In a time of titanic sandstorms, vile plagues, drought
and pestilence - signs of God's fury and harbingers of the
Apocalypse - the final conflict between good and evil is about
to begin. The battle will take place in the heartland of an
empire called America, where a travelling carnival harbouring
Ben Hawkins, a troubled healer, will clash with an Evangelical
ministry led by Brother Justin Crowe. And when it is over,
man will forever trade away wonders for reason...
least that's what the blurb on the back of the DVD slipcase
claims this series is about. In reality, this is the build
up to those events. And boy is it a slow process getting there.
not to say that I didn't enjoy the first season of Carnivāle.
It has a hell of a lot going for it. It's just that at times
it's like pulling teeth out of a dead horse's mouth and I
can imagine a lot of people, watching this on a weekly basis,
getting fed up and tuning out after a few episodes. This is
a shame, because underneath all the filling is a damn fine
story bursting to get out.
are plenty of Millennium and Buffy style shows
where the forces of good and evil battle it out in an apocalyptic
style. But this is the first time that a TV show has set the
Apocalypse in the past - 1934 to be exact. I loved the way
they use the depression and the rise of evil (Hitler, the
KKK etc) as the backdrop to Biblical predictions.
Hawkins has a gift that allows him to heal and Brother Justin
Crowe is a man of the cloth who can't believe how society
is crumbling around him. Both men share a common set of dreams
about events to come. And all indications are that one of
them is here to do Satan's bidding, while the other is working
for God. However, neither of them know this, nor whether they
are on the side of good or evil - and neither does the audience.
Brown is an inspired choice to play Brother Crowe. Brown has
made a career as the villain of the piece so our instant reaction
is that Brother Crowe is evil, but is he? I'll leave that
for you to discover... maybe - the conclusion to this first
season is a little ambiguous. Although there are enough clues
to work out who you thing is working for which side. But then
again it is still not totally clear.
it is Michael
J. Anderson (who Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fans may
remember as Rumpelstiltskin in the episode If Wishes Were
Horses) who is the real star of this show. Sadly though,
towards the last few episodes the writers start to use Anderson
less and less as the head of the Carnival and more as a man
who has a few small piece of information to impart to Hawkins.
I don't know what was going on towards the end of this season,
but for some reason we had to have at least one of the following
in each episode: a pair of naked breasts, a graphic sex scene,
a lesbian scene, a full frontal nudity scene or a shock relationship
scene (love between a young man and a woman twice his age,
incest between a brother and sister and a lesbian affair -
in fact the only thing we didn't have was a group orgy with
the Siamese twins, the bearded lady and the lizard man. I'm
sure that they are just saving that for season two.
couldn't understand why the lengths of the episodes varied
between 45 minutes and 55 minutes. This seemed a little strange
as American shows tend to stick to their one hour of screen
time (take out the ads and you're left with your standard
think a lot of people may also feel short changed by this
release. Firstly the only extras are a 12 minute featurette
on the making of the show and three audio commentaries. And,
for some reason I still can't fathom (oh, maybe it's to squeeze
more cash out of the fans) they have stuck this out as a six
disc collection. As there were only 12 episodes, that works
out (quick get out the calculator) at just two episodes a
moans aside, I really did find this series enjoyable. Sure
it's slow and going nowhere fast plot is a pain sometimes,
but there are a lot of b-plot story lines bubbling under the
surface. Not only that, but it really is a show that you need
to watch again once you've sat through it once - and it never
patronises the audience.
a good job that a second season is on the cards (due to start
broadcasting in America in January 2005), because if this
series had been cancelled I really wouldn't recommend you
bother watching this first season. It acts as a good build
up to what, hopefully, will be better things to come. But
the end of the last episode is a bit of an anticlimax.
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