HBO recently issued a letter of apology to fans of producer David Milch's canceled series Deadwood and John From Cincinnati. The letter, which was scanned and posted in full on SaveDeadwood.net, is undoubtedly regretful and conciliatory, but its explanations for the show's demise is thick with careful turns of phrase that shy away from providing the sort of candid details that would allow fans to pin blame on anyone in particular. Lucky for you, we've pulled out our PR Flack–to–English dictionaries and have translated several key passages for your convenience.
HBO says: It is obviously not our intention to brainstorm strategies guaranteed to alienate dedicated viewers or to sabotage programs produced and promoted at great expense and with great effort, particularly when they are turned out by a talent of David Milch's caliber.
Translation: In fairness, we did sit down with Mr. Milch and specifically request that John From Cincinnati include at least one graphic depiction of a man ejaculating, but we respected his vision when he opted to keep going with all that surfing business.
HBO says: True, HBO is not in the ratings business, and it has never been our aim — nor is it today — to try to attract the largest possible audience.
Translation: Dude, we are currently airing a show that regularly includes interminable and quite explicit scenes of naked elderly people having sex. Our commitment to airing uncomfortable, off-putting television programming should not be called into question.
HBO says: At the same time, each show on the service has to justify its existence since money spent on one show means money unavailable for something else.
Translation: Deadwood and John From Cincinnati cost us so much scratch that it forced us to green-light a series that has all the production values of a mid-budget porno. If we did another season of either, we'd have to resort to editing shows out of public-domain footage found on YouTube.
HBO says: Still, for whatever reason, from the start John did not click with either the audience or reviewers, and continued to lose traction throughout its season … We saw not reason to invest the time, effort, and expense of continuing a series which — as much as we'd hoped otherwise — showed no indications of turning its situation around.
Translation: Seriously, bro — John From Cincinnati was so mind-numbingly dull that it somehow makes that show about the affluent white people complaining endlessly about not getting enough sex seem thrilling and insightful in comparison. We can't tell you that the show sucked officially, but please take the hint.
HBO says: Undoubtedly, Mr. Milch was as disappointed with the cancellation as we were, but it should stand as some kind of testament about his faith in our standards and the way we operate that he chooses to continue to develop programming with us.
Translation: You know how that really annoying married couple on Tell Me You Love Me stays together despite a fundamental lack of chemistry? Our relationship with Milch is a bit like that, but with a lot more gratuitous profanity. —Matthew Perpetua
HBO's Side of the Story [SaveDeadwood.net]