Carnivàle (2003–2005)

TV Series  |  TV-MA  |   |  Drama, Fantasy, Mystery
8.6
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Ratings: 8.6/10 from 28,837 users  
Reviews: 111 user | 30 critic

During the Great Depression, an Oklahoma farm boy and a charismatic minister learn that they are key players in a proxy war being fought between Heaven and Hell.

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Title: Carnivàle (2003–2005)

Carnivàle (2003–2005) on IMDb 8.6/10

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2   1  
2005   2003  
Won 5 Primetime Emmys. Another 9 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Series cast summary:
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 Samson (24 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Ruthie (24 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Brother Justin Crowe (24 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Lila (24 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Clayton 'Jonesy' Jones (24 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Sofie (24 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Rita Sue Dreifuss (24 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Libby Dreifuss (24 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Felix 'Stumpy' Dreifuss (24 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Iris Crowe (24 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Ben Hawkins (24 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Gabriel (24 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Apollonia (18 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Professor Ernst Lodz (16 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Reverend Norman Balthus (16 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Henry 'Hack' Scudder (15 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Burley (14 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Tommy Dolan (13 episodes, 2003-2005)
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 Gecko (12 episodes, 2003)
Karyne Steben ...
 Alexandria (12 episodes, 2003)
...
 Varlyn Stroud (12 episodes, 2005)
Sarah Steben ...
 Caladonia (12 episodes, 2003)
...
 Osgood (12 episodes, 2003-2005)
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Storyline

1934, America. The Dustbowl. A fugitive named Ben Hawkins finds refuge within a traveling carnival comprised of a tarot card reader and her catatonic/telekinetic mother, a blind mentalist, a bearded lady, and conjoined twins, amongst others. The carnival is owned by the mysterious and unseen Management, who has designs on the young Hawkins, for the boy is concealing an untapped gift: he can heal the lame and raise the dead--at a price. Ben also finds himself disturbed by cryptic and prophetic dreams, which he shares with a Methodist preacher in California, Brother Justin Crowe. Brother Justin, convinced by his dreams he is following God's will, has begun to practice his own extraordinary talents, although the preacher's plans increasingly lead to disturbing and tragic consequences. In this "last great age of magic," Ben Hawkins and Justin Crowe are moving toward a great conflict between Good and Evil, although it not yet clear on which sides these men will stand. Written by matta2k

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Into each generation is born a creature of light and a creature of darkness. See more »


Certificate:

TV-MA | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

14 September 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La feria ambulante  »

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1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

While ratings began agreeably, by the end of the first season they were down significantly. During the second season, the ratings slowly rose toward the end; however, the show became increasingly expensive to produce at the same time. Many fans suspected that, due to HBO's tradition of carrying shows through to an end, and Daniel Knauf's six-year-plan, the show would be renewed, but in May 2005, it was leaked that the series would not be returning for another season. HBO confirmed that the show had been canceled on 11 May 2005. The show's ending after its second season and leaving so many plot lines unfinished has outraged many viewers. Some of them organized petitions and mailing drives to HBO to get the shows renewed. According to HBO's president this generated 50,000 emails in one weekend to the network. See more »

Goofs

When Iris Crowe kneels by Rev. Norman Balthus' bed in season 2, you can see the elastic of the fitted bottom sheet. Fitted bed sheets were not invented until 1959. See more »

Quotes

Ruthie: Crazy as mud bugs on a griddle.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Making 'Carnivàle': The Show Behind the Show (2003) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Season One
21 December 2003 | by (Chicago, IL) – See all my reviews

The best programming on HBO since their TALES FROM THE CRYPT series. Of course, some may argue that isn't saying much for CARNIVÀLE but it truly is a gem. This twelve episode first season (which debuted on September 14th) tells the tales of a traveling carnival amidst 1930s depression-era America. The show primarily follows two main characters; a chain-gang escapee named Hawkins (Nik Stahl of BULLY) and a Californian Preacher man (Clancy Brown of HIGHLANDER) by the name of Brother Justin. Both men contain mysterious powers and an unknown connection not only to each other, but also to a man from the Carnival's past named Scudder (the incomparable John Savage).

Young Hawkins is picked up by the carnival and hired as an extra hand. While traveling with the crew cross-country, he picks up subtle clues as to the significance of his dreams and learns more about his peculiar powers. Meanwhile, on the west coast, Brother Justin is tested time and again with his contemporaries' lack of faith and grows increasingly dangerous in his religiosity.

CARNIVÀLE has quite the cast of familiars, some known and others known only to cult fans. Most notably is 3'7" Michael J Anderson who plays Samson, the carnival boss. You'll most likely recognize him from David Lynch's TWIN PEAKS (1990) as the strange little fellow who spoke backwards. Andrienne Barbeau (ex wife to John Carpenter) plays a tattooed snake charmer by the name of Ruthie, Clea DuVall (BUT I'M A CHEERLEADER) plays young fortune teller Sophie, Glenn Shadix (Otho from BEETLEJUICE) appears regularly as a Californian politician, the 7'6" Mathew McGrory (Rob Zombie's HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and Tim Burton's BIG FISH) appears in the pilot episode, and the absolutely lovable horror favorite Bill Moseley (remembered best as Chop Top from TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2) plays Possum, the carnival's head cook.

The show's ultimate strength is the presentation of its visual tones, the lighting in particular is eerily beautiful. Most scenes are lit in reminiscence of the Italian Renaissance painting technique "chiaroscure," in which figures stand with an almost goldenish glow in stark contrast to the dark surroundings and or backgrounds. This is most obvious in scenes of Brother Justin at home with his sister Iris (Amy Madigan). These golden tones give the overall series a cohesive thematic. This is one of the strongest atmospheric shows I've ever seen on television. Furthermore, the grittiness and downright dirtiness of a poor traveling carnival through the dustbowls of America's Midwest is developed by the show's creators as yet another layer of ambiance. The characters appear dirtier and sweatier each progressing episode as they travel further south.

Being carried by HBO and not a mere network station allows CARNIVÀLE greater freedom for its tales. This is not just for mere nudity with the carnies' dancing girls or extra blood with any scenes of violence. Episodes five and six (titled "Babylon" and "Pick A Number") for example are tragically heart-breaking and downright scary on a number of levels. The direction, acting, imagery, and overall tone is brutally tear-jerking. This flexibility from conservative censorship only aides the story tellers in their craft.

By the final episode of the first season many elements of the story are brought together, yet just as many new questions arise for the viewer. Therefore much excitement and drama unfolds, but not enough to satisfy. Naturally, they want you to come back next time and plenty of story line still does lay over the horizon. Overall, this is a fantastic television series and I for one am eagerly awaiting the second season in the fall of 2004.


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more series like this please andrenmathers
Netflix should produce new Carnivàle!! SonnybytheSea
Some thoughts after watching both season 1 and 2. hakko
why don't they finish them as book yolanda-spencer1
Should I watch Carnivale? alfrank25
So good it was hard to believe it was an HBO series MothPriest
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