Carnivale 2 Seasons 2003

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Season 1
Available on Prime
(1,713) IMDb 7.7/10
Available in HDAvailable on Prime

1. Milfay TV-MA CC

In the pilot episode of this one-hour drama series, 18-year-old Ben Hawkins (Nick Stahl) is taken in by a traveling carnival and begins to display mysterious powers. Meanwhile, a preacher begins to have a similar experience.

Starring:
Michael J. Anderson, Nick Stahl
Runtime:
58 minutes
Original air date:
September 14, 2003

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Season 1
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Customer Reviews

Great characters are acted very well by the entire cast.
RC Smith
A captivating story of good and evil with plenty of twists and turns to keep it interesting and convincing characters.
housewitch
This is a powerful show, simply watch one episode and you WILL be hooked.
J.J.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

345 of 367 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 19, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Carnivàle" is part of small but growing number of quality television shows that are committed to the sort of lengthy and complex story arc that was once the province of the mini-series. But shows like "Wiseguy" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in the past and current offerings such as "24" and "Lost" have paved the way for television shows that emphasize the big picture rather than the more traditional episodic approach. As such, "Carnivàle" is most similar to "Lost," in that we are pretty sure we know what will happen at the end of the journey, but we have no idea how many seasons down the road that end game will be played out. Does creator Daniel Knauf ("Wolf Lake") have an ambitious five-year plan similar to what J. Michael Straczynski had in mind from the start for "Babylon 5"? We will have to wait and see.

With a show like "Carnivàle" it is easy (and fun) to play with various antecedents that explain the series in simple but readily understood terms. From the start I was thinking of the show as a cross between John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath," Tod Browning's "Freaks," and Stephen King's "The Stand," all of which I consider to be classics in their respective genres. But there are other options as well (with Michael J. Anderson in the cast "Twin Peaks" becomes an obvious choice), which simply speaks to the potential of "Carnivàle" to resonate with its viewers.

The premise of the show is provided as the opening narration: "Before the beginning, after the great war between Heaven and Hell, God created the Earth and gave dominion over it to the crafty ape he called man. And to each generation was born a creature of light and a creature of darkness. And great armies clashed by night in the ancient war between good and evil.
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52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Berg on December 28, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In a short period of time, "Carnivale" has grown into my favorite television show. Structured like a dense, epic novel, the production values are sumptuous, the acting uniformly ingenious, and the central mysteries complex and involving. The series, ostensibly about the final battle between good and evil, as wonder gives way to reason, is so firmly rooted in a three-dimensional, realistic world with three-dimensional realistic characters that I would classify it as more magical realism than science-fiction or fantasy. The characters drive the plot, rather than the other way around, which is a difficult feat to accomplish in such a complex narrative that includes shadowy symbolism and prophetic dreams. There have been complaints that the first season did not wrap up any loose ends, but why should it? Season 1 is but the prologue to this novel-for-television, and narratives are never concluded in the prologue. Be forewarned, though, if you are looking for a television show that does not tax your intellectual muscles and does not ask you to do some work to understand it, this is not the show for you. If, on the the other hand, you are looking for a show that is fascinating, multi-layered (the symbolism alone could be discussed for hours), and intellectually stimulating, with fantastical situations that still manages to maintain a strong verisimilitude of character and the time period in which it occurs (1934, the Great Depression, in the Dust Bowl), I would urge you to watch this DVD set immediately, so you can be caught up for the second season, which premieres January 9th. The video quality of this DVD set, by the way, is among the finest I have ever seen. I would rank it up there with "The Lord of the Rings" Extended Edition sets for a near-perfect picture.
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65 of 72 people found the following review helpful By E. W. Mark on October 15, 2004
Format: DVD
Some may complain that "Carnivale" leaves too many loose ends. I would argue that these people are entirely missing the show's point. If you are the sort of person who likes things to be wrapped up all neat with a little bow, turn back now... Otherwise sit back, and let the pure magic of this show suck you in.

"Carnivale" has a plot that begs to be questioned, mysteries waiting to be theorized upon, and characters that you will truly love (or love to hate). It is a show you can discuss for hours on end. The joy of it is not discovering the answers through the plot itself, but by your own deduction.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Loring Knowles on October 27, 2005
Format: DVD
Sometimes a show comes along and is so complete, so visionary and so challenging that it never gets the audience it deserves. That is what has happened to Carnivale. The show seemed to drop out of the sky fully formed and blow away those ready to immerse themselves in the show's considerable depths. Sometimes this seems less like a TV show and more like a very, very long movie. The acting by Nick Stahl, Clea DuVall, Clancy Brown, Amy Madigan as well as the rest of the absolutely stellar cast is flawless and you are drawn into their world so completely you can smell the pitch and feel the dust in your throat.

Religiously themed shows generally don't do well on TV, especially when they challenge the smug self-satisfaction of the religious establishment. watching Carnivale you can't help but think of current events especially as the demonic Brother Justin builds his own politically-driven megachurch in the California desert. Carnivale shows us what the headlines are finally revealing to the sleep-walking American public- that our media, politicians and religious leaders are corrupt and self-serving and manipulative. Perhaps America wasn't yet ready to hear that message that all of today's prosecutions and scandals are forcing us to confront.

The life of the "carnies" is only a backdrop to the spiritual struggles taking place between those like Justin who use their supernatural power for death and destruction and the accumulation of power and those like Ben Hawkins who resist the lure of worldly power and wealth if it means sacrificing their souls. The scenes where Ben shows his power are so stunningly beautiful and poetic they will leave you breathless. If you are a fan of shows like Lost, the X Files or Twin Peaks, Carnivale is a must for you.
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