Carnivale

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HBO (ended 2005)

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walrus_8463

User Score: 159

Carnivale
8.8
out of 10
User Rating
2,448 votes
103

SHOW REVIEWS
By TV.com Users

Show Summary

Carnivale. The credits alone were the most costly and timely to make. The show does not lack in the quality that the credits bring. Set in the 1930s Dust Bowl, 18-year old Ben Hawkins finds himself all alone in this world when his mother passes on. But a travelling Carnivale takes him in. We also see the story of Brother Justin, a priest who is trying to find his way in the world. Little do Ben and Justin know, but they are to fight in a biblical battle. With help on the side (Ben with the carnie folk (Sofie, Libby, Apollonia, Ruthie, Samson, Lila, Lodz, Management) and Justin with his sister, Iris) they find out which side each are on and try to battle with the other for what they believe.
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Fan Reviews (103)

SUBMIT REVIEW
  • The greatest HBO series ever!

    10
    The only bad thing about this show is that HBO cancelled it. You have to see it for yourself, there's no way to put into words how amazing this show actually is.
  • Carnivale blew me away!

    10
    Just wanted to say this was a great show!! I loved everything about it except the fact HBO cancelled it
  • Some of the best television ever made

    10
    Recommended for anyone with an attention span longer than a guinnea pig. Probably the best show ever made after Twin Peaks. Brother Justin in the second season is beyond words.
  • the operative word is "slowly"

    6.0
    I just finished watching seasons one and two of Carnivale. Overall, I enjoyed the show-- clearly I enjoyed it enough to watch it to the end. I consider myself a member of the target audience: I love the Thirties, and count the television show TWIN PEAKS as well as books like Katherine Dunn's GEEK LOVE and movies like Todd Browning's FREAKS among my all-time favorites. From the outset, everything about Carnivale called my name.



    However, I can see why the show was cancelled. It's gorgeously set with the kind of meticulous attention to detail that made me marvel at what kind of budget it must have had. The period costumes, especially the dresses are to die for-- I wish Carnivale had attained Mad Men's popularity if only because it might have ushered in a revival of Thirties styles.



    That being said, I consider it a weakness of the show that I found my mind wandering distractedly to its art direction and budget because the actual story dragged so frequently. The pace was a real problem. In fact, I suspect that viewers who tuned out weren't so much mystified by the opacity or complexity of the show's mythology so much as frustrated by the writers' Chinese water torture technique of delivering crucial plot points. To use a carny analogy, it was like a striptease stretched out to three hours. By the time you get to the part you paid to see, you hardly care. The writers wasted a lot of opportunities to reveal information in the most dramatically satisfying way in favor of streeeeetching out the mystery and delaying the suspense. As a result, I often found the plot lagging behind my own imagination. The first time Ruthie sees a ghost is a good example. It takes Ruthie several episodes to recognize what I suspect most people in the audience figured out immediately.



    I felt that Diane Salinger and Patrick Buchau were both wasted in their roles. I couldn't believe Apollonia's character was really destined to lie in bed for an entire season and then die. Lodz stole every scene that included him, but was condemned to spend most of his screen time not doing his thing and being a mentalist, but reiterating the same plea over and over (and over) again for Ben to listen to what he had to say. I sure wanted to know what Lodz had to say and I bet it would have made a thrilling scene if the writers had decided to include it instead of prolonging the mystery by getting rid of Lodz before anyone in the audience knows much about him or what he wants. Likewise, in the interest of maintaining mystery, the writers present us with a main character, Ben, with little personality except for being gruff, stubborn and secretive. It was difficult to relate to Ben or understand why some of the other characters were so drawn to him. Clancy Brown, reprising his role as the Kurgen in HIGHLANDER, was effective as Brother Justin, if only because he was designed as an ambiguous character rather than a total cipher. All of the actors did a great job portraying characters who seemed potentially intriguing even if many of them were held back.



    Some people commented that the second half of season two felt rushed. I would agree, but I felt as though the pace of season two came much closer to approximating a rhythm that would have held the interest of more viewers, had it been applied to season one.moreless
  • now they`ve duped US!

    8.0
    have enjoyed watching the great depth and mystery of the first series and am looking forward to watching the second BUT have had my enthusiasm dampened by what I have read on here .I am to be disappointed as were the rest of you. these people would have been lynched back in the DustBowl Era!!

    Worcestershire, .
  • WATCHING THROUGH OUR FINGERS

    10 of TV's Scariest Shows

    Here are 10 shows that people lost sleep over, along with the most frightening episodes that terrified us the most.

  • THE SECOND SEASON OF CARNIVALE IS A FAVORITE THAT TOPS THIS WEEK FOR MOST, BUT WITH TONS OF FAMILY-FRIENDLY RELEASES OUT, WE'RE SURE EVERYONE WILL FIND A GOOD REASON TO GATHER AROUND THE TELEVISION. HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, AMAZING STORIES, AND THE PRETENDER.

    July 18, 2006 DVD Releases

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    More Info About This Show

    Categories

    Drama, Fantasy, Suspense

    Themes

    Paranormal, back from the dead, flashbacks, Love & Romance, good vs. evil