Carnival Row and the Fantasy Buffet

Who wouldn’t want to see Tinkerbell as a vengeful murder-fairy? After watching Carnival Row, which attempts to disguise its true colors under a character menagerie and mysterious deaths, it’s clear the show really just wants to let its pixie denizens loose on the humans and other creatures merely inhabiting its world. That global, fairy-led revolution doesn’t quite happen in the first season, but you can see it coming. The boring city serving as a centerpiece is ripe for a winged reckoning.

Fantasy comes carrying baggage, audience lifting required before you can parse a world’s particulars. Disbelief is mandatory, as is accepting outdated mannerisms, dress, and technologies. Physical laws tend to bend and break as required, and the better tales manage to reconstruct a new reality that they obey and that the reader/viewer/drinker comes to accept. Break down the preconceptions, build up new ones.

Carnival Row is no different in this regard, and while stereotypes linger around its edges like a familiar disease, the core cast carries the show’s conceits capably. Unfortunately, the main story pales next to the broader world hinted at through flashbacks, side shows, and an introductory sequence demanding a more epic tale than what’s ultimately on offer. It’s not bad, but while the camera wanted my eyes on Detective Legolas, they lingered on the multi-species crowd wandering the background. I wanted the full fantasy buffet, and Carnival Row insists on small morsels.

Speaking of morsels – yum? – there’s more of, well, most everything at the usual rounds. Swing by to take a peek at STARSHOT, BLAST’EM, PARAGON’S FALL, and other such delights. None of’em have fairies, but all of’em have things that fly.

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