As summer slowly winds down and the autumn television season starts to rev up, a new round of series has been making their entrances. There is a lot to sort through, but one, in particular, jumped out at me this past week — Amazon’s “Carnival Row.”
Maybe it was the Victorian steampunk vibes, the fae/fairies, the fact that it’s a truly original story not based on a film or book series, or perhaps it was Orlando Bloom in a bowler hat and a sweet coat (…sorry, what was I talking about). Whatever the reason, I decided to give it a try. And so far, I’m glad I did.
Keep in mind, I’m only three episodes in, so I reserve the right to change my opinion.
The world of “Carnival Row” is one filled with fantastical creatures who have fled their homelands as refugees, seeking shelter in a land that is home to those who are responsible for their plight. As you might have guessed, they’re treated as intruders and forced to live and work as second class citizens. You know, pure fantasy stuff, and in no way relevant to our world.
The series central story is that of star-crossed lovers, Philo (Orlando Bloom), a detective and former soldier, and Vignette (Cara Delevingne), a revolutionary, refugee fae. While their characters are interesting and intriguing, their romance is not the series strongest asset. Thankfully, there are hints that they may have plans to expand their scope.
For those of you looking for a “Thrones” replacement, this noir world is a definite contender. They very quickly establish a rich history and world-building aspect that could lead to some truly fantastical storytelling.
Much like “Thrones” in its first season, “Carnival Row” seems to be finding its way when it comes to their portrayal of the more “intimate” moments. Nudity for nudity’s sake is distracting and detracts from the overall story. That being said, for better or worse, as a new series they may just be trying to both attract and appease what it sees as its audience.
(Frankly, the show would benefit from a female creative presence…but that’s a topic for another day.)
Overall, these shortcomings don’t outweigh the good. There’s a lot going on, but so far, it feels like they know where they’re going.
It’s a series that very quickly pulls you into its world, both with its production value (the level of detail is mindblowing) and good old fashioned storytelling. It’s a tale that’s just familiar enough to give you an emotional connection but is removed enough reality to still feel like an escape, which is something we all need a little of in our lives and television schedules.
Okay, on that note I’ll leave you to it. As always, be brave and be kind.
…just for fun: