Monday, July 30, 2007

"I should deprive myself of telepathic information to spare you irritation from cheeping.": John from Cincinnati

Sorry it took so long to post this review. Unlike my lateness on other shows, I missed this one simply because I no longer know what the hell to say about this show or even what the hell I THINK of it. I enjoy watching it, and I find the process of seeing it hypnotic, and I'm really into all of the side stuff about how John seems to be setting up a new religious movement (the weird little stick man symbol was the latest evidence of this, and it was pretty great), but I increasingly feel like the center here is hollow and that's being disguised with a lot of really terrific side stuff. This means that the show isn't wholly without merit. Indeed, it's really quite good at times (I still can't shake that sermon scene from episode six). But it feels more and more like something that can never quite pull everything together. It's not quite a noble failure (because it's not quite a failure), but it's also not quite the kind of masterpiece we might have dreamed of.

So what do we have here? We have an oft-fascinating show that mixes absolutely brilliant scenes (Bill's interrogation of John, which was the sort of thing that felt simultaneously like nothing we'd ever seen before and everything we'd ever seen before) with scenes that seem designed just to inveigle and provoke. I get that the people here are reacting to miracles as they might in the real world (with skepticism and sheer avoidance), but at some point, it becomes patently unbelievable that, say, Bill or Butchie wouldn't take the leap and admit that something mystical or paranormal was going on here. When the show taps into things like the interrogation scene or the sermon, it feels like something primal and deep, something that has its roots in an underground mythology we can't quite see clearly. But much of the other time, it borders on weirdness for weirdness' sake.

But I'm still invested because that mythology seems to run so silent and run so deep. I'm longing to find out why John seems so frustrated by his inability to say anything beyond parroting what others tell him. And I want to know why he only seems able to speak his own mind when he's astrally projecting. And, hey, now he's got computer hacker powers.

Do I expect good answers to these questions? I have to admit that I don't. But I love trying to puzzle out the answers hidden in the margins, only hinted at. And any series that can kick out a scene like the one where Barry is accosted by the unseen voice in the room he dreams of turning into a theater (finally crumbling under the voice calling him a "faggot") is one that I will continue to watch, probably as long as it's on the air.

But, I confess, I'm deeply ambivalent to this show. I've loved a lot of it, but I've been tired out by an equal amount. I suspect it's the sort of thing I'll love more when I'm 60 and I have the time to sit down and parse out all of its many hidden meanings and subtexts. And while I'll continue to blog the next two episodes, I fear that it may be time for me to call "Uncle" to David Milch. You have won, good sir!

1 comment:

For Your Speculation said...

Agreed on all points and I'm still waiting for Bruce Greenwood to come back.