It is similar to wonderfalls in a way though in a more concentrated form. Wonderfuls was a humorous WTF? sort of show while Carnivale is a completely serious WTF? show. You sort of get the impression watching the latter that it shouldn't be a tv show at all, and that tv as a medium could never give it the full palate it deserves. Instead, this is the sort of plot and story that almost demands novelization, and multiple books at that. It just seems like it's too grand an epic to ever be told on video.
Searching around it seems that the creator intended for this show to run 6 seasons in sets of 3 books consisting of two seasons each. He only managed to get the first set out before the entire show was given the axe. I don't know WTF is up with HBO lately in that they seem to start these epic dramas with multi-year storylines only to drop the fuckers partway through. It's sorta pissing me off and I can only imagine how much it must've infuriated tv monkeys who actually watched these programs weekly as it was coming out. At least I can get it on demand and in one shot if I want.