Amazon’s “Carnival Row” is a “Game of Thrones” hit

Amazon’s “Carnival Row” is a “Game of Thrones” hit
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Amazon’s “Carnival Row” is a “Game of Thrones” hit

The fantasy series Carnival Row streaming on Amazon Prime is the perfect series to satisfies the cravings of Game of Thrones fans who were disappointed by GOT’s final season but who are craving for more. Carnival Row provides a complex and well-acted series about mythical creatures that have fled their homeland for the safety of a British society in the 18th Century that embraces racist and anti-immigrant feelings

By Ray Hanania

For fans of Game of Thrones who were let down by the poor scripting of the HBO blockbuster’s final season, Amazon Prime has created a series that will satisfy their hunger called Carnival Row.

Carnival Row on Amazon Prime is a complicated and well performed fantasy series about mythical creatures who are chased form their homelands to survive in a society based on England in the 19th Century called the Burgue. The key actors are Orlando Bloom and British actress Cara Delevingne who maneuver through a compelling storyline that lifts viewers attention away from the skepticism about the many fictitious characters to a plot so well written it draws you into from the first episode.

The series includes fairies, humans who have wings, centaurs with rams horns, and more. The worst part of the streaming fantasy series isn’t the acting, the script or the complex stories that mix perfectly to keep your rapt attention. The worst part is that the British accents make it hard to understand what the hell the characters are talking about. And worse, it is only 8 episodes long, although each episode is 60 minutes.

Cara Delevingne of the new Amazon Prime series Carnival Row by Gage Skidmore courtesy of Wikipedia

Cara Delevingne of the new Amazon Prime series Carnival Row by Gage Skidmore courtesy of Wikipedia

To really understand the series, you need to understand that the humans and the mythical creatures are very similar in a lot of ways and for the most part have assimilated as a result of persecution and military conflict. You also need to read the names beforehand and become familiar with the key characters because the names are so unusual, far more so than the names in Game of Thrones.

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Keep in mind that the mythical characters and species are all human-like with some physical differences making their existence believable and not distracting to the storyline which is filled with murder, crime and police investigations. There is a Jack the Ripper like killer on the prowl engaged in some kind of sophisticated plot that doesn’t become obvious until the end of the first season. And there are witches called Haruspex.

The Fairies are called “fans” and “pix.” The centaurs with the ram’s heads, human body and ram legs are called Agreus or Argeus, from Greek mythology. The term “puck” is a racist derogatory term used to describe all of the non-human species. The Haruspex are witches. And there are other mythical tears that are too many to list but only necessary during specific segments of the plot.

If you can get the terminology out of the way, you will enjoy the series even more but it is enjoyable even with the name confusions. Of course, it would have been a better investment of your time if the series were longer than 8 episodes, one of the true downsides of the streaming online services. Even Game of Thrones was only 10 episodes in six seasons with episodes often running well under 60 minutes until the final two  with only 7 episodes in the 7th season, and then only six in the final rushed 8th season.

For me, Carnival Row was a enjoyable binge experience. I watched all eight episodes over a relaxing two day period. And I kept thinking about Game of Thrones through the entire storyline. There’s just enough sex to make it interesting and also demonstrate that the actors and actresses are serious about the series. No prudes here.

Here’s a run down, provided by Wikipedia, of the actors and actresses and the roles they play. Read it. Become familiar with it. There is no doubt that it will help you understand the plots better and it will also be worth it because this series will certainly run numerous seasons if the writers keep the quality up to its first season par.

Orlando Bloom as Rycroft Philostrate (“Philo”), a half-blood Inspector of the Burgue Constabulary, investigating a dark conspiracy at the heart of the city. A veteran of the war, he sympathizes with the fae to the disgust of many of his colleagues.

Cara Delevingne, a former British model, plays one off the key characters, Vignette Stonemoss, a fae and Philo’s lover, who believed him to be dead. She falls in with a group of fae ruffians, known as the Black Raven, while dealing with her complicated feelings for Philo.

Simon McBurney as Runyon Millworthy, a human street performer and master of a troupe of kobolds (tiny goblin like characters).

Tamzin Merchant as Imogen Spurnrose, an heiress who becomes involved with Agreus, who is a half-human half ram Argeus (Agrees), to support her lifestyle.

David Gyasi as Agreus Astrayon, a wealthy Puck shunned by Burgue high society for his appearance and origin.

Andrew Gower as Ezra Spurnrose, Imogen’s alcoholic brother, whom she blames for mishandling the family finances and driving them into debt.

Karla Crome as Tourmaline Larou, Vignette’s friend and a “fae” poet who supports herself by working as a prostitute.

Arty Froushan as Jonah Breakspear, Absalom’s son, who rebels against his controlling father.

Indira Varma, who was a Game of Thrones favorite, plays Piety Breakspear, Absalom’s manipulative wife, who seeks to enshrine her family’s legacy through sinister plots and spiritual witchcraft.

Jared Harris plays Absalom Breakspear, the Chancellor of the Republic of the Burgue where the mythical creatures have taken refuge. Chancellor Breakspear fights to defend the rights of the mythical creatures against a growing racist anger and anti-immigration xenophobia.

Caroline Ford as Sophie Longerbane, the complicated daughter of Absalom’s political rival.

Alice Krige as Aoife Tsigani, a Haruspex, or witch, in the service of Piety Breakspear.

Ariyon Bakare as Darius Sykes, Philo’s old friend and a former soldier of the Burgue now held in captive luxury due to having been cursed as a wolf-man during the war.

Maeve Dermody as Portia Fyfe, Philo’s landlady whose romantic advances he frequently rebuffs.

Jamie Harris as Sergeant Dombey, a constable known to harbor racist beliefs against the Fae and despises Philo for sympathizing with them.

Waj Ali as Constable Berwick, Philo’s timid partner who nevertheless remains loyal to him even when he is exposed as a half-blood.

James Beaumont as Constable Cuppins, an officer who finds Philo’s interest in the Fae unnatural.

Tracey Wilkinson as Afissa, the Puck housemaid and cook to the Spurnroses.

Anna Rust as Fleury, a Pix courtesan at Moira’s brothel. She is killed by Burgue soldiers for violating a ban on flying.

Mark Lewis Jones as Magistrate Flute, the head constable in the Burgue who urges solidarity amongst his officers and frequently butts heads with Philo over his concern for the Fae’s welfare.

Leanne Best as Madame Moira, the proprietor of The Tetterby, a brothel on Carnival Row.

Theo Barklem-Biggs as Cabal, a Puck malcontent seeking to bring his brethren together.

Ronan Vibert as Ritter Longerbane, the primary political opponent of Absalom Breakspear and longtime advocate of Fae subjugation. He dies at the hands of Piety Breakspear after she frames him for kidnapping her son.

Chloe Pirrie as Dahlia, the ruthless Fae leader of the Black Raven.

Scott Reid as Quill, a Puck footman unjustly dismissed by the Chancellor, who turns to radicalism.

Sinead Phelps as Jenila, the Puck lady’s maid to Sophie Longerbane.

Jim High as Fergus, a human servant in Mr. Agreus’ household.

Erika Starkova as Aisling Querelle, Philo’s mother and a once-famous Pix singer turned to the life of a scavenger. Her death is the first at the hands of the Darkasher.

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

Click here to listen to Ray's Political Podcast. 

Hanania's columns are archived on his personal website at RayHanania.com. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com.
Ray Hanania

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