Carnivale 2 Seasons 2003

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Season 1
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(2,647) IMDb 7.7/10

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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361 of 386 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo 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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57 of 58 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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68 of 75 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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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By M. A Hutter on October 6, 2004
Format: DVD
It's surprising how few people I speak to have even heard of Carnivale. HBO has come out with some outstanding series, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, OZ, etc. However, as much as I enjoyed these series, Carnivale, in my opinion, is the best HBO has ever put out! I won't go into detail about each character and episode, but suffice to say that, if you're someone who enjoys the WRITING of Stephen King (not many of the awful films based on his books) this series is for you. While Stephen King is in no way associated with this series, the pacing, the characters, the ambience, the detail, and the plain bizzare nature of his brand of story telling are perfectly represented by Carnivale Season 1. In fact, I have never seen a TV series or film that so accurately re-creates the pacing and detail of a great novel. However, if you are someone who is easily disturbed or just doesn't like tales of the mysterious and bizzare, this may not be for you. If you are someone who hates loose ends and enjoys the plot being laid neatly before you, Carnivale is definately not for you; many, many questions are raised in Season 1 and very, very few are answered. Hoewever, you will find Carnivale Season 1 to be one of the most valuable film purchases you have ever made!
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