DVD REVIEW: Carnivàle

HBO
Series •••• Picture/Sound •••• Extras ••••
The avatars of good and evil continue to clash in the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression. Production values on all 12 episodes are feature-film-worthy. The lighting is simply exquisite: Shadows on bodies and objects are both sinister and inviting during night scenes, and the oppressive glare of days spent on wide, flat land is as vivid as anything you'll see on the silver screen. The age-lined faces are true to the period, with the exception of a few sets of too-white teeth. The dirt-brown grime is omnipresent and palpable, and nature is especially potent during a precognitive nuclear sandstorm and a soul-cleansing deluge of rain. The surround channels are put to best use with the show's exotically enveloping theme, and they also do an acceptable job of delineating the hustle and bustle of carnival life (constant stake-hammering, tent-pitching, and barker-bellowing). Extras are meaty, especially four fascinating "Creating the Scene" dissections. The production team carries the load and the actors provide the levity on three commentaries, complete with occasional (and quite appropriate) bittersweet sniping at the series' undeserved cancellation. [TV-MA] English, Dolby Digital 5.1 and stereo; French and Spanish, Dolby Digital stereo; letterboxed (1.78:1) and anamorphic widescreen; six dual-layer discs.

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