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Premiere September 14, 2003
Finale March 27, 2005
Creator Daniel Knauf
Network/Provider HBO
Style 60-minute fantasy drama
Company Twilight Time Films,
3 Arts Entertainment,
Home Box Office
Seasons 2
Episodes 24
Origin USA

Carnivàle follows a traveling carnival as it wends its way across the Dust Bowl, focusing on Ben Hawkins, a mysterious 18-year-old fugitive with hidden talents who is taken in by the carnival, and Brother Justin, 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.

To each generation is born a creature of light and a creature of darkness. This is about all Carnivale is willing to give us. The rest, we sort of have to pick up on our own. Here's what we know. Every generation produces two Avatars: one light and one dark. Neither are bound to act according to their avataric designation, but both are driven by dreams and visions which guide them along their path.

Ben Hawkins and Justin Crowe are the current generation's avatars. Ben, the Avatar of Light, resides in Oklahoma until he is picked up by a traveling carnival heading south, and Justin, the Avatar of Dark, lives in the town of Mintern, California. Both men possess avataric powers, including, but not limited to: healing, telepathy, telekinesis, psychometry, illusion, and more. While Ben is more inclined to heal others, Justin embraces his darkner nature and uses his abilities to acquire power and control over others.

The two other key players in the mix are Sofie Bojakshiya and the Tattooed Man. Sophie is the daughter of Apollonia Bojakshiya, and has spent her youth and her adolescence vocalizing her mother's tarot card readings to their clients. Sophie is very closely bound to Apollonia, due mostly to her mother's comatose state. The younger girl is her mother's only caretaker and, from what we see, the only one aside from Professor Lodz and perhaps a few other gifted individuals, who can hear her mother's thoughts. But Sofie is far more than a simple carnie girl. She is the Omega, a mysterious role which was left unexplained at the close of the second season.

The Tattooed Man, on the other hand, is an entity known as the Usher of Destruction. His motives remain murky and unclear, but he is a powerful, otherworldly force that may assume physical form only once in the course of human history. Unsurprisingly, the Usher ties himself to Brother Justin, augmenting the preacher's power and setting him on a very special trajectory. Unfortunately, the true purpose of the Usher, and his role in the Trinity detonation, remain a mystery.

Season 1 establishes that the current age is the last age of avatars. Mankind will "forever trade away wonder for reason" with the detonation of the atom bomb. Thus, the show starts in 1934 and the final event takes place in 1945. Since, during various visions and dreams, we have seen Ben, Justin and Sofie all present at the detonation, we can assume that the three of them will, in some form or another, survive until 1945. What we don't know is how they get there or what they do once they're there.



Actor Character Duration
Main Cast 1 2
Michael J. Anderson Edgar "Samson" Leonhardt * *
Adrienne Barbeau Ruthie * *
Patrick Bauchau Ernst Lodz * o
Clancy Brown Justin Crowe * *
Debra Christofferson Lila Villanueva * *
Tim DeKay Clayton "Jonesy" Jones * *
Clea DuVall Sofie Bojakshiya * *
Cynthia Ettinger Rita Sue Dreifuss *
John Fleck Gecko *
Carla Gallo Libby Dreifuss * *
Toby Huss Felix "Stumpy" Dreifuss * *
Amy Madigan Iris Crowe * *
Diane Salinger Apollonia Bojakshiya * o
Nick Stahl Ben Hawkins * *
Karyne Steben Alexandria Potter *
Sarah Steben Caladonia Potter *
Brian Turk Gabriel * *
Ralph Waite Norman Balthus * *
Orange/Red/o indicates a recurring or guest role during that season.
Dark Green indicates top billing during that season.
Supporting/Recurring Cast 1 2
K Callan Eleanor McGill * *
Robert Knepper Tommy Dolan * *
Scott MacDonald Burley * *
Bill Moseley Possum * *
John Savage Henry "Hack" Scudder * *
Blake Shields Osgood * *
Don Swayze The Usher of Destruction * *
Amanda Aday Dora Mae Dreifuss *
Daniel Browning Smith Rollo the Rubberboy *
John Carroll Lynch Varlyn Stroud *


Season  Premiere Finale #
Season One September 14, 2003 November 30, 2003 12
Season Two January 9, 2005 March 27, 2005 12


DVD Releases

Title Release Discs
Season Sets  (Region 1)
The Complete First Season December 7, 2004 purchase 1
The Complete Second Season July 18, 2006 purchase 1

Soundtrack Releases

Title Release Music By Tracks Discs
Season 1 Soundtrack December 14, 2004 Jeff Beal 26 1