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DVD: 'Carnivale' The Complete First Season
by DVD (January 2005)


HBO's new series is a mind blower from the start. Set in 1930's dust bowl America, the series stars Nick Stahl as Ben Hawkins and Clancy Browne as an Evangelical Minister. Both have possessed with special powers and will eventually meet but when and were and why we do not know. The superb cast includes Michael J. Anderson (talking backwards dwarf from Twin Peaks), who runs the day to day operations of the carnies for "management", Adrienne Barbeau (Maude) as a snake charmer, Patrick Bauchau as a charming blind mystic, Amy Madigan as the Reverend's sister, and a very talented supporting cast that includes Debra Christofferson, Tim DeKay, Clea DuVall, Toby Huss and Ralph Waite (The Waltons). Guest appearances include John Savage and the voice of Linda Hunt.

Content: The story takes off after Ben's mother refuses to have him help her (he has a talent for touching people and curing them) and the Carnivale comes through. It is no likely occurrence but young Ben doesn't realize that until well later on. The Carnivale takes its orders from "management", a mysterious figure behind a curtain in one trailer. Life with the carnies is strange and weird, as Ben finds out and he'd rather not be with them but he needs them for survival. Sexual advances from just about all the woman in the traveling show is normal, from the bearded lady to the snake charming older woman.

Meanwhile in California, the Rev. Justin has vision from God that tell him to help the poor migrants set up a church in a Chinese whore house. How these two are destined to meet and why are left unknown at the end of Season One but Carnivale is a weird, wonderful mixture that fans of Twin Peaks will enjoy. Characterization is strong in the twelve hours of episodes in this set and you don't know what will happen, as the writers manage to kill off some main characters along the way.

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