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Carnivale 11/9

Old 11-09-03, 10:37 PM
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Carnivale 11/9

Insomnia: Ben tries to stave off the torments of his dreams by staying awake, but the lack of sleep is taking its toll and In Mintern, Iris reaches out to Brother Justin over the radio airwaves, and Tommy gets a surprise reaction when he reaches out to Iris.

Short episode this week; clocking in at just over 45 minutes. Now that Brother Justin is free to wander, it'll be interesting to see what happens with him.
Old 11-10-03, 01:40 AM
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That scene in the asylum was vicious with that guy cracking his head on the wall. Made me cringe to watch it. I definitely like that this show his picked up in the last couple of episodes, and enjoy watching it quite a bit. Peeking into all the sideshows was very interesting, and the snakecharming coupled with the sex scene was extremely sexually charged.

Can't wait to see what happens next week.
Old 11-10-03, 10:09 AM
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Don't really know what to think, but Jonesy's got his jones on! Osgood's comment was funny coming from him.

Ruthie really is the temptation (via a snake charmer, no less) for Ben.

Will Ben get a good night's sleep ever again?

Samson's power is waning. Lodz is gaining his mojo back.

I wouldn't want to hear Sophia's mom's cries in my head, not after all those visuals.
Old 11-10-03, 10:53 AM
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Great episode But ony three episodes left? Is that the end of the series or just the season? I can't see how they are going to wrap this up in just three episodes (especially considering the pace they have been setting).
Old 11-10-03, 10:58 AM
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There were lots of brutal images in this episode. What Lodz saw when he held the fob, Sophie seeing her mother's rape, the nut job pounding his head into the wall, and of course Jonesy and Rita Sue

It wasn't as good as the last few episodes, but they definitely had a lot of freaky things going on. I think my favorite part this week was the fireball show. It's about time they actually showed the carnies at work again. Turtle boy and a man eating chicken That was the kind of stuff I was wanting when things were so slow early on.
Old 11-10-03, 11:54 AM
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Originally posted by DeputyDave
Great episode But ony three episodes left? Is that the end of the series or just the season? I can't see how they are going to wrap this up in just three episodes (especially considering the pace they have been setting).
I believe it's the end of the season. I kinda remember when Nick Stahl was on The Kevin & Bean Show, he alluded to the fact that this was a regular series program. I could be wrong. But I really doubt that they are going to wrap up everything in the next 3 weeks. Plus it's getting pretty good ratings, so I'm sure HBO is happy with it.

Chris
Old 11-10-03, 12:39 PM
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Did anyone else think that looked like Skutter that was raping Sophie's mom?
Old 11-10-03, 01:36 PM
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So who is the guy with the Tattoo on his back? We've seen images of him in episode1, this current episode, and next week's episode.

Could it be Justin?
Old 11-10-03, 03:17 PM
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Peop[le have been freeze framing, rewinding and microscopicly analyzing that first dream sequence. They say the guy in the first dream with the tattoo of a tree on his back is Justin. Apparently you can find pictures at www.carnivale.org. I haven't gone there to see for myself, because I think those people must be insane and I don't really want to ruin any surprise in store.
Old 11-10-03, 03:59 PM
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Originally posted by Tom Banjo
Did anyone else think that looked like Skutter that was raping Sophie's mom?
That was my first guess but my gf "felt" it was Lodz. Hmmm... it opens up some possibilities.
Old 11-10-03, 05:09 PM
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Pure speculation, but if it IS Justin then maybe the sequence is of something that hasn't happened yet.
Old 11-10-03, 05:12 PM
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Originally posted by Tom Banjo
Pure speculation, but if it IS Justin then maybe the sequence is of something that hasn't happened yet.
Eeeeeewwwww!!!!! Paralyzed old lady sex....
Old 11-10-03, 07:14 PM
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(SLIGHT SPOILERS) CARNIVALE: Can It Deliver On It’s Substantial ‘Promises’?

I hate to be the Doubting Thomas, but I’m trying to keep my expectations of HBO’s new series CARNIVALE under control. In my many years in front of the boob tube, there have been only two television series which so raised my expectations – and subsequently delivered on (and frequently exceeded) the hype: TWIN PEAKS and BABYLON 5.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that I mention these two programs in my discussion of CARNIVALE. It should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen both CARNIVALE and TWIN PEAKS that the producers of the former have gone to some trouble to capture the feel of the latter, nabbing diminutive actor Michael J. Anderson as the pint-sized “Ringleader” of the Carnie troupe, as well as other former “Peaks” personnel like director Tim Hunter (I’ll bet that there are other Peaks-links that I’m overlooking). But those stalwart Peaks-fans know that other shows have tried for that TWIN PEAKS feeling to varying degrees, but most have proven to be self-consciously “weird” imitations of Lynch’s naturally odd universe.

So far, CARNIVALE has not disappointed, so perhaps I should cut the show some slack. However, it should be noted that while many mysteries have been “hinted at”, very little in the way of substantiation or explanation has been supplied as of yet. To be fair, the show has been revealing a bit more in recent episodes than in the earlier ones, but we are still a LONG way from knowing enough about any of the characters’ backgrounds or motives to trust them very far – including the enigmatic young man who (apparently) holds the key to unlocking the primary mystery behind CARNIVALE, and who is also the show’s “protagonist”. CARNIVALE is still playing it’s cards close to the vest, and not enough of the Big Picture has yet been revealed to make any real evaluations (other than those based entirely on conjecture). Fortunately, the show’s producers have taken another note from the David Lynch Television Notebook, and have introduced not one, but many mysteries to be solved over the course of the show (which prompts me to ask – is CARNIVALE intended as a one-season deal, or are there to be additional seasons?); many of which will likely prove to be inexorably linked to other mysteries.

BABYLON 5 would, at first glance, appear to have very little in common with Lynch’s tale set in the earth-bound pacific northwest; and – as surface elements go – the two share very little in the way of plot and story. However, the two series share more than the odd coincidence when it comes to structure and theme; characteristics that both also share with CARNIVALE.

First, the obvious… All three series are sequential, like a soap opera. This format has been around for some time and has been shared by many shows over the years since the advent of television programming. However, the format has never been very successful outside of daytime programming and the odd “prime time soap opera” (e.g. – DALLAS, DYNASTY, and – more recently – the show 24). Television producers wish to INCREASE a show’s viewership over time, but a continuing storyline typically has the opposite effect, losing viewers who have missed one or two episodes and who stop watching out of frustration. Such shows also rarely gain new viewers along the way for the same reason. Therefore it’s rare that sequential storylines are “greenlit” for production.

Information is doled out in small parcels throughout the series, often appearing to be insignificant details, and often only proven to be significant plot points many episodes down the line (CARNIVALE, being new, has yet to prove itself in this regard, but I think it’s safe to say that most of the “clues” that have been dropped so far will come in to play in future episodes).

“The owls are not what they seem.” This phrase will be very familiar to Peaks-fans, but it is also perfectly representative of all three series. For those who lean more toward the B5 universe, G’Kar also summed up this theme nicely in the first episode when he tells Lyta Alexander that “No one (on Babylon 5) is exactly what he (or she) seems.” Hell, I’d be surprised if we don’t hear a similar line from one of CARNIVALE’s mysterious characters sometime in the near future. Sure, it’s easy to establish a character and then have them do something opposite to viewer expectations, but to do so while maintaining any kind of credibility in the character or as a writer is quite a trick indeed. We see this done regularly (more unsuccessfully than otherwise) in the world of cinema where decent writers command a hefty fee (and hack writers command only slightly less), but to pull this off successfully on a television series’ budget is rather rare indeed. TWIN PEAKS is an arguable case here; much of the story was written or changed on-the-fly as the show went on (case-in-point: Lynch/Frost never intended to resolve Laura Palmer’s murder; it was only after they succumbed to network pressure that the “Who Killed Laura Palmer” storyline was resolved). Naturally, this resulted in a much more linear narrative in many cases, but the astute viewer will catch references early on in TWIN PEAKS which do not effectively “pay off” until later in the season, proving that not all plot threads were conceived and executed on-the-fly. However, as complex as TWIN PEAKS structure seemed at the time, nothing could prepare me for the clever devices created and deployed by BABYLON 5 series creator (and primary writer) J. Michael Straczynski. JMS (as he’s known on the internet) is the unchallenged master of adapting literary devices to a television format. He frequently flashes back and forth along the show’s timeline (which extends from ten years prior to the show’s first episode to a thousand or more years into the “future”), showing us cataclysmic events in the characters’ futures, but challenging viewers as to exactly how the characters get to these points and where they go from there. CARNIVALE hasn’t yet proven to be so ambitious in it’s structure, but it’s still comparatively “young” in comparison (assuming, of course, that the show will extend beyond it’s current season). Even giving benefit of the doubt that CARNIVALE will carry a multi-season storyline, I’m starting to get just a bit impatient with the “slow flow of the info”. I’ve seen ads on HBO that denote only a couple of episodes are left in the season for CARNIVALE, and I still know very little of consequence about any of these characters. That’s not necessarily a direct criticism of the characters themselves nor of the writing; I very much enjoy most of the characters, and each one has a very distinctive personality (and – apparently – an agenda and/or secret). Of the very talented cast (all of whom perform admirably), I would single out Clancy Brown, Michael J. Anderson, Clayton Jones, Patrick Bauchau, and – of course – Nick Stahl as the integral and mysterious Ben Hawkins.

Clancy Brown deserves a friggin’ Emmy for his angst-fraught performance as the enigmatic (and by implication, borderline psychotic) Brother Justin Crowe, a special man with undeniably gifts – though the source of those gifts could be God or a force more sinister. These gifts are religious in nature, and Brother Justin is a man of serious conviction. His “talents” are obviously tied in with Ben’s gift of restoring life, but their stories have yet to cross (Brother Justin’s story has thusfar remained independent of the Carnies’ stories). There’s also something unwholesome about the relationship that Justin shares with his spinster sister, Iris (played with multi-layered intensity by Amy Madigan). After last night’s episode “Insomnia”, I’m certain that there’s more than a minor incestuous overtone to this brother-sister relationship. I personally find Brother Justin to be the most enigmatic character in a show replete with enigmatic characters. Some might consider Brown’s performance to be “over the top”, but I find that he walks the line with the talent of tightwire artist and nudges the boundaries without ever going too overboard. The lingering question, though, in regards to Brown’s character, is exactly where does he stand on the scale from “black” to “white”? HBO has been promoting recent shows with the tagline of “The lines have been drawn between good and evil…”, so on what side does Rev. Crowe sit and how will he figure into the life of Ben Hawkins and the future of CARNIVALE?

And what of Sampson and Lodz? Both are at odds with one another, and both are the only ones to see or converse with “management”. Presumably, both do the bidding of “management”, but there is no question that Lodz and Sampson share an adversarial relationship – though it’s remained civil so far. Again, one must question the motives of both of these characters. They both see significant value in Ben Hawkins (because of Lodz’s preternatural/supernatural gifts, he seems to know far more about Hawkins than does Samson, who completely relies upon what he is told by “management” – which amounts to very little. Both parties seem locked into battle over who will hold influence over young Mr. Hawkins, but neither seems particularly “evil” or “good” (perhaps intentionally so). Any theories? I must admit that I currently have none myself… not enough information about either character has yet been disclosed. I’ll tell you one thing though, I’m having a grand old time figuring it out. I’m just hoping that the creative minds behind CARNIVALE aren’t planning a “fireball show” of their own!

Eric

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