“I know that I know nothing” —Socrates
We have been using the HBO Go app on our Apple TV to rewatch one of our favorite HBO series, John From Cincinnati. JFC was Writer/Director/Producer David Milch’s next project after his series, Deadwood, was cancelled. Milch (Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, Luck) teamed up with surfer/novelist Kem Nunn and created a series that produced more questions than answers.
“Somethings I know and somethings I don’t.” —John (title character)
This story is set in the Southern California town of Imperial Beach and features the Yost family in all of their dysfunctional splendor. Patriarch, Mitch Yost (played by Bruce Greenwood) was the surfing champ of the ‘60s; Rebecca DeMornay is his wife, Sissy Yost, lovely as ever and pissed off at the world; Brian Van Holt is Butchie Yost, Mitch and Sissy’s son, and former surfing champ of the ‘80s and now a burned out drug addict; Grayson Fletcher plays Butchie’s son, Shaun, and is the 13 year-old rising star of the family who is ready to turn pro (much to Mitch’s dismay).
Two people drop into this familial drama. The first person is John who appears out of nowhere and speaks in perplexing circles when he is not repeating what he hears. Played by Austin Nichols, John is befriended by Butchie when it becomes apparent that John has money and might be very naive in the ways of life. Butchie thinks he has found a source to fund his drug habit in an ongoing fashion.
The second driving character is Linc Stark (Luke Perry) who is a surfing promoter and the guy who ruined Butchie’s career. He has his sights set on signing Shaun and making his next fortune off the child’s incredible surfing skills. Luke has his own mysterious plan involving the Yost clan and is the one character who adapts the quickest to changing situations.
Here is a look at a trailer for John From Cincinnati
If you are at all familiar with David Miltch’s work you know that you can expect adult situations and language. You may also expect an all-star ensemble cast and he delivers just that in this series.
- Ed O’Neill (Married With Children) plays family friend, and former cop, Bill Jacks, who guides us through the nuts and bolts of finding out more about John and the Yost family situation.
- Dayton Callie (Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy) is drug dealer, Steady Freddie, who has traveled from Hawaii to Imperial Beach to straighten out Butchie’s debt.
- Matt Winston (Scrubs, Six Feet Under) is Barry Cunningham, a recent California Lottery winner and new owner of the run-down motel where Butchie is living as a squatter.
- Jim Beaver (Deadwood, Justified) is Viet Nam Joe, a gun-toting Libertarian who lives off the Grid and supports himself by fishing and growing Pot.
David Milch and his writers do a great job of bringing these disparate characters together and keeping the audience interested in what-happens-next to this train wreck of a family. The dynamics of the Yost family may be far-removed from the experience of a majority of the viewing audience, but their personal struggles and relationships relate to everyone’s life. Some interesting story/character arcs were forming by the end of Season 1, but sadly the series was cancelled.
In the event that you are not an HBO subscriber, you can watch John From Cincinnati on DVD. This is definitely an ADULT DRAMA. If you are sensitive to language/drug use/sexual situations then this may not be your cup of tea (or your children’s). You can, however, enjoy this video of Joe Strummer performing Johnny Appleseed, the catchy tune that is used in the Title Track of the show.