Critical Condition: Carnival Row

Carnival Row | Amazon Prime Video, from Friday

☆☆☆☆ The race to replace Game of Thrones has its latest entrant, with Amazon’s new Carnival Row, a series that combines fantasy, melodrama, ultraviolence, and strained political allegory. But, for now, the Thrones legacy seems safe: This new series reaches for credibility with gruesomeness and exaggeration, falling flat at every turn. It’s painful proof that a genre success cannot be reverse-engineered.” — Variety.

☆☆☆☆ “Amazon is pushing resolutely into the world of sci-fi and fantasy (in large part because Jeff Bezos is a genre fan), and its latest attempt to capture an audience with an epic story, Carnival Row, mixes deep mythological elements with a creatively bleak, timeless setting (recalling the Victorian era) and contemporary issues of race, class, immigration and sexual identity. It’s all ambitiously mashed together.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

☆☆☆ The main attraction of Carnival Row is, in fact, its incongruities—the familiar in unfamiliar places, an amalgamation of myths, tropes and themes wedded to each other despite their seeming incompatibilities. Not everything works in the show. But when it does, it takes flight.” — Wall Street Journal.

☆☆☆This is well-trodden genre territory, presenting fantastical creatures as persecuted outcasts (see: all things X-Men, for example), and Carnival Row — created by René Echevarria (The 4400) and Travis Beacham (Pacific Rim) — generally sticks to the usual plot devices … Amidst the pastiche and the sometimes-banal writing are some playful touches and charming stories.” — Entertainment Weekly.

☆☆☆☆ “The central story, a series of murders that take place in a world that looks and sounds like Victorian England — even though one characters proclaims that she’s living in the seventh century and there is a light rail system that looks like the Loop in Chicago — is so routinely staged that one wants to scream, ‘Bring back Taboo with Tom Hardy.’” — New York Post.

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