Fishing with John ★★★½

Maine with Willem Dafoe

Maybe it's partly because I've always like Dafoe, but this episode rescued the series for me after the disappointing third episode, "Costa Rica with Matt Dillon." As with the other co-fishers, Dafoe has terrific chemistry with Lurie. Ice fishing in Maine frees them from the kinds of distractions that have gotten in the way at times in previous episodes.

It's fun watching Dafoe tease about things like putting together their sleeping bags and lighting up at seeing a red flag on one of their drilled sites. Throughout his career, Dafoe has generally played sourpusses so it's been rare to glimpse this more laid back and even somewhat mischievous side of the guy that has lurked beneath the surface in many of his performances. It's that sense of candor that Fishing with John showcases well, and the reason it's so likable is that the camaraderie on screen is not at all created by celebrity status. These episodes could have just as easily been made with my friends, or with yours. It's authentic and that's why the show is so engaging.