John From Cincinnati
His Visit: Day Four

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Mr. Sobell: D+ | Grade It Now!
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The Guns of Imperial Beach

Just when you thought Tina might be A-OK, we see her walking into a hotel bar where Linc is busy imbibing. "We know each other," Tina says to the barkeep, perhaps a little too defensively. The barkeep just wants to know what Tina wants to drink -- she and Linc are free to converse or barter money for sex or form a union of pure evil that threatens the Yosts and therefore all of humanity, so far as it concerns the bartender. And that's how it should be, really. When I go to my local watering hole, the last thing I need is for some nosy suds-jockey getting all up in my grill about my plans to control the West Coast surfing scene. I think you'll agree. Linc's curious to see if Tina got in to see Shaun (she did) and if there were any casualties (only that Peter Gabriel CD). "How do you feel?" Linc asks. "Like now I gotta leave town," Tina says. No, no, no, Linc insists -- stay here. You can come up to my room and we can drink and form unholy unions and end this episode with a general sense of unease about what's to come. And so they do. "Keep me in the game," Linc whispers to Tina as they leave the bar. This probably bodes ill for everybody, Shaun most of all.

So. Here's the thing about TV shows. You usually have to take an episode or two just to introduce all your characters, set up the story and give the viewers the assurance that, yes, they'll want to spend an hour out of their lives every week watching your show. So when you've got a 10-episode season -- coincidentally John From Cincinnati's slated run -- that's 20 percent of the season, you've got to devote just to letting people know what the show is about. So it is imperative that you make the remaining episodes you have count, that you don't take a week off, that you don't waste time with a lot of thumb-twiddling. And this episode? Look at those thumbs twiddle. Think back to the very best shows that have been on HBO. The first season of Six Feet Under. The Sopranos, before HBO drove a dump-truck full of money up to David Chase's house and convinced him to string things out a couple seasons too many. Any season of The Wire. Can you honestly look back at any of these shows and see any wasted effort, any episode that made you say "Boy, I could have skipped that one without any problem?" I would suggest that you could not. I would further suggest that you could say that about the last hour of John From Cincinnati, after two fairly promising episodes. And at this stage in the game, it's getting a little infuriating.

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John From Cincinnati

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