HBO (ended 2005)





Carnivale Fan Reviews (104)

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out of 10
2,462 votes
  • A very consistent show with great writing and characterization, that was unfortunately cut down before it could finish unfolding its wonderful story.

    Carnivale was a television series, in the same way that Babylon 5 was a television series. They both had planned out a set number of seasons from the very beginning, dictating which paths their stories would go on and exactly when to end their character arcs. The trouble with planning out these "Books in television format" is that the network might not allow your full dream to come to fruition. While Babylon 5 is an example of a show succeeding in this format, Carnivale is sadly a failed example.

    That is not to say, however, that Carnivale is a failure of a television show. On the contrary, Carnivale was a great series, albeit not one that most viewers are used to. Carnivale moved at a much slower pace than most other shows, but this only showcased the beautiful cinematography and the bleakness of the setting. This show made you really feel like the characters are alive in the 1930s, and it felt very much like a period piece. The acting is also something to be praised. The two leads, Nick Stahl and Clancy Brown, are both fantastic in their portrayals of these deep and morally dubious characters, and the rest of the cast is solid as well. In fact, Carnivale is one of the few television shows where I can honestly say that no one in the cast was a weak link.

    But the mythology of the show was what intrigued me the most about Carnivale. Creator Daniel Knauf took influence from bits and pieces of other fiction and used them to create a somewhat original yet very engaging world of magic and surprise. The story of the Avatars is one I truly wish to see expanded upon, as it is completely ripe with potential for more adventures. Ultimately Carnivale did not bring in enough viewers to justify its massive budget, and was abruptly cancelled in its second season. As a result, the final episodes feel a bit rushed and are not up to par with the rest of the series. Although the series finale is good, it leaves us on such a cliffhanger that it is almost impossible not to be disappointed. I am unsure if we will ever get to see a true conclusion to Carnivale, but I hope against hope that it does happen, because this show is too great to be cast aside.
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