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DVD: 'Carnivale' The Complete First Season
by Mark Dancer, Upcoming Discs (January 2005)

To put it succinctly, HBO has done it again. The network simply has no fear. It prides itself on bringing groundbreaking programming to the masses, laughing in the face of such cookie-cutter faire as American Idol and Two And A Half Men. First there was Sex and the City, then the behemoth that is The Soprano's, and now we have Carnivale.

I love TV shows that feel they don't have to explain themselves, and this series is certainly that. Think "David Lynch vs. the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow". The setting of the series is a traveling carnival in the dust bowl of the 1930's. The plot is, well... let's just say that magic, the battle between good and evil, and giving people with no hope something to believe in are all involved, though none of that quite fits. Like I said before, it's HBO. You just have to see it to believe it.

This is brilliant storytelling, with first-class special effects and a the feel of an Oscar-winning feature film. The show is great on television, but it's actually better on DVD. This is not an episodic television program as much as it is a really long film. Since it has been created for a premium network, there are no commercial breaks built in. Each hour-long segment adds one more piece to the strange and twisted puzzle, which works to add suspense and wonder to the story as a whole.

This boxed set is pricey, but it is well worth it. If you are looking for something more than the typical network show that has been dumbed down to appeal to a mass audience, look no further than Carnivale.

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