'Carnivale' The Complete First Season
Toronto Star (December 16 2004)
"If It's Good Television, It Won't Last"
DUST, DEATH & DEPRESSION: There's an ill
wind blowing in the dustbowl, and it's sooo
good. HBO's Carnivale, the first season of which
is now available on DVD got kinda lukewarm reviews.
Tsk, tsk, I say. It's damn good storytelling,
something that's in short supply these days.
Throw in some old-time fire-and-brimstone religion,
dwarves and bearded ladies, Apocalyptic signs
wherever you look and strippers who haven't
had their boobs done, and you're in for a treat.
Three episodes have thoughtful
commentary; unfortunately the making-of featurette
is a disappointment. Twelve minutes is far from
enough to get a sense of how, what may be the
best-looking television show ever produced,
is made. When the costume designer says she
had to clothe close to 5,000 actors and extras
in Depression-era costumes, we want to know
how that was accomplished; we also want to know
how in the world they managed to make the travelling
carnival look so real. And more info on the
fabulousness of the soundtrack, which uses everything
from period folk music through opera and Weill,
would be great too. Maybe next season.
Another (minor) quibble
is the fact that there's no play-all function,
which means you have to go through an episode
description before playing each episode and
that kinda sucks, if, you know, you don't want
to know what's happening. But never mind - you
should still get this set; as someone says on
the commentary, you need to watch this show
more than once to fully grasp what is going