1934, America. The Dustbowl. A fugitive named Ben Hawkins finds refuge within a traveling carnival comprised of a tarot card reader and her catatonic/ telekinetic mother, a blind mentalist, a bearded lady, and conjoined twins, amongst others. The carnival is owned by the mysterious and unseen Management, who has designs on the young Hawkins, for the boy is concealing an untapped gift: he can heal the lame and raise the dead--at a price. Ben also finds himself disturbed by cryptic and prophetic dreams, which he shares with a Methodist preacher in California, Brother Justin Crowe. Brother Justin, convinced by his dreams he is following God's will, has begun to practice his own extraordinary talents, although the preacher's plans increasingly lead to disturbing and tragic consequences. In this "last great age of magic," Ben Hawkins and Justin Crowe are moving toward a great conflict between Good and Evil, although it not yet clear on which sides these men will stand.
Imagine: a Depression-era fantasy told through a bunch of "carnies" in a traveling carnival. When I read that description, I went on a hunt to get my hands on a copy.
It was dark and bitter and slow. And it ended somewhat abruptly at the end of the second season. But it was a fantastic ride. Hauntingly beautiful, but soul-sucking and grinding at the same time.
|Nick Stahl as "Ben Hawkins", and |
Michael J. Anderson as "Samson"
|Jonesy & the mother-daughter cootch show, Rita Sue and Libby|
|Lila, the Bearded Lady and Ruthie, the snake charmer|
The characters were both fantastic yet real; hard times called for hard decisions and it was impossible to point out a single character and say "that's one of the good guys."
|Libby & Sofie|
|Sofie acted as interpreter for her catatonic fortune teller mother|
|Iris, sister of Brother Justin|
|Iris and her Brother Justin|