By Kirven Blount
Updated December 06, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

It can no longer be said that HBO stands for ”Hey, Beast-master’s On.” The network, once a repository for discarded box office material, is now home to patient, courageous shows like Carnivàle. Sired by Daniel Knauf and defined in its infancy by director Rodrigo Garcia, the show tracks the parallel stories of two men (Nick Stahl and Clancy Brown) yoked with supernatural powers in dust-bowl America. There’s a lot to integrate, and the play between mysticism and down-to-earth relationships is not without Doug Henning moments. But the cast (Toby Huss is transcendent in a supporting role) and writers are assured, relishing the chance to explore nuances without the usual TV fear. Quiet moments are infused with tension, and just when you think you know a character, he makes a choice that’s plenty organic yet totally confounding. EXTRAS Commentary with the thanking-their-lucky-stars creatives and a making-of that unveils exhaustive attention to detail provide peeks behind the curtain.