Carnivale is a new series, a short one: just twelve episodes. Critical reviews aren’t great. Too odd, too quirky, too slow, too demanding. The audience wants some answers, they say. The audience is confused.
Maybe we are, and maybe we aren’t. Confused might be just the ticket in a case like this. I sit down to watch Carnivale on Sunday nights and it’s true, I don’t understand every odd David Lynch-ish turn, but I’m sure interested. Just when I think it’s going to turn into a remake of the pretentious Twin Peaks, there’s a quick shuffle and voila: I’m surprised, or touched, or just plain scared. I’m normally not big on religious symbolism or mystical goings-on, but I find myself wondering about these grimy, other-talented characters who are slogging their way through the depression, grappling with good and evil and things they don’t understand but have to pay for anyway.
If your normal bill of fare is loving Raymond and you get fidigty waiting while Regis draws out the answers on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, you’re not going to like Carnivale. You probably won’t like a lot of the other stuff on HBO either. But if you’re willing to put yourself into the storyteller’s hands and let somebody else make the decisions, you will be rewarded. If you sit back, relax, and let it happen.