There were several times this week that I had an opportunity to watch an ep of Carnivale season 2. But I never really felt like it. This morning I put the discs in the mail to return them.
Carnivale seems to have fallen prey to X-Files disease - and after only one season. If you remember, X-Files had that dual plotting going on - there were the weekly stories, strange mysteries and creatures and events, usually unrelated to other episodes. But you also had the "big story" - the alien invasion story that would pop up every few eps. A continuing plot line, connected to past episodes and referencing them.
The trap X-Files fell into was their attempt to keep the "big story" so vague. While it was amusing for the first couple years to watch a "big story" episode and marvel at how you ended up knowing even less than when you started, that was an awfully big challenge for the writers and when they had painted themselves into an insane corner, there was no getting out of it with any grace or style.
Carnivale had the same dual plotting going on. There were the individual Twilight Zonish episodes concerning life on the road with a carnival in the 1940s. Some of these were very, very good. You also had that "big story" of good vs. evil in the guise of Ben Hawkins and Brother Justin. The problem is that Season 2 opens with everything focused on the big story. And in the end, who cares? I mean, where can they go with this ultimate struggle? It doesn't matter who eventually triumphs because it is so obviously a fiction that you just can't get too wrapped up in it.
And hey, Ben Hawkins has Ruthie the snake charmer throwing herself at him and he just blankly keeps turning away. This guy is going to turn his back on Adrienne Barbeau?