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James Hibberd

HBO Panel, Part 2 D.M.

January 12, 2007 10:44 PM

The HBO session is salvaged by my hero, David Milch.

Listening to David Milch is the tonic for the aforementioned “Flowers for Algernon' TCA mental erosion and self-pitying “Clockwork Orange' metaphors. When he speaks, you feel yourself getting smarter, growing more enlightened, seeing the bigger picture, and swearing a lot more.

His voice is both soothing and dangerous. He’s almost as fun as Albrecht to watch manage the critics.

The best part about Milch, a former Yale professor, is that if you were to ask him a question about, say, “Deadwood' ratings, he would answer by discussing, for example, the unique properties of South Pole ice core samples. Then he’d lead you down a fascinating, yet seemingly irrelevant, path that he somehow eventually manages to swing all the way back around to the original “Deadwood' question and you realize in an “eureka!' moment that the ice core samples were actually a perfect metaphor for Nielsen sampling.

If his “Deadwood' plots didn’t meander in the exact same way, he might have gotten a full fourth season.

This session is for his new series, “John from Cincinnati.' From the trailer, it looks possibly even less accessible than “Deadwood.' A washed-out-looking paranormal surfing series where an aging surfer discovers he can levitate a few inches off the ground and another brings a bird back to life.

None of the six actors on the panel say very much during this session, nor can they. Milch is a one-man show, and a question about his drama quickly segues into a lecture about string theory. While a question about surfing results in a discussion about drug use (“I’ve engaged in a pharmaceutical project when I was eight, then a nitrous oxide project, then drifted into a narcotics project … and all that research was to try to ride a wave that one could generate on one’s own terms').

One seemingly clever critic asked if the aging surfer levitates to the height of his surfboard. Milch replies: “Height? You mean the width. In my country, people call it the width.'


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