It’s gonna be a long, slow wait until October, when the next season of American Horror Story premieres.
But long before there was even a concept for American Horror Story: Freak Show, there was Carnivale: the terrific dustbowl-era supernatural thriller series from HBO set in a traveling carnival with a freak show of its own.
Carnivale pits good against evil in the form of an orphaned farm boy with the power to channel and even re-assign life, and an immigrant preacher with an overprotective sister and a shadowy past—but it’s difficult to tell which one is good and which is evil.
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’s not yet clear on which sides these men will stand. - Written by matta2k
As the carnival makes its way across the country, coming ever nearer to a showdown between Hawkins and Crowe, each town along the way has its own ghosts, monsters and mysteries to be explored. The show won 5 Emmys and 9 other awards in categories such as art direction, cinematography and costume design, and was nominated for 25 more awards during the course of its two-season run.
If you enjoy period pieces and supernatural thrillers, this is truly a landmark program that’s not to be missed, and that people are still screening for repeat viewings, talking about, debating and puzzling over more than a decade after it first premiered.
While the show ended its run prematurely, the second season ends at a good stopping point. All the key questions are answered, and the viewer is left with the ultimate truth: that the battle between good and evil never truly ends.
Carnivale – Season One (4.5/5 stars, currently priced to buy at $1.99 per episode and $14.99 for the entire season in SD, $2.99 per episode and $19.99 for the entire season in HD)
Carnivale – Season Two (4.5/5 stars, currently priced to buy at $1.99 per episode and $14.99 for the entire season in SD, $2.99 per episode and $19.99 for the entire season in HD)