If Sparky from Cincinnati could get fired at the end of a season, why not John?
Following something of a marketing blitz, John From Cincinnati premiered on HBO on June 10 following the series finale of The Sopranos. But with 11.9 million Sopranos watchers as its leadin, JFC drew only 3.4 million for its premiere.
Even more foreboding, its second episode last Sunday took in 1.2 million viewers 10 percent of the Sopranos finale audience. By comparison, Flight of the Conchords, which got next-to-no promotion, drew the same 1.2 million viewers for its Sunday series premiere.
Now, that figure is not out of line with typical HBO audiences. Constantly hyped Entourage on Sunday got 2.2 million viewers, and Big Love, now the network's drama mainstay, also drew 2.2 million Monday.
However, the half-hour musical-comedy Conchords is the kind of show that can pick up word-of-mouth steam as it goes on. Given that JFC is a show that will have trouble attracting new viewers even the easiest-to-follow serials fight audience resistance if they've missed the premiere that show's longterm prospects look grim.
HBO would never cancel JFC midway through its season, but we're possibly in a Studio 60 situation here, where incentives to renew JFC for a second wave probably boil down to not pissing off revered creator David Milch or his most devoted fans. Either that, or he's going to have to come up with an episode that absolutely commands people's attention, like the season finale of Lost.