Monday, 18 April 2011

Carnivàle - HBO series

I came to this series purely by chance after checking out a box set sale last January. I had never heard of it before, but I am sure glad that I did. 

I think this is possibly my favourite opening title to a show ever. I love the way that it dives into  the pictures on the Tarot cards and out again, linking in with footage from our collective social history.

Set to the backdrop of The Great Depression and life in the Dustbowl of America  -  it ticked all the boxes for me.  I am fascinated by circus/carnival history. The whole "travelling show" community intrigue me.

Samson played by Michael J. Anderson 

And this show does not disappoint. Not once did I want to do anything other than applaud the fantastic writing, setting, acting, music and costume.

Sofie played by Clea DeVall

That said, this is not, I feel, for the faint hearted. There is an incredibly dark, supernatural element to this show, which I personally loved about it. Alongside that it is fairly adult in content. More applause from me!

Ben played by Nick Stahl

It is not a scary show, not at all. It is deep rooted and well researched. Personally, on looking further into it, I think the writer Daniel Knauf, is a genius. The inter-connection of his characters is flawless. 

Carla Gallow as Libby, Cynthia Ettinger as Rita-Sue and Toby Huss as Felix

I think, by far, I love the cooch side to the show. I am not a pervert, honest.. I loved the dynamic of this family who are selling their souls, but have, what they feel are moral boundaries.

Adrienne Barbeau as Ruthie

The way life on the road is conveyed in this show is second to none. It gave me a real sense of what running away to the circus would have really of been like.

Lila played by Debra Christofferson

Carnivàle contains all the things you would expect a circus of the time to have -  from a psychic to a Bearded Lady -  and I found myself longing to know more about each one of them. I could not help but fall a little bit in love with each of them.

Jonsey played by Tim DeKay

But, as mentioned before, there is a dark element to this show which, although the main focus and narrative, it does not steal away from the character development of others.
Brother Justin played by Clancy Brown

Clancy Brown is fantastic as Brother Justin and the relationship between him and his sister is a little alarming but believeable. The placement of these characters illustrates the parallel between the haves and have not's.


Iris played by Amy Madigan

My favourite character though has to be Rita-Sue, followed a close second by Ruthie. I think Rita-Sue embodies of the era, a sense of desperation and false control. But she paints her face and gets on with it for the sake of her family.

Carnivàle regrettably only lasted 2 seasons, but do not let this put you off from giving it a go. It does not cut off and leave you uncomfortably hanging -  but it does leave you wanting more.

Alas, this is all there is people -  but it is well worth a watch.

A ringside seat 9/10 from me!


  1. Sounds excellent- did you get it on DVD, of so where?

  2. Hey Perdita - I got the complete on I think - new and used was only about £15 at the time. Also on Amazon :)

  3. Ooh I hadn't even heard of it before. Looks like just my kind of thing, thanks for the recc xx

  4. I have this on DVD! It's an amazing show isn't it! I'm a fool for anything circus/carnival related so when I came across this last year I had to buy it straight away! I love the story line and the macabre-ness of it all. I wish more television series were like this! xx

  5. I've just spotted this review - I bought this for my brother for his birthday last month and promptly borrowed it back from him as I thought it looked right up my street! Can't wait to watch it now :)
    Abby x


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