: Day Four”)

Posted by g3tech on July 9, 2007

You ever hear the old adage about how if you show the audience the gun in act one, you better have it go off in act three? Well, David Milch apparently hasn’t. Or he scoffs at your long-held notions of narrative. Because he shows guns aplenty in this episode, and the only one that goes off is the one Kai fires into her CD player, even though it can’t stop “In Your Eyes” from playing out of it. Because you cannot kill Peter Gabriel.

So the first gun is pulled by Vietnam Joe, who waves it in direction of the VFW Hall bartender he presumes put John up to last week’s stunt with the stabbing and the not dying and the miraculously healing. But the bartender did not put John up to that stunt, which makes Joe think that there may be something a might bit other-worldly about our mysterious visitor from the Buckeye State.

The other gun belongs to Cissy, and she produces it to ward off Shaun’s mom, who was that thin, blonde-haired woman who showed up at the end of last week’s episode. Shaun’s mom is a porn star, you see, and she left Shaun on Cissy’s doorstep before hightailing it off to the San Fernando Valley — this has left Cissy understandably perturbed, so she spends most of the episode setting a new record for most screaming by a series regular in an hour-long show, eclipsing the standard set by Amy Brenneman in the second episode of Judging Amy. It is possible that I just made that record up.

Shaun’s Mom the Porn Star just wants to clap eyes on her son, and she finds an unlikely ally in Butchie, who convinces his mother that the Porn Star means no harm. Cissy finally agrees to let this mother-and-child reunion take place, though perhaps she was too hoarse from all the shouting to register any dissent. Shaun’s Mom the Porn Star also finds a very likely ally in Linc, who’s in the market for a new Gal Friday now that Cass has taken in John as a boarder.

Speaking of Cass and John, they spend the day in Balboa Park, filming what promises to be the most pretentious, meandering documentary to ever get rejected by IFC. In that sense, Cass’s movie has very in common with this episode, which squanders all the momentum and goodwill of the past few weeks with this plodding, rudderless offering.

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John From Cincinnati – Episode 4 (“His Visit: Day Three”)

Posted by g3tech on July 8, 2007

The episode begins with John out and about and staring at that naval radio station we saw back in Episode 2. But, since he forgets to leave a note, everyone assumes he”s missing. Instead of being relieved at no longer having a grinning oddball repeating everything they”ve said, everyone is quite concerned. Butchie and Kai spend most of the episode looking for him, enlisting Bill”s help. Then, they have sex — Butchie and Kai, I mean. Bill is mercifully left out of that, thankfully, because there are just some things you can”t un-see. Speaking of people having sex, Mitch and Cass totally do it, as part of Linc”s evil plan to…make sure Mitch is too preoccupied with having sex to see Linc sinking his talons into Shaun, I suppose. Linc is shockingly short of specifics. The plan is going great, at least until Cass sees Mitch levitate. Dr. Smith does not have not have sex in this episode. Instead, he begins by quitting his job at the hospital and then spends the rest of his day wandering the earth, like Caine in Kung Fu. His travels take him to the Snug Harbor, where he has some face time with Ramon, and to the Yost house, where he finds Linc doing the dishes — yeah, don”t ask — and back to the Snug Harbor to diagnose Palaka”s wrist and declare that John is A-OK despite all the fresh stab wounds and blood. That”s right, I forgot about John! He has the misfortune to run into four guys who don”t like it when people repeat what they”ve just said — one of them ends up using John as a pin cushion before dumping his body near the border. Fortunately, Vietnam Joe stumbles across John, and even more fortunately, Vietnam Joe is able to heal those wounds with just a touch of his hand per John”s instructions. By the time this show is over, I think every character will have been healed by every other character — my bet for next week is Dickstein in the conservatory with Professor Plum. Our episode ends with Bill opting to spend the evening with Freddy, because Zippy the Bird conveyed to him that the two should be friends. Yeah, you read that correctly. I don”t think we should rule out the possibility that maybe Zippy just wanted him out of the house for some quiet time.

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