Carnival Row, divided the editorial team. Simone and I both watched the series and came to have conflicting opinions on some points, while we managed to find common points on others.
If you have a way, I recommend you read his review that you can find Thu.
From June, when the teaser trailer of the series was out, day by day the hype for this series grew. However, as often happens when too much is expected from a series, a book, a video game, hopes are almost always dashed.
Unfortunately Carnival Row left me with exactly that sort of bitterness in my mouth that I couldn't be satisfied with the product.
The choice of the cast is very interesting, we have Orlando Bloom which returns to fantasy after many years (if I remember correctly eighteen), Cara Delevigne, Jared Harris (already seen of The Expanse, Sherlock Holmes - Games of Shadows, Fringe and The Terror), Indira varma (Game of Thrones, Luther and Rome)
Carnival Row - Synopsis
The Carnival Row series takes place in a world traceable to the United Kingdom of the Victorian era, in the city of Burge, a gloomy London, submerged by clouds of smoke linked to a rapidly rising industrialization, inhabited by normal humans and fairies.
The latter immigrated to the "Largest city in the world" following a war in their territory that forced them to flee in the hope of finding a new and freer place to live. (Deluded! Ed)
The story told revolves around a series of murders and sees the main and secondary protagonists, taking turns in a charade with too many pindaric flights to arrive at a solution, which alternate, in the story more or less connected to each other.
The painful notes of Carnival Row
Let's start with the acting of the main actors, Orlando Bloom and Cara Develigne.
Neither of the two protagonists manages to make the viewer enthralled with their own story and even less with their own acting. If we can take as an expressive mono actor, at least years ago, Nicolas Cagehere are these two together I can be even less expressive than he is.
Although the themes that the characters face, in the few episodes of this first season, are situations that force any living being to make choices and grow, these choices do not transpire absolutely in the characters, if not in two moments in the series itself and that's it.
I found myself waiting with more interest for the stories that revolve around the two characters, rather than the stories of the characters themselves.
Jared Harris and Indira Varma always manage to keep the narrative strings tight on them, showing their feelings and making them shine through all the episodes of the series. So also other supporting actors, such as Tourmaline (Karla Crome), Agreus Astrayon (David Gyasi) and Imogen Spurnrose (Tamzin Merchant).
It is these last two characters that manage to make viewers understand one of the key points of the series thanks to their interpretation.
Themes in the series
The Carnival Row series deals with a series of very current issues with a critical spirit and without the slightest trace of irony which, in the long run, makes the viewing of the various episodes heavy.
The fundamental theme is linked to the immigration of a people in the city of Burge and to the increase, during the series itself, of the friction between the human population and that fairy, made up of puck, fairies, trow, kobolds.
These frictions do not arise from xenophobia, just as it is not xenophobia that moves frictions in our world, but from aprophobia, the fear of the poor.
The poor, also in this case, is the immigrant, who had to flee an unsustainable situation in his country, in this case a war. In order to work, this poor man is lowered to accept the most degrading and humble jobs and to be paid less than the human worker, just to work. Does it remind you of anything?
The immigrant, in the series, is hated not so much because of his weak status in society, as for the classic themes of hatred as an end in itself towards the poor and the different.
But has it always been like this? From what we seem to have understood during the series no. Although we do not talk in depth about what happens in the past, it seems that at first the fairy beings were ostracized, but not at an extreme level as in the "current world", so much so that long-standing friendships between human artists and fairies persist and are an interesting imprint for the series.
A love story for its own sake
Again we find ourselves analyzing one of the key points of the series. The love story between the two protagonists.
Started in the past, as we are told in a flashback in an episode, this has consequences in the present, but it is forced as if the screenwriter René Echevarria necessarily wanted to bring the characters closer to the audience. And what better way than to make them fall in love? Here it reminds me so much of an episode of the Italian television series "Boris“, Precisely when the writers make random and questionable choices about the stars.
In addition to this unfortunate choice of screenplay, there is not the slightest harmony between the protagonists, there is no real transport or passion. René Echevarria had given us much better in Deep Space Nine.
Again I found a more interesting love story than that of two other "secondary" characters in the series, and their emotional, mental and psychological growth made Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevigne's predestined love foreground.
Too much meat on the fire, too few episodes
The series consists of only eight episodes. Here it would have taken at least double to try to deal with all the issues that are fed to the viewer. They are started to deal with topics such as hatred for the different, the sick, excessive industrialization and abandonment of their origins, and all these topics are either dispersed throughout the series or deliberately abandoned.
I was literally thrilled (F4) when I found myself wondering: "But what happened to that interesting character?". Or: "But why does that character make those choices?", And find no answer to any of this.
It almost seems that all these little ideas have not been gutted enough for lack of time, and, unfortunately, I almost hope that in a possible second season they will be treated.
One of the many questions is: but if the republic of Burge is so strong, how did it manage to lose the war against the Pact?
Photography, costumes and special effects in Carnival Row
The series makes costumes and photography its strong point. The grayness that cloaks the city of Burge is very evocative and clearly reveals the forced industrialization of the city. It seems that this city came out of one of the stories of Charles Dickens, like Oliver Twist.
The clothes of the characters are reminiscent of the prevailing moralism of the Victorian era and, although there are few changes of dress in almost all the characters, this part of the series is not to be despised.
As is not to be despised photography, very well cared for and in some places this is deeply evocative, especially in some sequences in the ancestral homeland of the fairies.
The special effects and the use of greenscreen, however, leave a lot to be desired. Many external takes appear to be very fake despite the use of greenscreen. Honestly being such a high budget series I was deeply disappointed with the final result.
Despite the premises with which I would have approached the series, I was deeply disappointed with the final result. An initial investigation reminiscent of Alan Moore's “From Hell”, a second investigation of which absolutely nothing is understood except through narrative devices bordering on embarrassing, including dreams and memories brought to mind because they served the purpose.
An antagonist completely devoid of the slightest appeal and a final so obvious and trivial that already from the second episode you understood where it would go to parry.
The only positive note of the ending is the choice that is made, and which redeems in part, by one of the characters in the series.
Ultimately Carnival Row is a series whose potential has not been fully expressed. A missed opportunity to make a series something more than a social criticism of which, even if necessary, the need was not felt.