With the series finale of “The Sopranos,” HBO is facing a crossroads. I’m not sure what percentage of the network’s subscribers were mainly (or only) interested in Tony Soprano and his family, but it has to be significant. HBO is aware that they need to quickly develop more good programming if they hope to keep the train going down the tracks.
Their first hour-long effort is “John from Cincinnati” (from “Deadwood” creator David Milch). The series revolves around San Diego family of surfers as they encounter a strange visitor, who acts as if he might be from another planet. In just two episodes, Milch has introduced a bevy of interesting characters and, as far as the language and dialogue goes, the show actually has a very “Deadwood” feel to it. There are a number of familiar faces in the cast, including Rebecca De Mornay (who is excellent as the family’s matriarch), Ed O’Neill, Luis Guzman and Luke Perry.
In the half-hour comedy category, “Flight of the Conchords” follows Jemaine and Bret, two aspiring musicians from New Zealand, as they navigate New York City. It’s a musical of sorts, as the duo occasionally break out into quirky songs that relate to whatever is going on in their life. The premiere was quite funny, especially the song Jemaine sings to a girl at a party. If the Barenaked Ladies had developed a sitcom (and never released “One Week,” which made them too popular) and enlisted Wes Anderson to direct, it might have turned out like this.
So far, so good.