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Carnivàle (HBO 2003-2005, Michael J. Anderson, Adrienne Barbeau)

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1934. The Dust Bowl. The last great age of magic. In a time of titanic sandstorms, drought and pestilence – all signs of God’s fury and harbingers of the Apocalypse – the final conflict between good and evil is about to begin. The battle will take place in the Heartland of an empire called America. And when it is over, man will forever trade away wonder for reason.

Carnivàle follows a traveling carnival as it wends its way across the Dust Bowl, focusing on a mysterious young fugitive with hidden talents who is taken in by the carnival, and on the charismatic, shadowy evangelist who will ultimately cross his path. The series takes place at a time of worldwide unrest, with evil on the rise around the globe and the Great Depression wreaking economic and social havoc here at home.

As they become aware of their abilities, Ben and Brother Justin find themselves wrenched from their lives to realize that the world they thought the knew — this tenuous, prosaic reality shared by humankind — is actually a chessboard upon which is played the ancient conflict between Light and Darkness, and they are key players in the battle.

In addition to Nick Stahl and Clancy Brown, cast regulars on CARNIVALE include Michael J. Anderson as Samson, who runs the show for Management; Adrienne Barbeau as Ruthie, the maternal figure of the carnival, as well as the snake charmer and mother to the strong man; Patrick Bauchau as Lodz, the mentalist who can see into the future and the past; Debra Christofferson as Lila, the carnival’s bearded lady; Tim DeKay as Jones, Samson’s right-hand man and the rousty manager; Clea DuVall, as Sofie, the tarot card reader and medium for her comatose mind-reader mother Apollonia, played by Diane Salinger; John Fleck as Gecko, deformed with a rare condition that makes his skin lizard-like; Amy Madigan, as Brother Justin’s loyal sister Iris; Karyne Steben and Sarah Steben as Siamese twins Alexandria and Caladonia; Brian Turk as Gabriel, the strong man. The carnival’s burlesque family consists of the emcee father Stumpy, played by Toby Huss; mother Rita Sue, played by Cynthia Ettinger; and daughters Dora Mae, played by Amada Aday, and Libby, played by Carla Gallo.

production details
USA | HBO | 24×50 minutes | Broadcast 14 September 2003 – 27 March 2005

Creator: Daniel Knauf
Executive Producers: Ronald D. Moore, Daniel Knauf, Howard Klein, Nicole Yorkin, Dawn Prestwich, Gregg Fienberg, David Knoller

cast
Michael J. Anderson as Samson
Adrienne Barbeau as Ruthie
Clancy Brown as Brother Justin
Debra Christofferson as Lila
Tim DeKay as Clayton Jones
Clea DuVall as Sofie
Cynthia Ettinger as Rita Sue Dreifuss
Carla Gallo as Libby Dreifuss
Toby Huss as Stumpy Dreifuss
Amy Madigan as Iris Crowe
Nick Stahl as Ben Hawkins
Brian Turk as Gabriel
Ralph Waite as Norman Belthus
John Fleck as Gecko
Blake Shields as Osgood
John Carroll Lynch as Varlyn Stroud