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”.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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