by Sherwin Loh, The Straits Times - Singapore
(October 9, 2004)
The new HBO series Carnivale follows
a group of unusual people in their tussle with
good and evil.
Fans of David Lynch's seminal early 1990s TV
series Twin Peaks might want to take a peek
into HBO's new offering Carnivale.
The newly-minted Emmy-winning
series - about a group of uncanny characters
in a travelling carnival during the American
Dust Bowl era in 1934 - follows the whimsical
and bizarre template of Lynch's cult favourite.
Comprising two parallel
storylines, the first one follows orphan Ben
Hawkins (Nick Stahl), a teenager both blessed
and cursed with the ability to heal and raise
He joins the carnival
out of desperation, not realising its association
with him is anything but incidental.
The other tracks Brother
Justin Crowe (Clancy Brown), a pastor who discovers
unusual abilities that he regards as gifts from
God, even as he tries to live up to them.
'What I love about the
show is its humanity,' says Brown over the phone
in a recent interview.
He is best remembered
as the violent prison guard, Captain Byron Hadley,
in The Shawshank Redemption (1994).
'Are we creatures of
darkness or creatures of light? And I still
don't know the answer to that question.'
But it seems that viewers
are reading into the show's Biblical imagery,
and have decided what they are about on their
Taking the last names
of both lead characters, one interpretation
is that Hawkins (Hawk) is a winged creature
of light, while Crowe (Crow) is spawned from
Such readings, among
many others found on the Internet, are things
series creator Daniel Knauf never expected.
'I'm not a big fan of
sending messages,' explains the writer/director
in another interview.
'I just want to tell
a ripping good story. If people draw inference
and messages from it, that's just a sign of
it reaching people on many different levels.'
A relative unknown in
Hollywood, he scored his biggest success with
1994's Canaan's Way, a HBO feature he wrote.
It starred Armand Assante who played a blind
Carnivale's title was
inspired by Knauf's long-time fear and fascination
with the carnival show.
'It was a stab at irony.
The carnival (in the show) is really a flea
circus. And yet, they have the spunk to add
this European affectation,' he says
And what about the religious
'They stem from the epic
of good and evil, especially when back then,
religion was a fabric of good and evil,' explains
the Catholic-raised individual, who laughs when
asked whether a higher power had told him to
write the show.
'There's a word for people
like that. And that word is 'crazy'.'
Carnivale premieres tomorrow
at 8pm on HBO (StarHub Channel 60).