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Lunch » Tags » Tv Shows » Reviews » Carnivale, Season 1 » User review

A Truly Genuine, Original & Spiritual HBO Original Series!

  • Feb 20, 2009
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With the opening lines of the series being spoken by Samson (Michael J. Anderson) a dwarf who runs the carnival- "Before the beginning, after the great war between Heaven and Hell, God created the Earth and gave dominion over it to the crafty ape he called man. And to each generation was born a creature of light and a creature of darkness. And great armies clashed by night in the ancient war between good and evil. There was magic then, nobility, and unimaginable cruelty.

And so it was until the day that a false sun exploded over Trinity, and man forever traded away wonder for reason..."

After THAT introduction, I just KNEW I was going to be "hooked" on this original series by HBO. This series is "one of a kind"! Purposefully written, directed & acted, the myraid of characters in the carnival and the dusty, depression-era towns they visit will haunt your memories for years to come. Several storylines intertwine in each and every episode with cliffhangers and plot twisters abounding!

Samson is a con man with integrity. There's no one better at finding ways to fleece the carnival customers, and no one more respected by the carnies themselves. Samson has seen many strange and wondrous things in his time, most of them frauds perpetuated by himself and his people, and others... Well, he can't explain even to himself. Once a sideshow performer, he was elevated to his present position by "management". Who, exactly "management" is, remains to be seen... Clayton Jones, a.k.a. Jonesy, played by a very HOT Tim DeKay, is Samson's right hand man, head of the rousties, or carnival workers. Strong, tough, but bull-headed, Jonesy was once a star pitcher in the major leagues, whose career was cut short by a crippling injury to his knee. He then fell into drunkenness -- until "saved" by Samson, who brought him into the carnival.

Clancy Brown as Brother Justin Crowe, a preacher in the Central Valley of California. A "good" man, devoted not only to his flock, but to helping the poor Okies pouring in from the Dust Bowl which puts him at loggerheads against many of his "Godly" congregation and townsfolk. He and his older sister, Iris, played aptly by Amy Magidan who adores Justin, were raised as orphans by Reverend Norman Balthus (Ralph Waite- aka the dad on Waltons), a father to both, in addition to being a mentor to Justin. Justin begins to have dreams and visions. Terrible things, portending great misery, not for him,necessarily, but perhaps all he touches. Which, as he becomes famous, might well include the world. "The clock is ticking, brothers and sisters, counting down to Armageddon. The worm reveals himself in many guises across this once great land; from the intellectual elite cruelly indoctrinating our children with the savage blasphemy of Darwin, to the craven Hollywood pagans, corrupting them in the darkness of the local bijou, from the false prophets cowering behind our nation's pulpits to the vile parasites in our banks and boardrooms and the godless politicians, growing fat on the misery of their constituents. The signs of the end times are all around us, etched in blood and fire by the left hand of god. You have but to open your eyes, brothers and sisters. The truth is that the Devil is here. The Anti-Christ, the Child of Lies, the Son of Darkness walks among us cloaked in the flesh of a man. Does the Lord not weep at this degradation? Does He not tremble with righteous fury? And shall he not seek retribution? I open my eyes and I see a black sky that tears apart and screams with a voice that is thunder, 'Rise up, rise up brothers and sisters and take your place at my side. For you shall be my scythe and your face shall shine like a thousand suns and the streets shall be sanctified by the steaming black blood of the heretics.' And together brothers and sisters, together we shall build a shining temple, a kingdom that will last for thousands and thousands of years..."

Ben Hawkins, played by Nick Stahl is a troubled young man picked up by the carnival in the middle of the Dust Bowl, circa 1934, right after his mother's demise. While words and feelings come hard to loner Ben,strange images arrive all too easily in his dreams and, at times, in reality. Ben's gravitational pull brings
ABSOLUTELY everyone into his orbit. Some dislike him, others, he appears to heal by laying on of hands...

Other actors in this series are: Adrienne Barbeau as Ruthie,the older but still sexy snake charmer, and Gabriel (Brian Turk) Ruthie's strong man son. Patrick Bauchau as Lodz, a blind "mentalist". He has an uncanny ability to hold something in his hand, say, a watch, and tell the owner where it was bought, why, by whom... Amazing things that no one ought to know. But
OL' Lodz does. Lodz is a slippery man, a rival of Samson's. Lodz once had Samson's job...a job Lodz would give anything to win back. Lodz has a tempestuous relationship with Lila, the bearded Southern belle played by Debra Christofferson. Sofie is played by, Clea DuVall. Sofie is the pretty daughter of catatonic Apollonia, the tarot reader played by Diane Salinger. Apollonia accurately predicts the future, all the more remarkable since she is, indeed catatonic. Only Sofie seems able to "hear" what her mute mother has to say - a decidedly mixed blessing for Sofie.

We even have the "hootchie cootchie" dancers and prostitutes. The Cootch Show is, in fact, the girlie show, nudity required. The Dreifuss Family runs the seedier part of the carnival that includes wife and mamma, Rita Sue (Cythia Ettinger), daughters Libby (Carla Gallo) Dora Mae (Amanda Aday), along with their pimp daddy Stumpy Dreifuss.

Siamese twin girls Alexandria & Caladonia (Karyne & Sarah Steben) perform "Circ De Soleil" acrobatics while Gekco (John Fleck)the Reptile Man, deformed by a rare condition that rendered his skin lizard-like in feel and appearance shocks the masses!

The first season of HBO's Carnivale will "shock and amaze" even the most jaded of characters and season 2 'ain't all that bad neither"...

Carnivale Season 1

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About the reviewer
Sheila Chilcote-Collins ()
Ranked #155
I enjoy writing my own reviews, listmanias, 'So You'd Like To's' on Amazon and love reading other people's thoughts. I own in excess of 1000 movies, 800+ albums, & 500+ books. … more
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