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Carnivàle ( ) is an American television series set in the United States during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl. In tracing the lives of two disparate groups of people, its overarching story depicts the battle between good and evil and the struggle between free will and destiny; the storyline mixes Christian theology with gnosticism and Masonic lore, particularly that of the Knights Templar. The show was filmed in Santa Clarita, Californiamarker, and other Southern Californian locations.

Carnivàle was produced by HBO and ran for two seasons between September 14, 2003 and March 27, 2005.The show was created by Daniel Knauf, who also served as executive producer with Ronald D. Moore and Howard Klein. The incidental music was composed by Jeff Beal. Nick Stahl and Clancy Brown starred as Ben Hawkins and Brother Justin Crowe, respectively.

Early reviews praised the style of Carnivàle but questioned the approach and execution of the story. Carnivàle's first episode set a new audience record for an HBO original series, but the show was unable to retain its ratings in its second season. ''Carnivàle'' was canceled after 24 episodes, cutting its intended six-season run short by four seasons. The show won five [[Emmys]] in 2004, was nominated for 10 further Emmy awards, and received numerous other nominations and industry awards between 2004 and 2006. {{TOClimit|3}} ==Plot introduction== {{main|List of Carnivàle episodes|Characters of Carnivàle}} The two seasons of ''Carnivàle'' take place in the Depression-era [[dust bowl]] between 1934 and 1935, and consist of two main plotlines that slowly converge. The first involves a young man with strange healing powers named [[Ben Hawkins (Carnivàle)|Ben Hawkins]] ([[Nick Stahl]]), who joins a [[traveling carnival]] when it passes near his home in [[Milfay, Oklahoma]]. Soon thereafter, Ben begins having surreal dreams and visions, which set him on the trail of a man named Henry Scudder, a drifter who crossed paths with the carnival many years before, and who apparently possessed unusual abilities similar to Ben's own. The second plotline revolves around a [[Father Coughlin]]-esque [[Methodist]] preacher, [[Brother Justin Crowe]] ([[Clancy Brown]]), who lives with his sister Iris in [[California]]. He shares Ben's prophetic dreams and slowly discovers the extent of his own unearthly powers, which include bending human beings to his [[will (philosophy)|will]] and making their sins and greatest evils manifest in the form of terrifying visions. Certain that he is doing God's work, Brother Justin fully devotes himself to his religious duties, not realizing that his ultimate nemesis Ben Hawkins and the carnival are inexorably drawing closer. ==Production== ===Conception=== [[Image:Daniel Knauf 1.JPG|thumb|Show creator [[Daniel Knauf]]]] [[Daniel Knauf]] conceived the initial script for the show between 1990 and 1992 when he was unsatisfied with his job as a Californian [[health insurance]] [[Insurance broker|broker]] and hoped to become a [[screenwriter]]. He had always been interested in carnivals and noted that this subject had rarely been dramatized on film. The resulting story and its treatment of [[Freak show|freaks]] was strongly informed by Knauf's experiences of growing up with a disabled father who was not commonly accepted as a normal human being.{{cite web |url= |title=Freaking hell |date=December 16, 2004 | |accessdate=2007-08-17}} Knauf named the intended [[feature film]] script ''Carnivàle'', using an unusual spelling for a more outlandish look. Knauf had plotted the story's broad strokes as well as several plot details from early on and knew the story destination up until the final scene. However, the resulting 180-page long script was twice the length of a typical feature film script, and Knauf still felt that it was too short to do his story justice. He therefore shelved the screenplay as a learning experience. In the meantime, all but one of Knauf's other scripts were rejected by [[Hollywood]] studios, often for being "too weird." In the mid-1990s, Knauf met a few [[Writers Guild of America|Writers Guild]] TV writers who encouraged him to revise ''Carnivàle'' as a TV series. Knauf turned the script's first act into a [[pilot episode]], but, having no contacts in the television business, he was forced to shelve the project again and return to his regular job. A few years later, after realizing that his insurance career was not working out, he decided to give his screenwriting efforts a last chance by offering the ''Carnivàle'' pilot on his website. The script was subsequently forwarded to [[Howard Klein]] via [[Scott Winant]], a mutual friend of the two men. After several meetings and conversations, Klein felt confident that ''Carnivàle'' would make a good episodic television series that could last for many years. Klein brought it to the attention of [[Chris Albrecht]] and Carolyn Strauss of [[HBO]], who were immediately receptive.{{cite web |url= |title=''Carnivale'' – Where mysticism's often meted out in meticulously slow fashion |date=June 16, 2004 | |accessdate=2007-07-28}}{{cite video |people=[[Clea DuVall]], [[Carolyn Strauss]] |title=Carnivàle: Complete Season 2 – The Museum of Television & Radio's William S. Paley Television Festival CARNIVALE |medium=DVD |publisher=HBO Home Video |date2=2004-03-16}}{{cite web |url= |title= "Master of the Carnival" – Howard Klein | |accessdate=2007-08-08}} But the network deemed Knauf too inexperienced in the television business to give him full control over the budget, and appointed [[Ronald D. Moore]] as showrunner. (Knauf would replace Moore after one season when Moore left for the re-imagined ''[[Battlestar Galactica (reimagining)|Battlestar Galactica]]''.) The pilot episode, which was filmed over a period of twenty-one days, served as the basis for additional tweaking of intended story lines. Long creative discussions took place among the writers and the network, leading to the postponement of the filming of the second episode for fourteen months.{{cite web |url= |title=Highlights from the Dan Knauf Chat – Episode 1 – Milfay |date=July 17, 2005 | |accessdate=2007-07-28}}{{cite web |url= |title="Character References" – Dawn Prestwich & Nicole Yorkin | |accessdate=2007-08-10}} One major change was the addition of extra material for Brother Justin's side of the story. Brother Justin was originally conceived as a well-established preacher, and as a recurring character rather than a regular one. However, after perusing the preliminary version of the pilot, Knauf and the producers realized that there was no room for Justin to grow in a television series. Hence, it was decided to make Brother Justin an ordinary [[Methodist]] [[Minister (Christianity)|minister]] in a small town, setting him back in his career by about one or two years. Expanding Brother Justin's role opened new possibilities, and his sister Iris was created as a supporting character. Little was changed on Ben Hawkins' side except for the addition of the cootch ([[striptease]]) family; a ''Carnivàle'' consultant had elated the producers by calling attention to his research about families managing cootch shows in the 1930s.{{cite web |url= |title=Interview with Daniel Knauf – Part 1 |date=January 12, 2004 |publisher=Beth Blighton at |accessdate=2007-07-29}}Daniel Knauf in the DVD audio commentary for the episode "Milfay" ===Format=== The ''Carnivàle'' story was originally intended to be a trilogy of "books", consisting of two seasons each.{{cite web |url= |title=Interview de Daniel Knauf | |month=April | year=2005 |accessdate=2007-09-17}} This plan was abruptly changed when HBO canceled the show after the first two seasons. Each season consists of twelve episodes. Airing on HBO benefited ''Carnivàle'' in several ways. Because HBO does not rely on commercial breaks, ''Carnivàle'' had the artistic freedom to vary in episode length. Although the episodes averaged a runtime of 54 minutes, the episodes "Insomnia" and "Old Cherry Blossom Road" significantly departed with lengths of 46 minutes and 59 minutes, respectively. HBO budgeted approximately [[US$]]4 million for each episode, considerably more than what most television series receive.{{cite web |url= |title= Dan Knauf Speaks About Carnivale's Cancellation | |accessdate=2007-07-31}} (Based on [ Daniel Knauf's Yahoo Carnivàle HBO forum post] from May 12, 2005 (registration required)). This increased ''Carnivàle'''s production value, allowing for a comparably large main cast, filming on location, and developing story, plot depth, and atmosphere. ===Historical production design=== ''Carnivàle'''s 1930s [[Dust Bowl]] setting required significant research and historical consultants to be convincing, which was made possible with HBO's strong financial backing. As a result, reviews praised the look and production design of the show as "impeccable,"{{cite web | last=Lowry | first=Brian | title=Recently Reviewed – Carnivàle | url= |date=January 6, 2005 | | accessdate=2007-07-31}} "spectacular" and as "an absolute visual stunner." In 2004, ''Carnivàle'' won four [[Emmys]] for art direction, cinematography, costumes, and hairstyling. To give a sense of the dry and dusty environment of the Dust Bowl, smoke and dirt were constantly blown through tubes onto the set. The actors' clothes were ragged and drenched in dirt, and ''Carnivàle'' had an estimated 5,000 people costumed in the show's first season alone. The creative team listened to 1930s music and radio and read old [[Hollywood]] magazines to get the period's sound, language, and slang right. The art department had an extensive research library of old catalogs, among them an original 1934 [[Sears Catalog]], which were purchased at flea markets and antique stores. The East European background of some characters and Asian themes in Brother Justin's story were incorporated into the show. Except for the show's supernatural elements, a historical consultant deemed ''Carnivàle'''s historic accuracy to be excellent in regard to the characters' lives and clothes, their food and accommodations, their cars and all the material culture.{{cite video |title=Carnivàle: Complete Season 1 – "Making of Carnivàle" |medium=DVD |publisher=HBO Home Video |year2=2004}}{{cite web |url= |title="Creating 1934" – Mary Corey | |accessdate=2007-09-03}}{{cite web |url= |title= "Dressing the Dust Bowl" – Sara Andrews Ingrassia | |accessdate=2007-09-03}} ===Filming locations=== ''Carnivàle'''s interiors were filmed at Santa Clarita Studios in [[Santa Clarita, California]], while the show's many exterior scenes were filmed on [[Southern California]] locations. The fictional California town of Mintern, where the stories about Brother Justin and Iris in Season 1 were based, were shot at [[Movie ranch#Paramount Movie Ranch|Paramount Ranch]] in [[Malibu, California|Malibu]]. The carnival set itself was moved around the greater Southern California area, to [[movie ranch]]es and to [[Lancaster, California|Lancaster]], which were to replicate the states of [[Oklahoma]], [[Texas]], and [[New Mexico]]. The permanent filming location of the carnival in Season 2 was [[Big Sky Ranch]], which was also used for Brother Justin's new home in fictional New Canaan.Summer 2003 Cable TCA Press Tour (July 10, 2003). Transcript at []. Retrieved on [[2007-08-11]].{{cite web |url=,1002,271%7C79952%7C1%7C,00.html |title='Roswell' Writer Leaves 'Battlestar' for a 'Carnivale' |date=January 30, 2003 | |accessdate=2007-08-08}}{{cite web |url= |title=Exclusive Interview With Debra Christofferson | |date=April 18, 2006 |accessdate=2007-11-14}} ===Opening title sequence=== {{further|[[Mythology of Carnivàle#Tarot]]}} ''Carnivàle'''s opening title sequence was created by A52, a [[visual effects]] and design company based in [[Los Angeles]], and featured music composed by [[Wendy Melvoin]] and [[Lisa Coleman (musician)|Lisa Coleman]].{{cite web |url= |title=A52 Masters Fate in New Main Title Sequence for HBO's Carnivàle |date=September 15, 2003 | |accessdate=2007-08-12}} The opening title sequence won an [[Emmy]] for "Outstanding Main Title Design" in 2004. [[Image:Carnivale Tarot Cards in Opening Title Sequence.jpg|thumb|One frame of ''Carnivàle'''s opening title sequence]] The production team of A52 had intended to "create a title sequence that grounded viewers in the mid-1930s, but that also allowed people to feel a larger presence of [[good and evil]] over all of time." A52 then pitched their idea to ''Carnivàle'' executives in early 2003, who felt that the company's proposal was the most creative for the series' concept. The actual production included scanned transparencies of famous pieces of artwork, each scanned transparency being up to 300 MB in size. The resulting images were [[photoshopped]] and [[Rendering (computer graphics)|digitally rendered]]. A last step involved stock footage clips being compiled and digitally incorporated into the sequence. The opening title sequence itself begins with a deck of [[Tarot card]]s falling into the sand, while the camera moves in and enters one card into a separate world presenting layers of artwork and footage from iconic moments of the [[United States|American]] [[Depression era]]; the camera then moves back out of a different card and repeats the procedure several times. The sequence ends with the camera shifting from the "[[Judgement (Tarot card)|Judgement]]" Tarot card to the "[[The Moon (Tarot card)|Moon]]" and the "[[The Sun (Tarot card)|Sun]]", identifying the [[Devil]] and [[God]] respectively, until the wind blows away all cards and the underlying sand to reveal the ''Carnivàle'' title artwork.{{cite web |url= |title=Carnivàle Opening Credits | |accessdate=2007-08-12}} The historical footage includes [[Benito Mussolini|Mussolini]], [[Vyacheslav Molotov|Molotov]] and [[Joseph Stalin|Stalin]], [[Jesse Owens]], [[Babe Ruth]], [[Bonus Army|Bonus Marcher]]s approaching the [[United States Capitol|Capitol]], and [[Franklin D. Roosevelt|Roosevelt]] and his son [[James Roosevelt|James]]. ===Music=== ''Carnivàle'' features instrumental music composed by [[Jeff Beal]], as well as many popular and obscure songs from the 1920s and 1930s, the time when ''Carnivàle'''s story takes place. The main title was written by [[Wendy Melvoin]] and [[Lisa Coleman (musician)|Lisa Coleman]], and was released with selected themes by Jeff Beal on a ''Carnivàle'' television soundtrack by the record label [[Varèse Sarabande]] on December 7, 2004. Beal released tracks of Season 2 on his personal website.{{cite web |url= |title=Official website | |accessdate=2008-06-04}} A complete list of music credits is available on the official HBO website.{{cite web |url= |title=Music Credits | |accessdate=2008-06-04}} Jeff Beal's score is primarily acoustic sounding electronics, but mixes themes of [[Bluegrass music|bluegrass]] as well as atmospheric rhythmic sounds. Bigger groups of strings support smaller ensembles of [[guitar]]s, [[piano]]s, [[violin]]s, [[cello]]s, and [[trumpet]]s. The music sometimes uses ethnic instruments such as [[banjo]]s, [[harmonica]]s, [[ukulele]]s, and [[duduk]]s.{{cite web |url= |title= Kritiken – Carnivale (Jeff Beal) |date=January 31, 2007 | | language = [[German language|German]] |accessdate=2007-08-04}} Because HBO does not break individual episodes with commercials, ''Carnivàle'''s music is paced similar to a movie, with character-specific [[leitmotif]]s from as early as the first episode. Characters get musically identified by solo instruments chosen for the character's ethnic background or nature. Some characters whose connections would only be disclosed later in the series have intentionally similar themes.{{cite web |url= |title= "From Wang-Wang to Bouzouki" – Kevin Edelman & Alexandra Patsavas | |accessdate=2007-08-04}} Different music is consciously used to represent the two different worlds of the story. Brother Justin's world features music of constructed orchestral sound with religious music and instruments. On the other hand, the score of the carnival side is more deconstructed and mystical, especially when the carnival travels through the [[dustbowl]] and remote towns. For carnival scenes taking place in the cootch ([[striptease]]) show or in cities, however, contemporary [[pop music]], [[blues]], [[folk music|folk]], and ethnic music is played.{{cite web |url= |title= "Mood Music" – Jeff Beal | |accessdate=2007-08-04}} One of the most defining songs of ''Carnivàle'' is the 1920s song "[[Love Me or Leave Me (song)|Love Me or Leave Me]]" by [[Ruth Etting]], which is used in several episodes to tie characters in the two worlds thematically. ==Cast== {{main|Characters of Carnivàle}} [[Image:Carnivale Season 1 Cast Promo.jpg|thumb|350px|From left to right – front row: Lodz, Lila, Libby, Caladonia and Alexandria, Apollonia, Sofie, Ben Hawkins, Jonesy, Iris, Brother Justin – back row: Dora Mae, Rita Sue, Stumpy, Ruthie, Gecko, Samson]] The plot of ''Carnivàle'' takes place in the 1930s [[Dust Bowl]] and revolves around the slowly converging storylines of a traveling carnival and a [[California]]n preacher. Out of the 17 actors receiving star billing in the first season, 15 were part of the carnival storyline. The second season amounted to 13 main cast members, supplemented by several actors in recurring roles.Numbers are based on the number of actor names appearing in the opening titles of each season, respectively. Although such large casts make shows more expensive to produce, the writers are benefitted with more flexibility in story decisions.{{cite web |last=Keveney |first=Bill |url= |title=TV hits maximum occupancy | |date=November 8, 2005 |accessdate=2007-09-15}} The backgrounds of most characters were fully developed before the filming of ''Carnivàle'' began but were not part of the show's visible structure. The audience would therefore only learn more about the characters as a natural aspect in the story.{{cite web |last=Faraci |first=Devin |url= |title=Thud interview: Dan Knauf (Carnivale producer) | |date=January 19, 2005 |accessdate=2005-09-15}} Season 1's first storyline is led by [[Nick Stahl]] portraying the protagonist [[Ben Hawkins (Carnivàle)|Ben Hawkins]], a young [[Okie]] farmer who joins a [[traveling carnival]]. [[Michael J. Anderson]] played Samson, the diminutive manager of the carnival. [[Tim DeKay]] portrayed Clayton "Jonesy" Jones, Samson's crippled co-manager. [[Patrick Bauchau]] acted as the carnival's blind mentalist Lodz, while [[Debra Christofferson]] played his lover, Lila the Bearded Lady. [[Diane Salinger]] portrayed the catatonic fortune teller Apollonia, and [[Clea DuVall]] acted as her [[tarot]]-card-reading daughter, Sofie. [[Adrienne Barbeau]] portrayed the snake charmer Ruthie, with [[Brian Turk]] as her son Gabriel, a strongman. [[John Fleck (actor)|John Fleck]] played Gecko the Lizard Man, and [[Steben Twins|Karyne and Sarah Steben]] appeared as the conjoined twins Alexandria and Caladonia. The [[striptease|cootch show]] Dreifuss family was played by [[Toby Huss]] and [[Cynthia Ettinger]] as Felix "Stumpy" and Rita Sue, and [[Carla Gallo]] as their daughter Libby. [[Amanda Aday]] portrayed their other daughter, Dora Mae Dreifuss, in a recurring role. [[John Savage (actor)|John Savage]] played the mysterious Henry Scudder in several episodes, while [[Linda Hunt]] lent her voice to the mysterious Management. The second storyline is led by [[Clancy Brown]] portraying ''Carnivàle'''s antagonist, the Methodist minister [[Brother Justin Crowe]]. [[Amy Madigan]] played his sister Iris. [[Robert Knepper]] supported them as the successful radio host Tommy Dolan later in the first season, while [[Ralph Waite]] had a recurring role as Reverend Norman Balthus, Brother Justin's mentor. [[K Callan]] performed in a recurring role as Eleanor McGill, a parishioner who became devoted to Brother Justin after seeing his power firsthand. Several cast changes took place in Season 2, some of them planned from the beginning.{{cite web |url= |title=Dan Knauf Interview |date=February 15, 2005 | |accessdate=2007-08-02}} John Fleck, [[Karyne Steben]] and her sister [[Sarah Steben|Sarah]] had made their last appearance in the first season's finale, while Patrick Bauchau's and Diane Salinger's status was reduced to guest-starring. Ralph Waite joined the regular cast. Several new characters were introduced in recurring roles, most notably [[John Carroll Lynch]] as the escaped convict Varlyn Stroud and [[Bree Walker]] as Sabina the Scorpion Lady. ===Casting=== The [[Casting (performing arts)|casting]] approach for ''Carnivàle'' was to cast the best available actors and to show the characters' realness as opposed to depending on [[freak show|freak]] illusions too much. ''Carnivàle'''s casting directors John Papsodera and Wendy O'Brien already had experience in casting freaks from previous projects. The producers generally preferred actors who were not strongly identified with other projects, but were willing to make exceptions such as for Adrienne Barbeau as Ruthie.{{cite web |url= |title="Beyond the Standard Fare" – John Papsidera | |accessdate=2007-08-03}} The script for the pilot episode was the basis for the casting procedure, with little indication where the show would go afterwards. This resulted in some preliminary casting disagreements between the creators and producers, especially for leading characters such as Ben, Brother Justin and Sofie. The character of Ben was always intended to be the leading man and hero of the series, yet he was also desired to display a youthful, innocent and anti-hero quality; Nick Stahl had the strongest consensus among the producers. The character of Sofie was originally written as more of an exotic [[Romani people|gypsy]] girl, but Clea DuVall, a movie actor like Stahl, got the part after four auditions. Tim DeKay was cast as Jonesy because the producers felt he best portrayed a "very American" looking [[baseball player]] of that period. One of the few actors who never had any real competition was Michael J. Anderson as Samson, whom Daniel Knauf had wanted as early as the initial meeting. ==Mythology== {{main|Mythology of Carnivàle}} Although almost every ''Carnivàle'' episode has a distinguished story with a [[List of Carnivàle episodes|new carnival setting]], all episodes are part of an overarching [[Good and evil|good-versus-evil]] story that only culminates and resolves very late in Season 2. The pilot episode begins with a prologue talking of "a creature of light and a creature of darkness" (also known as Avatars) being born "to each generation" preparing for a final battle.{{cite web | last=Poniewozik | first=James | title = HBO's Cirque du So-So | url=,9171,483299,00.html |date=September 7, 2003 | | accessdate=2007-07-31}} ''Carnivàle'' does not reveal its characters as Avatars beyond insinuation, and makes the nature of suggested Avatars a central question. Reviewers believed Ben to be a Creature of Light and Brother Justin a Creature of Darkness.{{cite web | last=Gilbert |first=Matthew | title='Carnivale' atmosphere gets lost in pretentious new HBO series | url= |date=September 12, 2003 | | accessdate=2007-08-29}}{{cite web | last=Chocano |first=Carina | title=TV Review – Carnivale (2003) | url=,,482486,00.html |date=September 12, 2003 | | accessdate=2007-09-08}} Other than through the characters, the show's good-and-evil theme manifests in the series' contemporary [[religion]], the [[Christianity|Christian]] [[military order]] [[Knights Templar]], [[tarot divination]], and in historical events like the [[Dustbowl]] and [[Trinity site|humankind's first nuclear test]]. The writers had established a groundwork for story arcs, character biographies and [[Characters of Carnivàle#Genealogy|genealogical character links]] before filming of the seasons began, but many of the intended clues remained unnoticed by viewers. While Ronald D. Moore was confident that ''Carnivàle'' was one of the most complicated shows on television,{{cite video |people=[[Ronald D. Moore|Moore, Ronald D.]] |title=Carnivàle: Complete Season 1 – Making Carnivàle |medium=DVD |publisher=[[HBO Home Video]] |year2=2004 |quote=I think I can say without fear of contradiction this may be the largest and most complicated show on television.}} Daniel Knauf reassured critics that ''Carnivàle'' was intended to be a demanding show with a lot of subtext{{cite web |last=Callaghan |first=Dylan |url= |title=In the Ring with Good and Evil | |year=2005 |accessdate=2007-09-17}} and admitted that "you may not understand everything that goes on but it does make a certain sense". Knauf provided hints about the show's mythological structure to online fandom both during and after the two-season run of ''Carnivàle'', and left fans a production summary of ''Carnivàle'''s first season two years after cancellation. Matt Roush of ''[[TV Guide]]'' called ''Carnivàle'' "the perfect show for those who thought ''Twin Peaks'' was too accessible".{{cite web |last=Roush |first=Matt |url= |title=Roush Riff | |date=January 19, 2005 |accessdate=2007-10-20}} ''[[The Australian]]'' stated that ''Carnivàle'' "seems to have been conceived in essentially literary terms" which "can sometimes work on the page but is deadly on the large screen, let alone a small one. It's almost like a biblical injunction against pretension on television."{{cite news |last=Craven |first=Peter |url= |title=Art Without A Net |date=December 18, 2004 |publisher=The Australian |accessdate=2007-10-20}} A reviewer admitted his temptation to dismiss the first season of ''Carnivàle'' as "too artsy and esoteric" because his lack of involvement prevented him from understanding "what the heck was going on, [which] can be a problem for a dramatic television series."{{cite news |last=Richmond |first=Ray |url= |title=Carnivàle |publisher= Hollywood Reporter |date=January 7, 2005 |accessdate=2007-10-20}} [[TV Zone]] however considered ''Carnivàle'' "a series like no other and [...] the fact that it is so open to interpretation surprisingly proves to be one of its greatest strengths."{{cite journal | quotes=no | last = Baughan | first = Nikki | year = 2004 | month = January | title = Carnivàle – Season 1 | journal = [[TV Zone]] | issue = 172 | pages = 64–65 | accessdate = 2007-11-23}} ''Carnivàle'' was lauded for showing "the hopelessness of the [[Great Depression]] to life" and for being among the first TV shows to show "unmitigated pain and disappointment", but reviewers were not confident that viewers would find the "slowly unfolding sadness" appealing over long or would have the patience or endurance to find out the meaning of the show.{{cite web |last=Havrilesky |first=Heather |url= |title=Gutsy—or just gusty? | |accessdate=2007-10-20}} ==Cancellation and future== As [[HBO]] makes their commitments for only one year at a time, a third season would have meant opening up a new two-season book in [[Daniel Knauf]]'s six-year plan, including the introduction of new storylines for current and new characters, and further clarification and elaboration on the show's mythology. Fans assumed that the show would be renewed, but an internet leak announced in early May 2005 that the series would not be returning for a third season.{{cite web |url= |title=Carnivale CANCELLED! |publisher=Beth Blighton at Yahoo Carnivàle HBO (registration required) |date=May 7, 2005 |accessdate=2007-07-28}} Mirrored at []. HBO confirmed that the show had been cancelled on May 11, 2005.{{cite web |url= |title=''Carnivàle'' packing up |date=May 11, 2005 | |accessdate=2007-07-25}} HBO's president [[Chris Albrecht]] stated that the network would have considered otherwise if the producers had been willing to lower the price of an episode to [[US$]]2 million; but the running costs for the sizable cast, the all-on-location shooting and the number of episodes per season were too enormous for them. The cancellation resulted in several story plot lines being unfinished, and outraged loyal viewers organized petitions and mailing drives to get the show renewed. This generated more than 50,000 emails to the network in a single weekend.{{cite web |url=,1002,271%7C96426%7C1%7C,00.html |title='Carnivàle' Fans Besiege HBO with E-mails |date=July 18, 2005 | |accessdate=2007-07-25}} Show creator Daniel Knauf was unconvinced of the success of such measures, but explained that proposed alternatives like selling ''Carnivàle'' to a competing network or spinning off the story were not possible because of HBO owning ''Carnivàle'''s plot and characters. At the same time, Knauf was hopeful that, given a strong enough fan base, HBO might reconsider the show's future and allow the continuation of the show in another medium; but because of the amount of unused story material he still had, Knauf did not favor finishing the ''Carnivàle'' story with a three-hour movie.Canceled (for now) – Die-hards fight to save TV faves. The Washington Times (July 29, 2005). Mirrored at []. Retrieved on [[2007-07-28]]. Knauf would not release a detailed run-down of intended future plots to fans, explaining that his stories are a collaboration of writers, directors and actors alike.{{cite web |url= |title=A message from Dan Knauf | |date=May 21, 2005 |accessdate=2007-07-28}} (Based on [ Daniel Knauf's Yahoo Carnivale HBO post] from May 12, 2005 (registration required)). He and the producers did, however, answer a few basic details about the [[Characters of Carnivàle#Season 2 finale and character fates|immediate fate of major characters]] who were left in near-fatal situations in the final episode of Season 2. Knauf additionally provided in-depth information regarding the [[Mythology of Carnivàle|underlying fictional laws of nature]] that the writers had not been able to fully explore in the first two seasons. June 2007 however marked the first time that a comprehensive work of detailed character backgrounds was made public. Following a fundraising auction, Knauf offered fans a so-called "Pitch Document," a summary of ''Carnivàle'''s first season. This document was originally written in 2002 and 2003 to give the writers and the studio an idea about the series' intended plot, and answered many of the show's mysteries.Pitch Document (CARNIVALE Backstory and Mythology.doc) and character biographies (CHARACTER BIOS TEXT ONLY.doc) at [ Yahoo Carnivale HBO Files] (registration required) (July 1, 2007). Character biographies previously auctioned at the [ Clancy Brown Fan Club Charity Auction] (May 16–30, 2007). Retrieved on [[2007-08-05]]. ==Marketing and merchandise== ===Pre-broadcast marketing=== [[HBO]] reportedly invested in ''Carnivàle'''s promotion as much as for any of its primetime series launches. But the series' unconventional and complex narrative made the network deviate from its traditional marketing strategies. [[Teaser trailer]]s were inserted on [[CD-ROM]]s into ''[[Entertainment Weekly]]'' issues to draw attention to the show's visual quality. 30-second TV spots were aired in national syndication, cable and local avails for four weeks before the show's premiere instead of the usual seven days. The historical context of ''Carnivàle'' was deliberately emphasized in the show's print art, which depicted the 17-member cast surrounding a carnival truck. This image was accompanied by a tagline of the show's good versus evil theme: "Into each generation is born a creature of light and a creature of darkness." These measures were hoped to be backed up by positive critical reviews. To give ratings an initial boost, HBO placed the premiere of ''Carnivàle'' directly after the series finale of the successful ''[[Sex and the City]]''. The series continued to receive extensive online advertisement for almost its entire run.{{cite web |first=Andrew |last=Wallenstein |url= |title=Marketing HBO's 'Carnivale' |date=August 15, 2003 | |accessdate=2007-08-05}} ===Games=== Personalized and interactive online games inspired by [[tarot|tarot divination]] were created for ''Carnivàle'''s internet presence. The official HBO website collaborated with [[RealNetworks]] to offer ''FATE: The Carnivàle Game'', a downloadable game made available for trial and for purchase.{{cite web |url= |title=HBO and RealNetworks Launch Downloadable Game Inspired by Critically Acclaimed Series "Carnivàle" | |date=November 21, 2007 |accessdate=2007-09-23 }}{{cite web |url= |title=Fate: The Carnivàle Game | |accessdate=2007-09-17}} The official [[Movie Network]] website featured an interactive [[Ouija]] online game.{{cite web |url= |title=The All Seeing Ouija Board | |accessdate=2007-09-17}} ===DVDs=== ''Carnivàle: The Complete First Season'' was released as a [[widescreen]] six-disc [[Region 1]] DVD [[box set]] in the USA on December 7, 2004,{{cite web|url= |title=Carnivale – The Complete First Season | | accessdate=2007-08-10}} one month before the premiere of the second season. It was distributed by HBO Home Video and contained three audio commentaries and a [[Making-of|behind-the-scenes]] featurette. The outer slipcover of the Region 1 set was made of a thick cardboard to mimic a bound book. The same set was released with less elaborate packaging in [[Region 2]] on March 7, 2005,{{cite web |url= |title=Carnivale: Complete HBO Season 1 (2003) | |accessdate=2007-08-27}} and in [[Region 4]] on May 11, 2005.{{cite web |url= |title=Carnivale   Complete Season 1 (6 Disc Set) | |accessdate=2007-08-28}} ''Carnivàle: The Complete Second Season'' was released as a widescreen six-disc Region 1 DVD box set in the USA on July 18, 2006,{{cite web |url= |title=Carnivale - The Complete Second Season | | accessdate=2007-09-08}} in Region 2 on August 7, 2006,{{cite web |url= |title=Carnivale: Complete HBO Season 2 | |accessdate=2007-08-28}} and in Region 4 on October 4, 2006.{{cite web |url= |title=Carnivale   Complete Season 2 (6 Disc Set) | |accessdate=2007-08-28}} Each of these releases was distributed by HBO Home Video and contained three audio commentaries, on-stage interviews of the cast and producers, a featurette about the mythology of the series, and four short "Creating the Scene" segments about the concept, inspiration and execution process. The packaging remained similar to each region's first season set. == Reception == === Ratings === ''Carnivàle'' aired on [[HBO]] on a Sunday 9:00PM timeslot during its two-season run between 2003 and 2005. "Milfay", ''Carnivàle'''s pilot episode, drew 5.3 million viewers for its premiere on September 14, 2003. This marked the best ever debut for an HBO original series at the time, caused in part by the established HBO series ''[[Sex and the City]]'' being ''Carnivàle'''s lead-in. This record was broken on March 21, 2004 by HBO series ''[[Deadwood (TV series)|Deadwood]]'', which debuted with 5.8 million viewers as the lead-out of ''[[The Sopranos]]''.{{cite web |url= |title= Solid 'Carnivale' start after HBO's hot 'Sex' | |date=September 16, 2003 |accessdate=2007-08-05}}{{cite web |url= |title= HBO 'Rome' ratings not built in a day | |date=August 30, 2005 |accessdate=2007-08-05}} Viewership dropped to 3.49 million for ''Carnivàle'''s second episode but remained stable for the remainder of the season. The final episode of season one finished with 3.5 million viewers on November 30, 2003. Season one averaged 3.54 viewers and a household rating of 2.41.{{cite web |url= |title= US cable ratings (compiled statistics from September 7 till November 30, 2003) |language=[[German language|German]] | |accessdate=2007-08-05}} Viewership for the second season opening on 9 January 2005 was down by two thirds to 1.81 million.{{cite web |url= |title= Development update: January 12 | |date=January 12, 2005 |accessdate=2007-08-05}} The ratings never recovered to their first-season highs, although the season two finale experienced an upswing with 2.40 million viewers on March 27, 2005. Season 2 averaged 1.7 million viewers, not enough to avert an imminent cancellation.{{cite web |url= |title= Development update: March 31 | |date=March 31, 2005 |accessdate=2007-08-05}} === Critical reviews=== {{seealso|Mythology of Carnivàle#Reception, interpretation and legacy}} Many early reviews gave ''Carnivàle'' good marks but also stated that its unique characters and story might prevent it from becoming a huge mainstream audience success. ''[[Daily Variety]]'' TV editor Joseph Adalian predicted that "it will get mostly positive reviews but some people will be put off by the general weirdness of the show."{{cite web | last=Doty | first=Meriah | title=Taking a tour with 'Carnivàle' | url= |date=September 11, 2003 | publisher = | accessdate=2007-07-31}} Phil Gallo of ''[[Variety (magazine)|Variety]]'' described ''Carnivàle'' as "an absolute visual stunner with compelling [[freak show]] characters—but the series unfortunately takes a leisurely approach toward getting to a point,"{{cite web | last=Gallo | first=Phil | title=Recently Reviewed – Carnivàle | url= |date=September 11, 2003 | | accessdate=2007-07-31}} and Eric Deggans of the ''[[St. Petersburg Times]]'' suggested that "it's as if executives at the premium cable network want to see how far they can slow a narrative before viewers start tossing their remotes through the screen".{{cite web |last=Deggans |first=Eric |url= |title=He speaks fluent carny |publisher=''[[St. Petersburg Times]]'' |date=September 13, 2003 |accessdate=2008-08-30}} James Poniewozik of ''[[Time (magazine)|Time]]'' called the first three episodes "frustrating" as well as "spellbinding."{{cite web | last=Poniewozik | first=James | title = HBO's Cirque du So-So | url=,9171,483299,00.html |date=September 7, 2003 | | accessdate=2007-07-31}} Amanda Murray of [[BBC]] said "With so little revealed, it's almost impossible to pass judgment on the show—it's hard to tell if this is just good, or going to be great."{{cite web | last=Murray | first=Amanda | title=Review: Carnivale | url= |date=September 13, 2004 | | accessdate=2007-07-31}} Later DVD reviews were able to judge the series on the basis of full seasons. While the acting, set design, costuming, art direction and cinematography continued to be praised,{{cite web|url= |title=Carnivàle: Complete First Season | | accessdate=2007-07-29}}{{cite web | last=Enk | first=Bryan | title=Carnivale: Season Two (HBO) | url= | | accessdate=2007-07-31}} some reviewers disfavored the writing, especially of Season 1, as "lack[ing] story momentum" or as "sometimes gripping but mostly boring."{{cite web | last=Chaw | first=Walter | title=Carnivàle: The Complete First Season | url= | | accessdate=2007-07-31}} Other reviewers pointed out that ''Carnivàle'' may "demand more from its audience than many are willing to invest. [...] Without paying close attention, it's tempting to assume that the show is unnecessarily cryptic and misleading." ''Carnivàle'''s story was surveyed as long and complex, "and if you don't start from the beginning, you'll be completely lost."{{cite web | last=Kasch | first=Andrew | title = Carnivàle: The Complete Second Season (DVD) | url= |date=September 8, 2006 | | accessdate=2007-07-31}} [[IGN|IGN DVD]]'s Matt Casamassina, however, praised the show in two reviews, writing that the "gorgeously surreal" first season "dazzles with unpredictable plot twists and scares"{{cite web | last=Casamassina | first=Matt | title =Carnivàle: The Complete First Season (DVD) | url= |date=December 10, 2004 | publisher=IGN Media | accessdate=2007-10-26}}, and that the "extraordinary" second season was "better fantasy – better entertainment, period – than any show that dares to call itself a competitor."{{cite web | last=Casamassina | first=Matt | title =Carnivàle: The Complete Second Season (DVD) | url= |date= July 21, 2006 | publisher=IGN Media | accessdate=2007-10-26}} A significant portion of reviews drew parallels between ''Carnivàle'' and [[David Lynch]]'s 1990s mystery TV series ''[[Twin Peaks]]'', a show that ''Carnivàle'' actor [[Michael J. Anderson]] had [[Man from Another Place|previously appeared]] in. Knauf did not deny a stylistic link and also made comparisons to [[John Steinbeck]]'s novel ''[[The Grapes of Wrath]]''.{{cite web |url= |title= "The Making of a Magnificent Delusion" – Daniel Knauf | |accessdate=2007-08-09}} When ''[[Lost (TV series)|Lost]]'' began to receive major critical attention, ''Carnivàle'' and its type of mythological storytelling were compared to ''Lost'''s story approach in several instances.{{cite web | last=Gilbert | first=Matthew | title = Getting 'Lost' | url= |date=October 27, 2004 | | accessdate=2007-08-04}}{{cite web | last=Sullivan | first=Brian Ford | title = Review: ABC's 'LOST' | url= |date=September 22, 2004 | | accessdate=2007-08-04}}{{cite web | last=Ahrens | first=Frank | title = 'Lost' Fans Find A Niche on the Internet | url= |date=December 4, 2005 | | accessdate=2007-08-04}} In the years after the show's cancellation, Alessandra Stanley of the Australian newspaper ''[[The Age]]'' remembers ''Carnivàle'' as a "smart, ambitious series that move[s] unusual characters around an unfamiliar setting imaginatively and even with grace, but that never quite quit the surly bonds of serial drama."{{cite web |last=Stanley |first=Alessandra |url= |title=Out of the blue yonder, it's surf noir | |date=April 24, 2008 |accessdate=2008-05-11}} ''[[The A.V. Club]]'' dwelled on ''Carnivàle'''s [[cliffhanger ending]] in a piece on unanswered TV questions and called the show "a fantastically rich series with a frustratingly dense mythology".{{cite web |authors= Steven Hyden, Josh Modell, Noel Murray, Keith Phipps, Tasha Robinson |url= |title=What's up with the smoke monster?: 16 unanswered TV questions | |date=April 24, 2008 |accessdate=2008-05-11}} === Fandom === [[Image:Michael J Anderson 1.jpg|thumb|Actor [[Michael J. Anderson]] ([[Characters of Carnivàle#Samson|Samson]]) at CarnyCon 2006.]] Like other [[cult television]] shows, ''Carnivàle'' gained a respectable following of dedicated viewers. ''Carnivàle'' fans referred to themselves as "Carnies" or "Rousties" ([[roustabout]]s), terms adopted from the show.{{cite web |url= |title = Summary of CarnyCon 2006 | month=August | year=2006 | | accessdate=2007-08-08}} ''Carnivàle'''s complexity and subliminal mythology spawned dedicated fansites, although most discussion took place on independent internet forums. Show creator Daniel Knauf actively participated in online fandom and offered story- and mythology-related clues. He also gave insight into reasons for Carnivàle's cancellation on a messageboard before speaking to the press. As of September 2007, he is still in contact with the show's fandom and posts semi-regularly on Carnivàle messageboards.

One year after Carnivàle's cancellation, a major Carnivàle convention called CarnyCon 2006 Live! was organized by fans. It took place in Woodland Hills, Californiamarker on August 21–23, 2006. Many of the show's cast and crew attended the event and participated in discussion panels, which were recorded and made available on DVD afterwards.


Despite its short two-season run, Carnivàle received numerous awards and nominations. The show's inaugural season received nominations for seven Emmy Awards in 2004, winning five including "Outstanding Art Direction For A Single-camera Series" and "Outstanding Costumes For A Series" for the pilot episode "Milfay", "Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-Camera Series" for the episode "Pick A Number", "Outstanding Hairstyling For A Series" for the episode "After the Ball Is Over", and "Outstanding Main Title Design". In 2005, the second season received eight further Emmy nominations without a win.

Other awards include but are not limited to:

International reception and broadcasters

HBO president Chris Albrecht stated that Carnivàle was "not a big show for foreign [distribution]," but did not go into more detail. Reviews however indicate that the show's cryptic mythology and inaccessibility to the casual viewer were major factors. Nevertheless, Carnivàle was sold to several foreign networks and was distributed to HBO channels abroad. The DVD releases of Carnivàle extended the availability of the show further.

Countries or regions and the corresponding channels that broadcasted Carnivàle are:


On June 9, 2005, a lawsuit was filed in United States district court by Los Angeles writer Jeff Bergquist. He claimed that the creators of Carnivàle did not originate the idea for the show, but rather stole it from his unpublished novel Beulah, a quirky drama set amid a traveling carnival during the Depression that Bergquist had been working on since the 1980s. Bergquist sought both recognition and punitive damages by arguing that HBO and Carnivàle creator Daniel Knauf violated his copyright on Beulah, but HBO and Knauf denied any claims as having "absolutely no merit." The case was dismissed with prejudice on February 17, 2006.


  1. Per several DVD audio commentaries by the producers
  2. Nominations available as PDF for 2004 and 2005. Retrieved on 2007-11-01.
  3. (Registration required to access case documents).

External links

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