HBO (ended 2005)





Carnivale Fan Reviews (104)

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out of 10
2,462 votes
  • A plea for good tv.

    This was easly the best show on TV. We need more shows like this. If you're interested in the campaign, head over to It wouldn't hurt to join the yahoo carnivale hbo group either. It isn't too late - let's let the people in charge know how much we need this show!
  • During the 1930s Ben Hawkins is picked up by a traveling canivale after his mother passes away. He travels with them only to find out that they know more about him and his healing ability then even he does.

    a great depiction of what the 1930s were like. i don't normally watch HBO or any of its shows but Im very much glad i have had the pleasure of watching this one. 2 different stories that slowly come together. i have seen many movies and TV shows, and in my opinion this is right at the top with the best of the best. i really liked the casting for the show as well the story. this show just draws you in and gets your attention with its strange atmosphere of the carnie world as well as the church. i highly recommend it.
  • Highly advisable. A great mythological/historical show. The best, probably.

    I watched this show due to someone's advice and I wasn't disappointed.

    Its mythology and overall story was brilliant, the photography was fantastic, costumes and make-up equally great, the characters and actors portraying them were pretty damned good... and I think HBO should have allowed it to be completed as the creator imagined it, if nothing else, because it was such a well made piece of art... ars gratia arsis.

    HBO disagreed and I will hate them for that always. Not like they care, but I still will.

    If by any (small) chance you're deciding whether to watch it or not and you think my opinion counts, then do watch it. Really.
  • Good vs. evil, a mystery, a historical drama that's pure Americana, with some sex and nudity thrown in. They don't come any better - what was HBO thinking when they cancelled this show?

    This show is unique. A multi-layered mystery playing good vs. evil, it is full of images that will haunt you forever. (Who can forget Dora Mae at the window in Babylon?)

    Good and evil, in the form of "avatars" - one man in each generation to represent the right and left hand of God - battling each other down through the ages, until the long struggle culminates in the end of the age of avatars, in a travelling carnival in America's 1930's dustbowl.

    The music will haunt you, too. And a script that winds over and around itself, foreshadowing and repeating themes until we catch on. And there's sex and passion - between adults, not Barbie and Ken look-alikes. And love, hate - well you get the idea.

    Then HBO cancelled it one third of the way through! Are they nuts?
  • Loved it but....

    There was really nothing to complain about this show when it played. My only complaint was that it didn't keep going.
  • My friend lent me season 1 of this show, and I was quite reluctant to watch it. It sat in my living room for almost a month. Then one night I was bored and put in the first episode. Now, one week later, I have watched both full seasons!

    Carnivale may very well be the best television series I have EVER watched. As I said, I was quite ambivalent about throwing in the first episode, but after that, I was HOOKED! The sets, the casting, the performances, all top notch. What really captures you though, is the storyline. Hands down it is one of the most compelling, intense stories I have ever witnessed. The mythology, the battle betweeen good and evil, and the twists and turns you run into along the way are all thought provoking, brilliantly written, and addictive. Honestly, I've read a lot about how it was too "out of the box" for general audiences or that the story threads were "far too complex" for the average viewer. However, I would have to disagree with all of that, this show and it's plots are easily accessible to the "average viewer." This show had one downfall and one downfall ONLY, and it had nothing to do with ANYTHING in the production. The failure of this show was in the marketing. I'd heard of it for years and even remember seeing trailers on HBO for it. However, the advertising never even came close to making me want to watch the show. If anything, it made me write it off as something to be avoided. However, as soon as I began watching, I was hooked. As I said, I went through all the episodes in the span of a week, I just couldn't stop watching.
    That's the tragedy of this show. One of the greatest shows of all time in my opinion, fails to get an audience, and I truly do believe it was due to poor marketing. Anyone that's thinking of watching the two available seasons, I would highly recommend you do so. The only thing that will disappoint you about the series is that it didn't have a chance to continue and tell it's entire story.
  • If you're here, you know the story... so far...

    Gripping, disturbing, addictive.
    Stellar cast, outstanding performances.
    Riveting imagery, tangible sets.
    Colorful and entertaining, yet delves into the darker side of the human condition.
    Imaginative, new, yet hauntingly familiar.
    Award winning, loved by fan(atic)s.
    The kind of quality you'd expect at the movie theatre.

    Some might say this is the recipe for a program destined to become a classic.


    Destined for the dustbin?

  • CARNIVALE follows a traveling carnival as it wends its way across the Dust Bowl, focusing on Ben Hawkins, a mysterious 18-year-old fugitive with hidden talents who is taken in by the carnival, and Brother Justin, the charismatic, shadowy evangelist who wi

    carnivale is pure genius starting from the opening theme-a favourite-,the creator , the cast , the directing till the make up. if you are gonna watch it u should be prepared for a full dose of drama ,history, action and mystery . u should be also prepared to be furious at the end because there is no more carnivale.
    absolutely worth watching

  • Carnivale is/was the best show on TV. Please bring it back!!!!!

    HBO should have never cancelled this show. It is the most amazing show I've seen. everything about Carnivale is incredible, the music, the art and costumes, even the credits, and especially the writing and acting! It is everything HBO claims to be, thought-provoking, groundbreaking....etc. With out this show HBO lost a lot of that. I hope that the story will be told in a form that will do it justice. I can't wait to know what happens, since we were left in such a cliffhanger...oh wait I forgot, that was a "natural ending". This show needs to be given another chance with better promotion(which is not much)!
  • The supernatural show that can connect to just about everyone.

    This show is absolutely wonderful. What was HBO thinking when they axed it? The show revolves around a guy named Ben Hawkins, and his life after joining a traveling carnival, Carnivale, after his mother dies. The show takes place in the 1930's, during the dust bowl, and the great depression. The Carnivale has many "freaks" who you can't help but love and hate at the same time. Theres everything from the bearded lady-to the snake charmer. While they go from town to down, Ben learns more and more about his father, Scudder. We also see the life of a priest in California, Brother Justin, who is less then holy. The show makes you wonder more and more with every episode. If you love a show that will make you think, and keep you guessing, then this is the one for you!
  • Carnivàle was the most interesting thing on TV at the time, so what do they do? Cancel it, of course.

    The first season of Carnivàle was groundbreaking, breathtaking, and completely impossible not to watch with your eyes glued to the screen. They teased us, we wanted more - everyone wanted to solve the mysteries. Well, all well so far. I do think season two ended on a very anticlimactic low-note, and if I had my wish I'd want them to reshoot the finale, and move on to a third season. Alas, it was not to be. For shame.
  • Some of the best television ever made

    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.
  • This show has a wonderful cast with a wide array of characters that leaves you wanting more up until the very last episode. This show is extremely unique and its sad to think that there is no other show like it.

    This is one of my favorite shows of all time. I also had the unfortunate luck of finding out about this show well after it had been canceled. When I finished the first two seasons and knew there was no more I felt like I wanted to cry. So many questions were left unanswered. I'm sure if they ever brought this show back they would see a considerable rise in new viewers as many people I talked to also started watching after it was canceled. It's so sad to think that a show with terrific acting, a highly addictive story, and of all around high quality could fall into the abyss as it did. We can only hope that a mini-series develops from this story but with HBO clinging to the rights and the actors all in different areas now it appears unlikely.
  • One of the most original and entertaining series i've ever watched

    I have fell in love with HBO produced TV. this is one of the best .Its just a shame it finished early and without a final episode that wrapped up the series neatly. Non the less its definately worth the watch. The characters in this show are amazing and the story is brilliant. After finishing the final episode i spent hours on the internet looking for more. Like a junkie i need more! But unfortunately all the good tv shows are expensive to produce and usually discovered as remarkably brilliant shows long after they have been cancelled. But if your looking for something else after watching Carnivale i suggest The Wire or Deadwood.
  • This is THE BEST show in tv history!!!

    This is THE BEST show in tv history!!!It is even beter than most (all) movie. Not only is the story fabulous but it is artisticly perfect and the cinamatography is magnificently done (hope i'll get just as good!!!). There will never be a show like it ever again, and the cancelation is extremly unfaire and upseting for us carnie fans. If there is any justice in the world they (HBO) will bring back Canivale for a decent finale at the very least.
  • Bring Carnivale back...

    I had never missed an episode when they had this show on the they need to bring it back... This is another show that tells you about our US History. It was taken place back in the depression when money was very tight and that. Now I have done my background history on the old Carnivales and this show does show what it was like for them back in the older days of our grandparents and maybe for our parents (depends on there age)... Just think if the Carnivales were still like this would be different that is for sure. :)
  • Carnivale is one the greast shows that ever aired and was by far before its time.

    Carnivale. One of the greatest shows that was ahead of its time by far is the most fascinating show ever.
    Historic religion, freaks, and awkward blood lines kept my attention pretty quick on the show but it is one of them shows where is you miss one second of it then you missed everything. It took me three times at least to watch season one to fully understand the meanings in the show.
    The cast play there characters great I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing these people.
    The battle between brother Justin and Ben was just so shocking to watch and to see that it didn’t end with brother Justin being completely dead at the end of season two made me so shocked. I want a season three so badly! I wish another program would pick up the show where it left off or at least make a movie.
    I need more than this.
  • Best show I have EVER seen.

    Too bad I picked it up on DVD on a whim, cause I don't have HBO. But if they brought it back for a season 3, I would get HBO in a heartbeat!

    Great characters, the fact that there is grey area is amazing. There are things to love and things to hate about ever character. The story is amazing and subplots dont feel like cheat fill. EVERYTHING MEANS SOMETHING!

    This will be called "ahead of its time". People just are not ready to be involved and think about good programs. We want to see crap like Desperate Housewives and the Real World. God save us all!

    But in these desperate times, let us not forget, What Would Brother Justin Do?
  • Carnivale is by far the most intellectually unique show i have ever watched.

    Carnivale is by far the most intellectually unique show i have ever watched. I have never been faithful to a show. The mindless TV in this era, is beyond disppointing. I never missed a show of Carnivale, Please bring it back. D. Knauf is truly a creative genious, thank you for stimulating our minds with your beautiful/terrifying show.

    Acting: 10
    Writing: 10
    Directing: 10
    HBO: 0
  • Bring it back!

    Why did HBO ever cancel this show? This is the best show that I have ever seen on television. The characters are amazing. This show grabs you from the first five minutes and leaves you wanting more. Classic battle of good versus evil. There are so many things that are involved in this show. So many perfect hidden clues that I have spent hours thinking about and discussing with my fellow fans of the show. Everyone that I have convinced to watch the show has ended up as addicted to it as I am. HBO you made a HUGE mistake in cancelling this amazing show. BRING IT BACK!
  • One of the greatest tv shows ever.

    Wonderful show, bring it back! Isn't there room for some thought provoking television somewhere? We need more TV like this. I feel HBO let it go because most people didn't understand it. I feel Sci-fi always has to overcome the nay sayers. The writing, acting, and special effects were outstanding on this show. Yet it was passed over at the Emmys? Other TV pales next to it. After it was cancelled I tried to watch "Lost" to consoul myself. I couldn't believe how much of a higher standard Carnival had.
  • Bring back TV's treasure.

    Here's ten things you can do to help get my favorite show back on the air.

    1. Send a telegram, letter, or email to HBO and voice your opinion!
    2. Cancel your subscription to the network and let your cable company know why!

    3. Buy a copy of the Season 1 DVD and have a viewing party for those who haven’t seen the show!

    4. Join our discussion group and visit our website to share your ideas and resources!

    5. Contact local news companies and printed press and let them know about the campaign!

    6. Email TV and Entertainment Critics!

    7. Buy Save Carnivàle merchandise and wear it proudly!

    8. Download our flyer and use it to reach out to other fans!

    9. Vote on surveys and polls online requesting the show’s return!

    10. Donate a copy of the Season 1 DVDs to your local library!
  • Carnivale was an immense biblical epic that could have been the greatest work of art ever if it had gotten to finish its story.

    Carnivale was an immense biblical epic that could have been the greatest work of art ever if it had gotten to finish its story. The large complicated story arcs and countless breathtaking, haunting moments will never be forgotten. It is so sad that the HBO network just dropped this show that was supposed to go on for six long seasons after only two. So many of the wonderfully fascinating mysteries of the show were left unsolved because of lack of patience and understanding. Seeing something of this quality just makes me more ashamed of the award shows that give out high praise to such crap. The creator Daniel Knauf and the engaging cast went totally unnoticed. People like Clancy Brown and Michael J. Anderson were finally given the attention they deserved as actors in Carnivale. I can only hope that someday in the future it will finally be embraced by more people the way it should've been.
  • A Carnival in a special, magical time not too long ago..

    Amazing, simply amazing show. Brutal, wicked, magical authentic and honest. I cannot believe the cancelled this work of art so soon. I admire the writers and everyone involved so much.

    I initially crossed over from BSG, because I knew they had the same writers, and what a pleasant surprise.
    I understand now why a show about a travelling carnival in the dust bowl of the thirties could work so well. You become enraptured in a really special way from watching it, it truly is it's own universe. And a universe where anything is possible, where good and evil combat in the eternal struggle.

    Cannot recommend it enough, especially if you liked Twin Peaks and the X-files.
  • Original show got the usual HBO ending cancelled.

    This is in my opinion one of the most if not the most original show of all time. It had an erie feeling it was full of wonder. At the begining everything was a mysterey then things started unfolding. THe first seaon was a little slow but once the second season started it really got going. I like Samson the midget manager. Clancy Brown as the evil preacher was great. He was evil, a rapist and made you hate him because he was a preacher. The last two episodes were great. I waited for the third season but it never came. It only lastted two seasons because of HBO. Just like deadwood it got cancelled. I liked it more than the Sopranos and Deadwood. On HBO anything can get cancelled.
  • Carnivale blew me away!

    Just wanted to say this was a great show!! I loved everything about it except the fact HBO cancelled it
  • A fabulous show about the constant battle between: good and evil, light and darkness, black and white, ying and yang. Who's going to win at the end... we will never know thanks to HBO.

    Set in the 1930s Dust Bowl, a traveling Carnival finds Ben Hawkins and not by chance, but because the mysterious Management led them. He represents the creature of light.
    On the other hand we have Brother Justin Crowe with the help of his sister Iris, preaching his beliefs tries to gain followers. He represents the creature of dark.
    They don't know it but they are destined to battle in a biblical fight. They have to find and kill the person that will give them the power, Ben Hawkins has to kill Belyakov and Brother Justin to Scudder respectively.
    Great sets, wonderful costumes, creates the atmosphere of the time, and takes you to a awesome trip full of magic and mystery. Very well done, engaging and intriguing.
  • I must say that this is one of the greatest shows I've seen in my life. It has a twisted, thrillercomedy-feeling that reminds me of the best of David Lynch's works, superb to say the least.

    I have watched this show over and over again, and I must say that few shows catch me even a second time. It has a twisted thrillercomedy-feeling that should be intriguing for most, especially David Lynch-fans.

    Nick Stahl's interpretation of Ben Hawkins is great, but even greater is Michael J. Anderson's roleplaying as Samson. Anderson is mostly recognised for his role as the wierd dwarf in Twin Peaks, but I must say that his performance in Carnivale is far greater. A third actor worthly to be mentioned is Clancy Brown. He plays a wierd priest named brother Justin, and if Stahl is the hero of this show, Brown is surely the antihero.

    However, I think this is one of HBO's finest productions, and thereby one of the greatest ever produced.
  • We need new season asap!

    I was visiting hbo site and noticed this show carnivale. I thought that this must be the most boring and stupid show about a circus... Then i have accidentaly seen it on tv, the first episode of season one. And i was wrong to judge it by title, this show is one of the best shows that i have seen in a long time! Great scenario, great characters, great plot, great carnivale! Classic battle between good and evil, where good doesnt have to be represented in a priest role. And when you add to everything supernatural powers, great acting, it is time great spend that none will ever regreat.
  • Completely hooked and want to see more. A very creative show. I beg to see more.

    A unique and very entertaining show, with an exceptional story premisis. Never before have I seen anything even remotely as intriguing.
    I really like the confusion. When watching a show I immediately try to figure out what is going to happen next or figure out each character's angle before the end of a series. But with this show nothing is as it seems. It has kept me on the edge of my seat wanting more. I like the intricacy of the story line and watching it slowly unfold.
    I think that it is definitely in its time just not enough attention was given to the series.
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