Jonathan Storm | 2 TV lures that could land a few viewers

Posted: June 16, 2007

With apologies to the funny Farrelly brothers, who brought us Dumb and Dumber, it's Weird and Weirder tomorrow on the two big pay-cable networks.

There's not enough that's dumb in the too-intense Meadowlands (10 p.m. on Showtime), but some silliness makes John From Cincinnati (9 p.m. on HBO) seem like it could be a keeper. Both shows are unapologetically eccentric, which may be just the thing for the pay cablers.

They don't care who watches, as long as people pay their subscription fees, and John and Meadowlands are just the kind of shows, unlike anything else on TV, that might persuade a few hundred thousand cultists to sign up, while their creativity keeps current subscribers interested enough to hang in to see what's next on the pricey services.

John is the saga of three generations of super-surfers with three different approaches to life in their dilapidated Surf City, the seriously misnamed Imperial Beach, Calif., the last stop before the Mexican border, or the first one after it.

Illegals scamper northward in the dunes while grandmaster granddad Mitch Yost's inner spirit seeks communion with the oneness of the sea, as his 10 toes hang from the front of his board, and the title character materializes, speaking in riddles. It's pretty clear he's never been anywhere near Cincinnati.

Is he God or Starman? Deadwood David Milch, who has instilled his latest show with almost as much vulgarity as his dear, departed Western, might know, but we have about as much chance of figuring it out as we do of understanding the mechanics of John's magic pants. They instantly produce exact change for any particular situation, from $50 cash to a platinum card backed by unlimited funds.

Last week's premiere, following Tony Soprano's blackout, seemed designed to discourage viewers. Tomorrow night, the show opens up a bit, thanks in part to the arrival of an idiosyncratic drug dealer (serving the family's lost-soul middle son) who, someone says, "looks like Bowzer from Sha Na Na."

And he does.

Rebecca De Mornay plays the tough-talking grandma (!), and the former Al Bundy, Ed O'Neill, excels as a loopy ex-cop with a supernatural bird.

You may have wiped out after that first go-round, but catch the wave again tonight, and you just might dig the gnarly ride.

Meadowlands is a Witness Protection community combining The Prisoner's Village, Desperate Housewives' Wisteria Lane, and some feverish dark place in David Lynch's brain.

This is another family drama, sure. Some family.

One of the 17-year-old twins sees herself as a sexual adventuress. She's also the mouthpiece for her mute, autistic brother, who has a wig so he can look like her and who likes to dress up in the roly-poly neighbor's underwear.

Everybody in this British import is hiding from outside peril and the inside demons of their past, and they all seem pretty dangerous. So, why go looking for trouble?


Jonathan Storm |

Television Review

John from Cincinnati

Tomorrow night at 9 on HBO

Meadowlands

Tomorrow night at 10 on Showtime


To comment on this article, go to: http://go.philly.com/askstorm. Contact television critic Jonathan Storm at 215-854-5618 or jstorm@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/jonathanstorm.

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