Monday, June 21, 2010

There's no justice...

My son and I are re-watching HBO's Carnivale.  The show originally ran for two season's, between 2003 and 2005.

I loved it at the time, and seeing it again reminds me of it's brilliance.  Some things I loved at the time (Hill Street Blues, Babylon 5) don't hold up well.  I don't know if I've changed or the times have changed.  I do know that Highlander is now unwatchable.  I can't believe that Christopher Lambert is dating Sophie Marceau.  In fact, I see it as evidence of some sort of nefarious conspiracy...

(image from la-star.com)

Carnivale however, holds up brilliantly.  It may be the most terrifying thing I've ever watched, and I'm including Twin Peaks in my list of comparisons.  Of course, Twin Peaks was on broadcast...

(image from John Kenneth Muir, on wordpress,com)

and we're not talking clumsy, bludgeoning, slasher flick terrifying.  We're talking quiet, disorienting, creepy terrifying.  The slasher flick, unless very well done, either bores me or merely grosses me out.  Carnivale combines the grinding, hopeless despair of the Dust Bowl with the savagery of ignorant poverty.  It throws in the voyeuristic creepiness of physical deformity, and contrasts it with the mundane details of the daily life of the exhibits in a freak show.  It adds the menace of a supernatural struggle between good and evil which only rarely manifests itself openly, but is at the same time ubiquitous.  Carnivale's opening credits scare the living hell out of me, and they're simply clips of news footage from the era.


  (images from btvision.com, starpulse.com & ign.com)

It was too good to last, of course.  HBO canceled it after two seasonsJust like Deadwood.  Just like Rome.  The difference is that I know how Deadwood ended; it's a matter of verifiable historical fact.  And I, Claudius is essentially the sequel to Rome, despite having been filmed 30 years earlier.  But I will never, ever know how Carnivale ends.  I think television interruptus  is even more frustrating than the other kind...

it never goes away.