In the current glut of reboots, revamps, abandoned series left to flail, and draining every single last drop of revenue out of dead franchises leaving them in bleached, cadaverous ruin, I mentioned in my last post how our culture is starving for new stories.
Part of the reason behind the massive momentum of a series like Game of Thrones, up until it suffered its horrendous creative demise, was its originality. Folks who weren’t fans of fantasy embraced the new world of Westeros, probably out of sheer imaginative cachectia.
In light of such sparse content of new stories, settings, creatures, and characters, I’m a bit stunned by the lack of buzz about Carnival Row, the new series by René Echevarria and Travis Beacham and starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevigne.
From its dark setting, Lovecraftian environment, multi-nation worldbuild, very cool races, and sharp writing, Carnival Row is a breath of fresh storytelling I’ve been craving.
And without spoiling anything…Cthulhu.
For many years now (especially since watching that dreaded last season of GoT), I’ve been pleading for any new worlds and original stories set in them. Carnival Row pulls that off in spades.
Bloom’s character is dour and brooding, and actually has good reason. His conflict unfolds over the span of the entire season, carefully unfolding and intertwining into the Burgue, his city and its politics. Delevingne’s character of the embittered war refugee is both gripping and justified.
It ‘s not a perfect show; there are a few glaring plot pits (EVERY time a Pix takes flight, they lift one leg in a Peter Pan manner that drove me bananas. By episode four I was screaming at the screen for them to “stop DOING that!” And the big villain reveal plays out a bit…ridiculous. Not to brag, but I rewrote that scene into an epic reveal/battle that would have worked perfectly in the time it took me to make a pot of coffee).
But, Carnival Row overcomes these forgiveables with sheer will and dense metaphor for our modern, troubling times. It actually gets darker over the last four episodes, a refreshing change from shows that fail to cross the finish line as they gag and sputter, deprived of any heart or blood from their writers these days.
I’m not sure if I live in a cave, or if it’s because it’s an Amazon production, but for whatever reason, ignore your hesitation and go find this show. It’s certainly a relief from the average rehashed, reheated, leftover fare we have all gotten used to choking on.