Posted by mike in Entertainment at 8:59 pm on July 10, 2007

It took a couple of episodes to get going, but now that it’s really hitting its stride, I have to say I’m really enjoying John From Cincinnati, HBO’s new series that got placed in the recently vacated (and highly coveted) Sopranos time slot. The show is an eclectic look at a surfing-obsessed southern California community, its first family of surfing, and an enigmatic visitor whose arrival heralds the beginning of a trend of paranormal occurrences. While I obviously don’t know where the storyline is headed, I can say that it has a very Twin Peaks-esque feel thus far: there’s a great mix of mystery, quirkiness, and drama with just the right amount of humor thrown in–not to mention a bit of supernatural intrigue sprinkled on top.

What really makes this show, though, is the cast. While several of the primary characters are relative unknowns, about half of the cast is comprised of some really fine actors from the I wonder what happened to… file. From Rebecca De Mornay as a feisty 50-something grandmother to Luke Perry as a scheming surfer agent, there’s some great almost-forgotten actors giving terrific performances week in and week out. Ed O’Neill, though, really steals the show. He began the series as a quirky minor character, but has quickly grown into a pivotal (and very welcome) part of the developing story arc.

The show also features a couple of my favorite modern-day character actors, Luis Guzman and Willie Garson. Among the unknowns, I find myself very intrigued by and attracted to Emily Rose (who looks like she might be Elisha Cuthbert‘s older, better-acting sister–though she’s not) and the punky Keala Kennelly.

HBO continues to be one of the best reasons to get cable, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this series goes.