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DVD: 'Carnivale' The Complete First Season
by Casimir Harlow, DVD Debate (January 13, 2005)

Casimir Harlow has taken a look at Warner's December 7th release of the complete first season of the suprisingly good Carnivale, a 6-disc set containing all 12 episodes of this weirdly-dark show following the antics of a 1930's travelling carnival. Cas has braved the entire set to bring us his thoughts on this series and the quality of Warner's package. Read on to see what Cas found.


TV series come in many different flavours but the standard, and therefore most successful format is the 22-24 episode series which has a big season premiere, a mid-season two-parter and a big finale. There are a myriad different episodes in between, some of which contribute towards an overall story arc, but most of which are one-offs that you can either take or leave.

Although I love many, many TV shows, almost all of these 'full' seasons contain some throwaway episodes. The exceptions in recent times are 24 and The West Wing. But even these shows suffer occasionally from a stretched budget because of the sheer volume of episodes that have to be made, and the amount of decent writing and work that has to be put into them. We have seen the demise of two of my favourite shows in the last couple of years: Buffy and Angel, and even though they were excellent, they too suffered from all of the problems associated with creating such a long series.

Another, less common, type of TV series is the 'half season' type, normally 10-13 episodes long. This allows for a bigger budget per episode, consistently reliable writing, and a better adherence to the story arc. HBO has given us many an excellent show in this format – The Sopranos, The Shield and the recent gem Deadwood. So when I came across Carnivale, I was intrigued to say the least – and by the end of the season, I wasn't in the least bit disappointed, and I was hoping that the next season shows sooner rather than later in the New Year.

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