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The Watercooler: 'Carnivale'
by Danny Spiegel, (January 10, 2005)

I watched the second-season premiere of this engrossing, Depression-era series with a buddy of mine who summed it this way: "Man, the '30s sucked." Oh yes, they certainly did. And what must've sucked even more was if you tried to watch this show without revisiting the finale that aired on HBO more than a year ago. Psychic/catatonic Apollonia has apparently gone up in flames (for actress Diane Salinger, either the sweetest or lamest acting job in all of television); Ruthie is alive while the Professor is indeed dead (and dumped); Brother Justin, who was caught checking out his sister's crotch, is now sending out subliminal messages over the radio (however, it's not "Check out my sister's crotch."); and it seems we actually know who Management is now.

Ol' craggly-voice from the ominous trailer is actually a Russian soldier that the notorious Henry Scudder, Ben Hawkins' father, originally faced off against in WWI (from, like, a three-second appearance in an episode from 2003 that I'm so sure we all remember). "[Scudder] is to me," said Management, "what the creature [Justin] is to you." And so the torch has been passed... or has it? Is this a false lead? Maybe. But I don't care, because for some reason I find material from this time period fascinating, and just about everything about this show (writing, acting and particularly the production design) has a high-quality — but appropriately grimy — gloss all over it.