Can HBO replace Tony Soprano with a levitating surfer? How about a hardware salesman with three wives?
Sunday night shortly after 10 (depending on how much pre-"So pranos" padding we get at 9), the pay cable giant enters Year One A.A. (After Anthony) with the debut of "John from Cincinnati," a new surfing drama from "Deadwood" creator David Milch. The next night, "Big Love" begins its second season, as well as HBO's second attempt to colonize Monday primetime. ("Six Feet Under" tried briefly a few years ago and moved back to Sundays within weeks.) Each show is interesting in its own way, but both illustrate the challenge HBO is going to have filling Tony and Paulie's large white shoes.
"The Sopranos" was the perfect ratings storm for HBO: a blend of highbrow and lowbrow, of equal parts male and female appeal, a market researcher's fan tasy project. Come for the whacking and vulgar humor, stay for the relationships and dream analysis!
Neither "John from Cincinnati" nor "Big Love" can offer that. In better times for the channel, when "Sopranos" was younger and "Sex and the City" still existed, there wouldn't be pressure on it to be all things to all people. But come Sunday around 10, HBO's going to need a new flagship, and I don't see either of these dramas being it.
To read the full thing, click here.