John from Cincinnati

Last updated
John from Cincinnati
JFC Promo.jpg
Created by David Milch
Kem Nunn
Starring Bruce Greenwood
Rebecca De Mornay
Austin Nichols
Ed O'Neill
Luke Perry
Keala Kennelly
Luis Guzmán
Willie Garson
Matt Winston
Garret Dillahunt
Brian Van Holt
Jim Beaver
Greyson Fletcher
Dayton Callie
Paula Malcomson
Emily Rose
Mark-Paul Gosselaar
Jennifer Grey
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes10
Production locations Imperial Beach, California
Running time55 minutes
Original network HBO
Original releaseJune 10 (2007-06-10) 
August 12, 2007 (2007-08-12)

John from Cincinnati is an American drama television series, set against the surfing community of Imperial Beach, California. It aired on HBO from June 10 to August 12, 2007.



John from Cincinnati is the result of a collaborative effort between writer/producer David Milch and author Kem Nunn, whose novels have been termed "surf noir". [1] The program deals with a strange young man of mysterious origin and the effect he has on a dysfunctional family of professional surfers and their community.

The series includes surfing sequences by well-respected surfers such as Brock Little, Keala Kennelly, Dan Malloy, John-John Florence, Shane Beschen, and Herbie Fletcher. [2]

The series' theme song is "Johnny Appleseed," performed by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros. A diverse soundtrack includes "Tic" by Kava Kava and songs from TV on the Radio, Muse, Buddy Guy, Kasabian, and the Yardbirds.

Cast and characters

Bruce Greenwood Mitch YostAn aging and proud professional surfer who co-owns a surf shop with his wife. Their marriage is tumultuous, primarily due to Mitch's self-indulgent behavior and Cissy's overbearing personality. Mitch has come to believe that surfing should be an end unto itself, and that judged competitive events have tainted the sport.
Rebecca De Mornay Cissy YostMitch's stubborn wife and co-owner of the surf shop. It is revealed that when her son Butchie was an adolescent, and she was under the influence of LSD, Cissy caught him masturbating and proceeded to show him "how to do that." Her regret and self-recrimination over this event had a serious impact on her emotions.
Brian Van Holt Mitch "Butchie" Yost IIMitch's heroin-addicted son and professional surfer, whose painful adolescence has rendered him emasculated and incapable of shouldering great responsibility. Became a professional surfer after signing with Linc Stark then revolutionized the sport by popularizing aerials in surfing.
Austin Nichols John MonadA mysterious person, seemingly mentally disabled, who often repeats what he has already heard or what people are thinking, and can manifest requested objects through his pockets. He appears to be able to perform astral projection. During the projection, John is able to converse naturally, without resorting to only repeating words already spoken by others. His last name refers to the Greek word monas, a term the Pythagoreans linked to God as the original "one" from whom all else flows, a clue to a secret divinity or primal "oneness".
Ed O'Neill Bill JacksAn obsessive retired police officer and friend of the Yosts who tends to babble and talk to himself, and constantly tries to fill the hole that Butchie has made in Shaun's life. His house is filled with caged birds, with whom he converses.
Luke Perry Linc StarkA surf talent scout, manager and agent. Owner of Stinkweed surf products. Recently bought out by his financial backers.
Luis Guzmán Ramon GaviotaManager and caretaker of the Snug Harbor Motel.
Matt Winston Barry CunninghamA mentally unstable man who recently won the Mega Millions lottery and bought the local Snug Harbor Motel; went to grade school with Butchie. He experienced sexual abuse by Mr. Rollins in room 24 of the motel as a child and originally purchased it with the intent to tear it down. Was bullied in high school, specifically by Butchie Yost. A blow to the head caused him to develop epileptic seizures during which he has visions that guide his decisions.
Willie Garson Meyer DicksteinLawyer and huge surf fan who hangs around the Snug Harbor Motel, and who arranged the sale of the hotel to the new owner, Barry Cunningham.
Jennifer Grey DaphneMeyer Dickstein's fiancée.
Greyson FletcherShaun Yost14-year-old son of Butchie Yost and Tina Blake; surf prodigy. Tina gave Shaun to his grandparents, Cissy and Mitch Yost, to raise the day he was born.
Keala Kennelly KaiA young woman surfer who works at the Yosts' surf shop. She is friends with Shaun Yost, and usually surfs with him. Dated Butchie in high school.
Jim Beaver Vietnam JoeA war veteran who helps people cross the Mexican border into the U.S. illegally. Grows and smokes marijuana.
Garret Dillahunt Dr. Michael SmithThe neurologist who treated Shaun after a surfing accident. Subsequently resigned to shield Shaun from undue scrutiny after Shaun's miracle recovery from a broken neck sustained while winning his first surf competition.
Dayton Callie Steady Freddie LopezA drug dealer from Hawaii with ties to the Yost family, particularly Butchie.
Emily Rose CassA filmmaker formerly employed by Linc Stark to seduce Mitch and break up Mitch and Cissy's marriage because, unlike Cissy, Mitch does not want Shaun to become a competition surfer, especially with Linc Stark, whom Mitch blames for Butchie's disastrous failings.
Paul Ben-Victor PalakaAn associate of Steady Freddie Lopez.
Chandra West Tina BlakeShaun's mother. She now works as a pornographic actress and prostitute but wants to leave the business.
Mark-Paul Gosselaar Jake FerrisLinc Stark's business partner.
Matthew Maher DwayneHarelipped maintainer of the Yost family web site. Usually works out of Jerri's coffee shop.
Paula Malcomson JerriOperates local coffee shop.

Ratings and cancellation

The pilot for the series was shown directly after the highly anticipated series finale of The Sopranos , but it failed to sustain an audience. The Sopranos received an audience of 11.9 million people according to Nielsen ratings, but John from Cincinnati held onto only 3.4 million viewers. Subsequent episodes initially lost viewers, but ratings began to see a slow increase, and by the final episode viewership had reached over 3 million; more than some episodes of Deadwood . [3]

One day after the season finale aired, HBO canceled the show. [4]


No. in
TitleWritten byDirected byOriginal air dateProduction
1"His Visit, Day One" David Milch & Kem Nunn Mark Tinker June 10, 2007 (2007-06-10)101
A stranger called John arrives in a small shore-side town — Imperial Beach, California — near the Mexican border, where he befriends a legendary surfing family, the Yosts. Meanwhile, Mitch prohibits his grandson, Shaun, from attending a surfing competition, and Dickstein and Ramon meet the Snug Harbor Motel's new owner.
2"His Visit, Day Two" Kem Nunn Gregg Fienberg June 17, 2007 (2007-06-17)102
A drug dealer surfaces on Imperial Beach looking for Butchie. Linc expresses interest in sponsoring Shaun in his next competition. Barry decides not to raze the Snug Harbor Motel after a vision tells him not to.
3"His Visit, Day Two Continued" Ted Mann Mark TinkerJune 24, 2007 (2007-06-24)103
Dr. Smith is brought to a revelation that something miraculous occurred in Shaun's hospital room in order to revive him. Kai brings John back to her home to determine whether he is telling the truth. Cass turns out to be a source of comfort for Mitch, who is completely oblivious to her affiliation with Linc.
4"His Visit, Day Three" Regina Corrado John McNaughton July 1, 2007 (2007-07-01)104
Some thugs rough up John; Kai connects with Butchie; Dr. Smith gets a new patient; Shaun's mother arrives in Imperial Beach.
5"His Visit, Day Four"Steve Hawk Ed Bianchi July 8, 2007 (2007-07-08)105
Zippy issues Bill an unusual mandate; Shaun's porn-star mother lets the Yosts know she's back.
6"His Visit, Day Five" Alix Lambert Tom Vaughan July 15, 2007 (2007-07-15)106
John tries to help Cissy and Bill confront events that occurred in the past. Meanwhile, Butchie attempts to organize a reunion between his son Shaun and biological mother Tina.
7"His Visit, Day Six"Nichole Beattie Jeremy Podeswa July 22, 2007 (2007-07-22)107
Linc's Stinkweed reign is challenged; Dwayne eyes Shaun's online future; Dr. Smith tends to Palaka.
8"His Visit, Day Seven"Abby Gewanter Jesse Bochco July 29, 2007 (2007-07-29)108
The citizens of Imperial Beach fear for Shaun's safety after John gives them an ominous message.
9"His Visit, Day Eight"Wayne Loren Wilson Adam Davidson August 5, 2007 (2007-08-05)109
Shaun goes missing, and it is posited that John may be a robot.
10"His Visit, Day Nine" Zack Whedon Dan Minahan August 12, 2007 (2007-08-12)110
Butchie and Kai wake up to a joyous revelation: Shaun has returned, surfing into the beach with John; but he can't explain where he's been. Imperial Beach plays host to a makeshift parade organized by a revamped Stinkweed. The episode, and the series itself, ends with a cryptic message by John, "Mother of God, Cass-Kai", super-imposed over a clip of Kai surfing.

Home media

John from Cincinnati: The Complete First Season
DetailsSpecial Features
  • Two audio commentaries by show creator David Milch.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Featurette focusing on the sequences with the visions characters had in the "Day 5" episode.
Region 1Region 2Region 4
April 1, 2008 [5] July 20, 2009 [6] September 3, 2008

Related Research Articles

<i>The Sopranos</i> American television series 1999–2007

The Sopranos is an American crime drama television series created by David Chase. The story revolves around Tony Soprano, a New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster, portraying the difficulties that he faces as he tries to balance his family life with his role as the leader of a criminal organization. These are explored during his therapy sessions with psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi. The series features Tony's family members, mafia colleagues, and rivals in prominent roles—most notably his wife Carmela and his protégé/distant cousin Christopher Moltisanti.

Imperial Beach, California City in California, United States

Imperial Beach is a residential beach city in San Diego County, California, with a population of 26,324 at the 2010 census. The city is the southernmost city in California and the West Coast of the United States. It is in the South Bay area of San Diego County, 14.1 miles (22.7 km) south of downtown San Diego and 5 miles (8 km) northwest of downtown Tijuana, Mexico.

<i>Carnivàle</i> 2003–2005 American television series

Carnivàle is an American television series set in the United States Dust Bowl during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The series, created by Daniel Knauf, ran for two seasons between 2003 and 2005. In tracing the lives of disparate groups of people in a traveling carnival, Knauf's story combined a bleak atmosphere with elements of the surreal in portraying struggles between good and evil and between free will and destiny. The show's mythology drew upon themes and motifs from traditional Christianity and gnosticism together with Masonic lore, particularly that of the Knights Templar order.

David Chase American screenwriter, director and producer

David Henry Chase is an American screenwriter, director, and producer. He is best known for writing and producing the HBO drama The Sopranos which aired for six seasons between 1999 and 2007. Chase has also produced and written for such shows as The Rockford Files, I'll Fly Away, and Northern Exposure. He created the original series Almost Grown which aired for 10 episodes in 1988 and 1989. He has won seven Emmy Awards. Chase's film debut came in 2012 with Not Fade Away, followed by The Many Saints of Newark (2021), a prequel film to the TV series The Sopranos.

David Milch

David Sanford Milch is an American writer and producer of television series. He has created several television shows, including NYPD Blue and Deadwood.

Edward Bianchi is an American television director and producer. He is better known for his work on Deadwood, Boardwalk Empire, Yellowstone, and The Get Down.

Austin Nichols American actor and director (born 1980)

Austin Nichols is an American actor and director, known for his role as Julian Baker in The CW drama series One Tree Hill. He is also known for his roles in the films The Day After Tomorrow and Wimbledon. He starred as John Monad in the HBO drama series John from Cincinnati, and portrayed Spencer Monroe in the AMC horror drama series The Walking Dead.

Brian Van Holt American actor (born 1969)

Brian Van Holt is an American actor. He is best known for playing Bo & Vincent Sinclair in House of Wax and Bobby Cobb on the TV series Cougar Town.

Mark Tinker is an American television producer and director. Tinker was an executive producer and regular director on the HBO series Deadwood. Prior to Deadwood, Tinker served as a director/producer on NYPD Blue, which was co-created by Deadwood writer David Milch. Tinker has also directed episodes of The White Shadow, St. Elsewhere, Capital News, Civil Wars, Chicago Hope, L.A. Law, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, Chicago P.D., Magnum P.I., and American Gods.

Kem Nunn

Kem Nunn is a third-generation Californian novelist, surfer, magazine and television writer who lives in northern California. He has been described as "the inventor of surf-noir" for his novels' dark themes, political overtones and surf settings. He is the author of six novels, including his 1984 seminal debut surf novel Tapping the Source. Tapping The Source inspired the 1991 movie Point Break, and its 2015 remake.

Soprano Home Movies 13th episode of the sixth season of The Sopranos

"Soprano Home Movies" is the 78th episode of the HBO television drama series The Sopranos and the 13th episode of the sixth season. It served as the midseason premiere to the second part of Season 6, which HBO broadcast in two parts.

<i>Lost</i> (season 4) Season of television series

The fourth season of the American serial drama television series Lost commenced airing on the ABC network in the United States, and on CTV in Canada on January 31, 2008, and concluded on May 29, 2008. The season continues the stories of a group of over 40 people who have been stranded on a remote island in the South Pacific, after their airplane crashed there more than 90 days prior to the beginning of the season. According to Lost's executive producers/writers/showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, there are two main themes in the fourth season: "the castaways' relationship to the freighter folk" and "who gets off the island and the fact that they need to get back". The fourth season was acclaimed for its flash-forwards, pace and new characters.

Made in America (<i>The Sopranos</i>) 21st episode of the sixth season of The Sopranos

"Made in America" is the series finale of the HBO drama series The Sopranos. It is the 86th episode of the series, the ninth episode of the second part of the show's sixth season, and the 21st episode of the season overall. Written and directed by series creator, executive producer and showrunner David Chase, it first aired in the United States on June 10, 2007. The final scene that cuts to black has drawn interpretation; Chase has refused to give a definitive answer to the ending.

<i>Luck</i> (TV series)

Luck is an American dramatic television series created by David Milch and starring Dustin Hoffman. The pilot episode was directed by Michael Mann. The series premiered on January 29, 2012. HBO aired the first episode on December 11, 2011, as a preview. It was immediately renewed for a second season of 10 episodes, scheduled to air beginning in January 2013. However, the series was canceled on March 14, 2012, due to animal safety concerns. Three horses were killed during production of the series. The first season's remaining episodes continued to air. The complete first season was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 27, 2012.

Regina Corrado is an American television writer. She has been nominated for two Writers Guild of America Awards for her work on Deadwood.

Alix Lambert is an American documentary filmmaker and television writer. She has been nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for her work on Deadwood.

<i>True Detective</i> American TV series

True Detective is an American anthology crime drama television series created and written by Nic Pizzolatto. The series, broadcast by the premium cable network HBO in the United States, premiered on January 12, 2014. Each season of the series is structured as a self-contained narrative, employing new cast ensembles, and following various sets of characters and settings.

<i>Sex and the City</i> (season 6)

The sixth and final season of the American television romantic comedy-drama Sex and the City aired in the United States on HBO. The show was created by Darren Star while Star, Michael Patrick King, John P. Melfi, series lead actress Sarah Jessica Parker, Cindy Chupack, and Jenny Bicks served as executive producers. The series was produced by Darren Star Productions, HBO Original Programming, and Warner Bros. Television. Sarah Jessica Parker portrays the lead character Carrie Bradshaw, while Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon played her best friends Samantha Jones, Charlotte York, and Miranda Hobbes.


  1. (November 12, 2004) Author Interview: Kem Nunn Archived 2008-08-20 at the Wayback Machine , Retrieved November 16, 2006.
  2. (Myers, Nathan) On The Set: John from Cincinnati Archived 2020-11-15 at the Wayback Machine , Retrieved March 28, 2007.
  3. Nielsen Media News, 14 August 2007
  4. Uncredited, Say goodbye to "John from Cincinnati" Archived 2020-11-15 at the Wayback Machine ; The Hollywood Reporter via Retrieved 2014-08-02.
  5. "John from Cincinnati DVD news: Delay for John From Cincinnati". Archived from the original on 2008-01-09.CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. "John from Cincinnati rental page". Tesco DVD Rental. Archived from the original on 2011-02-02.