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John From Cincinnati: HBO

"John From Cincinnati" might be the strangest show ever produced for American television — an HBO drama that makes "Twin Peaks" look like "Mayberry RFD." Yet even worshippers at the altar of writer extraordinaire David Milch are likely to find themselves bewildered and frustrated with the premiere, and two subsequent episodes only marginally improve matters. It’s easy to admire the hypnotic poetry in Milch’s dialogue, but this existential surfing fantasy — infused with a touch of "Starman" — dips and swerves amid its confounding currents, and hardly appears like the standard-bearer to help lead the pay service into a post-"Sopranos" future. (Variety)The series is likely going to be an acquired taste. It remains to be seen if this will replace "The Sopranos" as HBO’s new signature series. It takes a while to get into the "John" characters and its ethereal, strange themes. They are not instantly relatable or innately fascinating, like a Tony Soprano, but the initial episodes have enough intrigue and magical happenings that most viewers will stay around. (Cincinnati Post)John From Cincinnati, HBO’s new surf drama, offers an unlikely mix of salty spirituality and gnarly waves. (NY Magazine)“For those who can tolerate the continued assault on the ears in hopes that the humanity of the characters may start to emerge, the quality of the performances makes this a distinct possibility.” (Catholic)“Early episodes give a hint of the paranormal and spiritual, but so far there’s no explanation for Mitch’s levitation or John’s background.That leaves us with a strange show that features some impressive surfing scenes, nutty Milchian characters and a lot of head scratching.” (The State) There are flashes of his brilliance. John From Cincinnati contains breathtaking surfing footage and creates some intriguing mysteries. Who is John and where did he come from? Why is the grandpa rising from the ground? How is that some characters have a miraculous, restorative touch… A pretentious and talky botch, John From Cincinnati won’t fill the void left by The Sopranos. Milch should get back in the game. (Orlando Sentinel)Ultimately, viewers just have to work a lot harder to fathom John from Cincinnati than Tony from Jersey. Never mind the reward potential. That’s an effort far fewer will choose to undertake. (amny)“You may be confused, frustrated or annoyed by “John.” Yet amid that bafflement, you may end up intrigued as well. The fact is, if anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt — for a little while, anyway — it’s Milch. That’s one thing I know.” (Chicago Tribune) “As profane as "Deadwood" and as profound as "The Sopranos," the series strikes every right chord.” (New York Post)“Ultimately, viewers just have to work a lot harder to fathom John from Cincinnati than Tony from Jersey.” (Newsday)“Mesmerizing and entertainingly confounding.” (LA Weekly)“Sometimes "John From Cincinnati" is a muddle, at other times rich drama and divine comedy. And sometimes it’s all of that at once.” (Los Angeles Times)“Three episodes in, I started to buy into the world Milch has created. I don’t understand it, I don’t think I even really like it (almost all of the characters are damaged and rather unpleasant), but I am intrigued by it.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)“Intriguing but not entirely satisfying.” (Hollywood Reporter)“The first three episodes of this peculiar series bored me silly with its pretentious mannerisms, and I can’t help thinking that many HBO subscribers will tune in and wonder: They dropped Deadwood for this?” (TV Guide)“The only thing a person can be certain of after watching "John From Cincinnati" is this: Any die-hard "Deadwood" fan interested in keeping the veins in his forehead intact should not bother with it.”(Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

Series, HBO, Sunday 10:00PM

Compiled by Bryon Rudd