Cancellation Looming for John From Cincinnati?


Update – 8/14: John is officially done for – HBO whips right around and announces a new David Milch project.

Original post:

The first words spoken in the first episode of HBO’s John From Cincinnati, mouthed by walking riddle John Monad, were “The end is near.” Maybe that was the first clue from creator David Milch that he didn’t expect, or maybe even intend for the series to be long for this world. And now there are rumblings that support from the network is gone. TV Blogger cites a source inside HBO that claims they do not intend to pick up John for a second season. Another unnamed source, reportedly from inside the show, backs that up, saying “I don’t know for sure, but from what I’ve heard, the grape vine and such, we won’t be back.” File this under unconfirmed speculation, but few would be surprised if that turned out to be the case.

The warning signs proceeded the premiere of the show. Some of the first early impressions came from Tim Goodman of The San Francisco Chronicle, who a week before the series debut, proclaimed “‘John From Cincinnati’ is bad. I love David Milch and he’s definitely a misunderstood visionary and a real character in the TV business. But this show is a total mess.'” More head scratching followed.

The day and date of the premiere didn’t help. HBO did the show no favors by airing it directly after The Sopranos finale. Many were too busy checking their cable boxes for failure in the closing minutes, hitting the message boards, or calling friends wondering aloud how David Chase could have the big brass balls to carry out such a closing act. While we were all trying to figure out what had just happened, the numbers on the odometer rolled over, and the standard bearer for a new era of HBO – John From Cincinnati was broadcast, though many viewers had already checked out for the night.

And more than a few that stuck around were thinking “they cancelled Deadwood for this? Levitating surfers? The man with the magic pockets? Al Bundy as a parrot-whisperer?” A three-generation surfing clan, a Christ-like figure with qualities unique to an answering machine, and parking-lot soliloquys are more the stuff of David Lynch than a blueprint for a breakout hit. For all the pre-airing hype and buildup, June 10th was not the day to roll out something as enigmatic as John From Cincinnati. A more modest premiere date, maybe something in the fall that could have coincided with the return of Curb Your Enthusiasm and the much talked about Sex & Couples Therapy & More Sex dramatic series, entitled Tell Me You Love Me would have been a much more productive and realistic time to show off the embedded mysteries and cult-hit, slash word-of-mouth potential for John.

As it happened, with only Entourage, Flight of the Conchords, and season two of mid-size hit Big Love looming, an immediate back-to-back pairing with the finale to HBO’s most culture changing, most profitable show ever was way too much, too soon for David Milch’s follow up to Deadwood.

So with the shadow of The Sopranos hanging over – mixed reviews, sagging ratings, and a scripter with a penchant for using solved plot puzzles as building blocks for bigger plot puzzles, we come to a situation where the end may be near. Again, more questions than answers:

If a cancellation does come to pass, does that allow Milch the time to get back to work on those two, two-hour Deadwood movies, the one hope that the devoted have been clinging to? Could it even spark a decision to bring it back as a proper series? A few weeks ago, the word from HBO about the 2-hour closers was that they were “doable but daunting” and there had not been much discussion with Milch on them as of late. A JFC cancellation would certainly increase the chances of more Deadwood to come, but there’s also the matter of reassembling the cast and crew – Timothy Olymphant and Ian McShane probably being the most necessary re-gets – and the hardest considering their ever-increasing workloads on the big screen.

The bigger question is whether Milch could see himself back on old turf. He admittedly has a track record for turning in scripts at the eleventh hour – would a return to the Deadwood set be a motivational factor, or not a big enough thrill to get things going creatively? He’s not one for having only one iron in the fire at a time. Looking back over a year ago, when JFC was in pre-production, I had this written up in some state-of-HBO notes (it was never clear as to whether these were ideas for new HBO series or for another network): “Besides John, [Milch] is also developing Six Guys Named Gonzalez, about Puerto Rican culture in New York, another about the founding of the John Hopkins Medical School in the late 1800’s, a series about horse racing, and finally a police drama with a former NYPD Blue collaborator.” Whether any of these concepts get off the ground, or if John from Cincinnati manages to somehow make it to a second season despite the rumor mill, are just a few more questions to walk away with.

The season finale, if not the series finale for John From Cincinnati airs on August 12th.

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Posted by Ted Zee on August 06th 2007 | Home Page | 8 Comments Subscribe to this site's feed

8 Responses

  1. Stasia Says:

    I wasn’t crazy about the show after the first episode but I’ve been watching it each week and am now obsessed. I really hope that HBO will bring it back! I really feel that it is one of the most interesting shows on television and that if given more time will develop a following.

  2. Savannah Says:

    Join our postcard campaign to HBO to bring back the show:

  3. gobo Says:

    it has grown on me.

  4. Michael Says:

    To tell the truth I was absolutely bored by the first episode. I could even sit through it on a first viewing. After giving the second episode a chance I was hooked. All of a sudden the pilot was a lot better. And from then on I’ve been anxiously awaiting each new episode.

  5. Brian Says:

    I quite like the series, but I would be more than satisfied with a series wrap up and a return to Deadwood. In some ways, I think JFC would be a great 8 episode (mini)series, if it closes well.

  6. Trishah Says:

    The Official SaveJFC Postcard Campaign is at where you can vote for your favorite postcard design.

    You can contribute at to the address”

    We will see how much we have collected by next Thru (Aug 23) and go from there. The printer will mail for us however many postcards we can afford.

  7. Neezy Says:

    Sooooo sorry but this show is made of COMPLETE FAIL!!! Do you people even know what the show is about? I watched every single episode, and the finale…. still dont know what the basis was even about. HBO .. please please please dont bring this waste of time back for a 2nd season! I’ll cry.

  8. ezb Says:

    JFC is an intelligent show for an intelligent audience. That’s why people like Nezzy don’t get it.
    It’s so disappointing there will be no season two.

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