Carnivale week 2 (SPOILERS)

SO what did we think of week two? Does it strike anyone else that all the plot gets revealed in the previews and all the rest is atmosphere? Really, the only plot development was Justin’s taking over Chin’s and we knew that was happening from last week’s scenes. Pretty much everything else was spookiness.

Oh, I guess we learned that maybe the Gentleman Geek was Ben’s father but we pretty much knew that anyway.

I was intrigued enough by the show to give it another week. Mostly because I was impressed by the appearance of the divine Ruth Etting (singing “Love Me or Leave Me” on the radio in a few scenes) but the show is still on the bubble for me.

The revelations weren’t too astounding. The pacing still is horrendous. If episodes were condensed into a half hour, the plot would be tighter. I’ll give next week’s episode a shot and if it doesn’t hook me, then sayonara.

Yeah, by about the 45th minute, I was thinking “Just end already.” That’s something good TV shows shouldn’t do to a viewer.


I liked this one better than the first, but I almost didn’t bother to catch it.

It’s more subtle than we’re used to.

I’ve been wanting someone to like, someone to bond with, but I think the show is better than that. The writers aren’t going to give me a stereotype to root for, or against.

Ben, for instance. I was all set to be ticked off at him for being so callow – “Your mom’s a turnip” – but the more I thought about it, I realized the kid hasn’t been socialized to endear himself to people, and that’s good writing.

The preacher showed some more depth too, when he was listening to the other preacher talk about his calling, you could see it affected him, he wants to do good works for God.

Is the Amy Madigan character his sister? I’m getting some creepy vibes on those two.

Yeah, I heard him refer to her as his “sister” in the first ep, but I kind of assumed he meant it as “sister in Christ.”

But the fact they live together would indicate relations of some sort. Either siblings (kinda creepy), or husband and wife.

Yes, definitely brother & sister in blood. The HBO site has this snapshot of the Iris Crowe character:

Justin definitely has some “issues” below the surface with his sister though. It would seem that she is either blissfully ignorant or in denial.

I’m still not sure about the show myself.

I think the characters are interesting but so far there aren’t any I’m attached to.

I’ll probably keep watching just to see if anything exciting is revealed soon.

I agree about the ads, though. they leave nothing for the episode.

Why do people keep thinking this show is subtle? It isn’t subtle at all I feel like I’m being hit with a brick at every new ‘revelation’ SEE! ISN’T THIS CREEPY! WOW LOOK AT THIS!

I finally figured out why this show was annoying me though is that it doesn’t have the familiar episode structure of a build up and pay off in every episode instead you have a slow glacial build up for a pay off that doesn’t occur for what 10 more episodes? This is fine. Some of the best TV is miniseries (like Shogun) but the characters and situations have to be interesting enough to keep you going. But so far everybody is walking around in a cloak of mystery trying so so hard to not reveal the plot. (I’m really starting to grow annoyed at the conversations “management is still upset at me” “yeah since St Louis” “yeah everything changed at St Louis” rolls eyes)

Granted, it is not exactly fast-paced action adventure, but it also took me awhile to get into The Wire, so I will keep watching.
Plus, I like the art direction - nice sets and mood.

The actor who plays Brother Justin seems real familiar to me, but I can’t place where I have seen him before…


Shawshank redemption he played the evil guard

The Hurricane he played a good guard.

Plus minor roles in about 1/2 a dozen movies.

There are only so many dream sequences I can bear (no pun intended).

I’m having problems with the pacing as well, and I want answers to some questions already. And I’m a pretty patient person.

As much as I don’t want to engage in another comparison of Twin Peaks and Carnivale, I think the differences between the shows comprise some of my problems with the narrative and pacing of the latter. I think Carnivale lacks the strong and familiar narrative device of Twin Peaks; namely the investigation of Laura Palmer’s murder. All the freaky stuff happened during the course of pretty “normal” police duties, which is totally in keeping with David Lynch’s interest in the abnormal and uncanny lying under the facade of normalcy. This, of course, is not to say that I or other viewers need to be spoon-fed symbolism and significance, but to say that Lynch’s attempts at combining the banal and the downright weird are, at the moment and IMO, more successful than those in Carnivale. However, I do like that the carnies and Brother Justin share a total belief in the supernatural and don’t question the weirdness that happens around and to them. So far, it seems Carnivale is attempting to do too much: situating the story within a historical period, combining religious fervor with carnie shilling, one boy’s search for his father. This may account for the pacing issues as well as the laborious process of character exposition and the continual hint-dropping regarding going South, management, etc.

At this point, it looks like the story’s going to move from the complex to the very simple (a showdown between good and evil; “into every generation!?” Didn’t I just finish watching Buffy?), which is not going to satisfy me as much as I was by the first season of Twin Peaks, which moved from the simple to the very complex. Still, like I said last week, I’m not making any final judgments until I see three or four episodes.

It’s going to be really hard for these writers to do something we haven’t seen before. I’m okay with another good versus evil showdown though.

I love the way the show looks. Eating outside on those rickety wooden tables – I remember picnics back in the early 50’s, before picnic tables and folding tables – it’d look just like that.

I’m okay with just hanging out with these people, letting things develop slowly. But I don’t want to be left hanging if the series is cancelled without some resolution. HBO wouldn’t do that, would they?

I thought this was a better episode. I’m still not hooked, but I’m more interested. I loved the bit with Clea Duvall’s mother; it was completely surprising. (Does Adrian Barbeau’s character perhaps exist simply so that we thought that was her coming to talk to Ben? Regardless, it was a lovely little piece of misdirection.)

There are still cliches; the fact that wossisname shot himself came as no surprise; it’d played a lot more interestingly if we thought that was his plan and he ended up shooting his wife instead.