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.