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Surf's Down on HBO
2007-06-21 08:04
by Jon Weisman

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.

2007-06-21 10:25:32
1.   ToyCannon
To bad about the rating, we watched the 1st two episodes on HBO demand after my wife implored me to give it a shot after she heard good things. It sucked me in fairly quickly. Loved seeing some Deadwood favorites show up on the 2nd episode. The John character kind of reminds me of Valentine Michael Smith from "Stranger in a Strange Land" in his innocence. So far the connection between John and Boochie are what cements the show for me. I could really do without the whole hovering and miracle of life and death plotlines and just focus on this great family and characters and how John interacts with them. Of course Valentine did a few miracles in his day so I'm just being picky. If I can't watch Deadword this is a decent substitute.
2007-06-21 11:38:24
2.   Marty
I agree with everything ToyCannon says, except his way to spell Butchie's name.
2007-06-21 12:20:52
3.   Bob Timmermann
Again, I really liked JFC. Although I'm not sure why. The dialog is not hard to follow and not as difficult to follow as "Deadwood", which I really loved.

I guess it's just like the show. I don't know what it's about, but I like it.

What I'd really like to know is how competitive surfing is scored.

2007-06-21 15:10:06
4.   ToyCannon
Boochie sounds much more like an alienated surfers name then Butchie which sounds like an aliented Marines name.
2007-06-21 15:14:47
5.   ToyCannon
Don't know how surfing is scored but I do know that surfers score more regularly then landlubbers. Given how I was raised here, love the ocean, love girls in bikinies, had complete disdain for authority, I'm still at a loss how I didn't become one.
2007-06-21 15:40:20
6.   Linkmeister
Surfing has judges, like figure skating.

One difference: I never hear any controversy about scoring in surfing, even with all the tournaments we have here.

2007-06-21 15:44:21
7.   Hallux Valgus
Even more than word of mouth, Cocnchords has the benefit of "word of youtube." My friends keep annoying the hell out of me with youtube links for the same comedy musical duo I was trying to tell them about 6 motnhs ago.
2007-06-21 15:50:42
8.   Marty
Booch is how the taxi driver in Pulp Fiction pronounced it.
2007-06-21 15:51:42
9.   Jon Weisman
The Office has a syndication home.

2007-06-21 17:20:11
10.   Mark T.R. Donohue
I for one love "John from Cincinnati," it's become the summer replacement for "Heroes" as the program I spend hours online arguing about in instant messages with my nerd friends from high school. The show is so on-its-face ambitious that you're almost forced to remain in a heightened sense of awareness for its whole running time lest you miss some tiny significant detail. The characters also have that "Deadwood" way about them, they are so clearly drawn that you can see their entire arc telescoping backwards and forwards from each dialogue scene. At the moment I'm quite taken with the surf-shop girl, Kai, and particularly her somewhat patronizing if well-meaning interactions with John in the second episode. From just the actress's facial expressions in her scenes with Mitch, Butchie, and Shaun you can detect a caretaker streak in her personality which is a very interesting wrinkle for a laid-back surf chick. You can also see the whole path of a romantic relationship with Butchie which they've hinted at for future episodes laid out right there in just a couple of eye movements. I am fascinated at the gothic structure, again reminiscent of "Deadwood," of a show where the characters argue and talk and talk and argue endlessly in the face of the completely inevitable... it's Milchian, is what it is. But unlike "Deadwood" I think this show could probably stand on its own as an artistic work with only one season, if that's the way the ball bounces. We were warned right at the top of the pilot that the end was near.

But as for what Jon was saying about the laudable "Flight of the Conchords," it's too true. I have been recommending "Flight" to almost everyone to whom I've spoken this week, but I can't imagine recommending "John from Cincinnati" to anyone, it's more responsibility than I am willing to take.

2007-06-21 18:07:24
11.   Jon Weisman
Two hours of Office on tonight.
2007-06-21 19:26:40
12.   Bluebleeder87
after watching the making of JFC i'm gonna give it a reall look, i really like the premise.
2007-06-25 14:03:36
13.   GobiasIndustries
My wife and I are completely hooked on JFC. We can't seem to get enough even though we don't REALLY know what the heck is going on. I love the fact that the Deadwood spirit and some Deadwood actors are in the mix too. Deadwood was far and away one of the best shows around. As for the dialouge comparison from Deadwood to JFC, there are similarities. I seem to remember an interview with David Milch where he said that the every episode of Deadwood was written in Iambic pentameter. Well JFC doesn't use that same format, it is apparent that some of the characters dialouge
is written in the same style.

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