Third-episode verdict: John from Cincinnati

John From Cincinnati Carusometer2 Partial Imaginary Carusometer

Well, it’s time to pass a third-episode verdict on John from Cincinnati, I reckon. I could hold out until episode five, because everything’s a bit murky still, but I don’t think there’ll be much point: the verdict will be the same.

You see the trouble is, it’s completely mental. Seriously mental. Not since Twin Peaks has there been such a surreal mind-f*ck of a show. Even obviously kooky shows like Northern Exposure can’t hold a candle to the insanity that is John from Cincinnati.

We’ve had hotels haunted by terrifying ghosts that we can’t see. We have drug-dealers who listen to opera. We have people who speak like they’re in Lord of the Rings. We’ve had the kiss of an incontinent parakeet heal the wounded and bring the dead back to life. And, of course, in the first episode, we had levitating surfers.

Then there’s John, around whom all these strange events occur. It’s becoming increasingly clear that John is not from Cincinnati, but is in fact either John (the Baptist) or God Himself. John says the end is near and his pronouncements seem to change reality. He also doesn’t need to go to the toilet. In fact, he doesn’t know how.

You see? Mental.

All these odd events – and sterling dialogue that actors just like to eat up – keep us going through an otherwise not desperately exciting tale of washed out surfers and a dysfunctional family living in California. What the grand design is, I don’t know. I’m hoping there is one, so I’m sticking with it.

Fortunately, the Carusometer knows how to deal with such mental programmes, because it has a hidden z-axis.

The Medium Is Not Enough has great pleasure in declaring John From Cincinnati a 2i or Partial Imaginary Caruso on The Carusometer quality scale. A Partial Imaginary Caruso corresponds to “a show in which David Caruso might cameo as Wayland, the Saxon god of the smithy. Eight feet tall, he will walk through the ancient city of Marrakesh, reading out the instruction manual for a Krups coffee maker in the lost language of the Etruscans. Before him will walk and crawl and fly every manner of bird and beast that dwells upon the face of the Earth, singing the collected works of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The show will be cancelled after a season”.

  • Forget about “The Angels took the police box” for a t-shirt. I’m thinking of getting one that says “I don’t know Butchie instead”.
    It’s perfect for this show – I’m not sure what either one means. My guess is Shaunie’s the Messiah, John is his Herald a la John the Baptist, and the three motel guys are the 3 Magi. I suppose I should count up everybody else and see if we have a quorum for apostles…
    Usually the really off the wall shows lose me straight away. ‘Twin Peaks’ was the last that got the full ride ticket. But there’s just something that keeps drawing me back to this show. I don’t know what exactly, the surfing world is foreign to me, but I’d say your Partial Imaginary Caruso-meter pretty much sums it up!

  • Good post – and good title for a blog, too (McLuhan would’ve like it, too…)
    Regarding John from Cincinnati – it’s a strange show, indeed. I’m liking it a little more with each episode. So far, though, what I like most is that the show’s such fun to write about … John from Cincinnati – Episode 3
    Back to your blog title – I like it so much, I’m going to include it in my Infinite Regress list of TV blogs…

  • Rob Buckley

    Why thanks!

  • John

    [it’s not in the Sun so it can’t be true] The Music is great too:
    1. “Johnny Appleseed” – Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros – Main title/theme song
    2. “The Perfect Ending” – Harriet Street
    3. “Goin’ Up The Country” – Canned Heat – Episode 101: Vietnam Joe in van
    4. “Sun/Rise/Light/Flies” – Kasabian – Episode 101: Closing credits
    5. “Tic” – Kava Kava – Episode 102: Shaun prepares for competition
    6. “Staring at the Sun” – TV On The Radio – Episode 102: Closing credits
    7. “Time To Say Goodbye” – Sarah Brightman – Episode 103: Freddie in his car outside the hospital
    8. “You Light Up My Life” – Debby Boone – Episode 103: Barry recalls what happened in Room 24
    9. “Boogie Chillen” – Buddy Guy – Episode 103: John says “See God Kai” and trippy montage ensues
    10. “Feeling Good” – Muse – Episode 103: Closing credits, Shaun on halfpipe after Dr. Smith says “I’m so…happy!”
    11. “Unisono” – Control Machete – Episode 104: John gets in the van before ‘the stare-down’
    12. “Un Di Felice, Eterea” – David Byrne – Episode 104: Vietnam Joe finds John, John signals Cass
    13. “In Your Eyes” – Peter Gabriel – Episode 104: Kai reminds Butchie of their Jr Prom
    14. “Over, Under, Sideways, Down” – The Yardbirds – Episode 104: Closing credits
    15. “Tonights The Night” – The Shirelles – Episode 105: Butchie and Tina in diner
    16. “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” – Elvis Costello – Episode 105: Closing credits
    17. “And When I Die” – Laura Nyro – Episode 106: Freddie & Bill
    18. “My Favorite Things” – John Coltrane – Episode 106: Closing credits
    19. “Watching The Wheels” – Matisyahu – Episode 107: Closing credits
    20. “Tennessee Waltz” – Patti Page – Episode 108: Barry has vision in bar
    21. “When Love Comes To Town” – U2 – Episode 108: Closing credits
    22. “Hold On, I’m Coming” – Sam & Dave – Episode 109: Closing credits
    23. “Series of Dreams” – Bob Dylan – Episode 110: Opening scene w/clouds and John & Shaun’s return, surfing in together