Sunday, May 08, 2005

Carnivale: Did HBO Declare Show's Over?

I just started watching Carnivale, the HBO show about a ragtag carnival scraping by in the 1930s Depression-era dustbowl days. In fact, I’ve only seen the first two episodes of the first season on DVD as I don’t get the fancy-schmancy cable-type channels.

But what I saw was wondrous: great characters, beautiful and strange depictions of rural Oklahoma and fertile California, and a storyline that had already put its claws around my story-hungry heart. Magic, mayhem, and madness lurked around and within the delightfully oddball characters, from the bearded lady down to the sad and wizened and diminutive ringleader. The first inklings of disastrous and magical events were just starting to take shape, and I rejoiced in knowing that I had latched onto a show that would be on agenda for a longtime to come.

Except not.

Rumors are now swirling that Carnivale has been put out to pasture after its second season on HBO.

From Ain’t It Cool News:

Fans of Carnivale woke up this morning to some very bad news. Beth Blighton, trusted source of Carnycon and she-who-knows-all posted that an "unimpeachable source" had confirmed that Carnivale is being cancelled.

I used to think that the cancellation of quality shows that hadn’t quite found a wide audience was the domain of the broadcast networks. But, sadly, even the mighty HBO, it seems, is making a sacrifice to the mighty Gods of Ratings.


Joel Caris said...

I imagine this is right but I sure wish it wasn't. I watched the first season of Carnivale recently on DVD, as well, and it was fantastic. The first two shows are nothing compared to what gets going later in the season. From what I hear, the second season was also quite good, so I'm looking forward to that. But I'm definitely going to be sad if they can't finish up the story, which it sounds like is going to be the case. Damn.

Eric Berlin said...

Since I've only seen two episodes, I have some good stuff to look forward to until the end comes.

Apparently, the second season concludes one-third of the orginal vision... which would have fallen into place with The Sopranos model of six seasons with 12-13 episodes per.

Yeah, it's sad. I could tell right away that this show had serious potential.

I suppose it just never found an audience on HBO? I wasn't aware that HBO even cared that much about that kind of stuff, as long as it had quality shows that had good press and something of a buzz.

Oh well.

Joel Caris said...

I haven't actually researched, so I don't know how acurate this is, but from I heard the show had numbers similar to Deadwood, which was renewed. Based on some of the stuff I've read, it seems that the cost of production was a big piece of it. Sounds like it may have been a pretty pricey show.

Like I said, though, not sure on any of that.

Perhaps DVD sales were lackluster, as well. Though I know personally, as much as I love Carnivale and would love to own it, I just don't have $80 to drop on 13 episodes. Sure, it's quality, but HBO shows on DVD are still overpriced.

Might not have been a big buzz show, either. It's pretty dry at first glance--it takes a couple episodes (at least it did for me) before you really start to get into it and realize just how much is going on, and just how much potential there is.

Eric Berlin said...

Interesting about Carnivale and Deadwood. It could well have been a production cost thing. At any rate, the first two eps look absolutely gorgeous in that worldweary yet wondrous kind of way.

I don't know how anyone buys much of anything electronic media related nowadays. I rely on Netflix for much of my viewing, and get the occasional season package to review (Dynasty Season One -- just finished watching!) or for a gift.

Joel Caris said...

I rely greatly on Netflix, but there's still a lot I like to own myself. TV wise, if Joss Whedon created it, I'm going to own it. Have Firefly, all the Buffy and Angel sets. Also am planning to pick up Arrested Development (btw, did you see the aint it cool story that says it's going to be renewed for two full seasons? It better be true) and I have a few other series I wanted to own, like Dead Like Me and Sportsnight and Wonderfalls.

Of course, finding time to watch these things is a whole other story.

Eric Berlin said...

Oh man, you know I'm a Whedon guy, but I can't see shelling out the cheddar to buy all that stuff on DVD. I guess I'm not a big owning DVDs guy. My wife's all about the romantic comedies for the rainy day... but even with my faves, it's kind of rare that I go back to it. The Sopranos is a speical category, as are certain things... Band of Brothers comes to mind, that reward repeat viewings.

I'll likely build up on the Whedon over the years. DVD sets are definitely great to throw on the holiday lists which are always demanded of me... and which I have the hardest time fulfilling.

* Site re-design for
* Flat screen TV?
* A house?

Don't really go real well for holiday time gift opening sessions, I'm afraid.

Eric Berlin said...

That's phenomenal news regarding Arrested Development, and I hope to God (or your Higher Being of Choice) it's true... I've gotta get me over to AICN to check it...

Thanks Joel!

Anonymous said...

I work for Comcast cable in Portland oregon and we got word today that Carnivale is indeed cancelled. I talked to our HBO rep and she said it might be a money thing, but for people to complain about it to HBO because alot of people complained about their show The Wire not being renewed as well and they decided to renew The Wire instead of Carnivale.

Just some inside info for you all. I have already posted my complaint, Carnivale will be sorely missed for sure!

Eric Berlin said...

That's like the worst choice ever: cancel Carnivale or The Wire? How about taking one or two less crap movies this month that you show over-and-over (at least -- this was the case back in the day when I got HBO).

On a selfish level, I'm way more invested in The Wire, which is truly one of the best cop/crime shows ever produced. If you absolutely had to save one of the two shows, I'd pick The Wire without hesitation.