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DVD: 'Carnivale' The Complete First Season
by Ken Shallcross, DVD Fanatic (December 2004)

On December 7th, Carnivale rolls into town with the complete first season in a 6-DVD set. One of the latest in original programming from HBO, this incredible drama series takes the classic battle of "good vs. evil" and blows it straight into the Oklahoma dustbowl, circa 1934.

For those unfamiliar with the Carnivale story, here is a synopsis of plot: "...and to each generation is born a creature of light, and a creature of darkness," and thus begins Carnivale. In Oklahoma, 1934, Ben Hawkins (Nick Stahl) loses his mother and his home. While burying his mom, a westward bound Carnivale troupe rolls through town. He decides to join them in hopes of food, money and a career in showbiz. Little does "good" Hawkins know that waiting for him in California is the "evil" Brother Justin Crowe (Clancy Brown). Much of the first season revolves around Hawkins and Crowe slowly discovering they have incredible powers, as the final confrontation between good and evil slowly approaches.

There are a few key elements that contribute to the magnificence of Carnivale, first and foremost being the incredible cast of characters. All of the stereotypical carnies are present in the show: the fortunetellers, snake charmer, bearded lady, "mentalist," reptile man, Siamese twins, the strong man, the mysterious hidden leader, the showgirls and the rousties (carnival workers). But it's the principle characters played by Nick Stahl (Terminator 3, In the Bedroom) and Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption, Highlander) that really stand out and make this show so riveting. The show also stands out due to its award winning costumes, sets, make-up, direction and photography.

The second key element is that of the classic "good v. evil" theme being retold in an entirely new and different way. It's a crazy idea that works so well it's scary.

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