Well, Bill Sherman's already beat me to it, and has summarized it quite nicely-so go there first before reading any further- but I wanted to post some thoughts about HBO's new original series Carnivále anyway.
It's an densely plotted, challenging show, and most of the characters are ambiguous as far as their inclination towards good vs. evil. There's dust everywhere, blowing and making everything all gauzy and causing me to sneeze. Carnivále reminds me of David Lynch remaking Something Wicked This Way Comes, or maybe if Bradbury rewrote that book as a sequel to The Grapes of Wrath. But to its credit, it doesn't lay all its plot (tarot?) cards out on the table right away...which means I'll be surprised if it becomes a hit. I can't imagine who HBO imagines the audience for this will be, but I'm happy they're airing it nonetheless. Besides- it's got Buckaroo Banzai's Clancy Brown, playing a nutball preacher who (like almost everyone in the show) sees and causes visions, so I gotta watch. For some reason his character reminds me a bit of previously mentioned American Gothic's Sheriff Buck. It's cool to see former Twin Peaks cast member Michael J. Anderson in a role that doesn't ask him to speak backwards, and B-movie queens Adrienne Barbeau and Amy Madigan are always welcome.
Hats off to HBO for putting this on, and I hope they stick with it. If this had been on any of the mainstream networks, it would be off the air in two months max, after multiple time changes and pre-emptions.