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DVD: 'Carnivale' The Complete First Season
by Hock Guan Teh, DVD Town (December 1, 2004)

"There’s rules. You give life, you gotta take it from somewhere else."

Trust HBO to come up with an original series like "Carnivàle", which has been described as "Grapes of Wrath" meets "Twin Peaks" with a little bit of "Big Fish" added in for good measure. In an idiosyncratic show that just gets weirder and more fascinating with each passing episode, "Carnivàle" is able to take a stranglehold to its audience and hold their rapt attention by cleverly revealing only bits and pieces of its truly mysterious plot each time; just enough to pique an interest in its audience and encourage them to return week after week.

While the regular networks are concentrating their efforts on creating ‘procedural’ crime and medical shows ("CSI" and "Medical Investigations") that offer stories that usually wrap up in one episode, HBO is already an old hand at serials--shows that deftly develop its characters and story throughout an entire season. Literally, these are the shows that seem to consume its audience for months at a time, prodding them to follow each episode religiously, in case, God forbid, they happen to miss something that is discussed at the water cooler the next morning. With the exception of ABC, which debut two successful serials, "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives", this current television season, no other major networks have had as much success at serials as HBO. Now you can safely add "Carnivàle" to the pay cable channel’s illustrious list of great drama series. How can one ever go wrong with a channel that produces and broadcasts supreme dramas like "The Sopranos", "Six Feet Under", "The Wire" and the soon-to-be-released-on-DVD Western drama "Deadwood"? Like "Carnivàle", HBO’s hot streak seems like pure magic.

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