When I first heard sometime in 2012 that the Coen brothers were going to produce but not direct a new series called Fargo, based on the 1996 award-winning film of the same name, being a fan of the movie I was naturally skeptical. Sure, the brothers who wrote and directed the film were going to be involved again, but I wasn’t sure if it wasn’t just in name only. Thinking it could never possibly stand up to the film, I couldn’t get myself to watch it.
I assume most of you have seen the movie, but to those of you who haven’t, don’t read the last portion of this paragraph, lest you become exposed to a spoiler clue. I saw the flick at the theater when my film-buff brother Kevin took me, assuring me it would be good. It turned out to be, to this day, one of the best films I have ever seen.
The characters were delightfully quirky and the movie would go down as not only one of the best of all time but also one of the most quotable. Starring Frances McDormand (wife of co-writing and director Joel Coen) as the pregnant police sleuth; William H. Macy as the car salesman who gets in way over his head; and Steve Buscemi, the cranky, “sorta funny-looking” crook who has a series of very bad days culminating with getting overly acquainted with a wood-chipper.
The first season of the series Fargo commenced in April of 2014. I didn’t start watching it until just a little before the second season started – watched the series premiere and was so enthralled that I immediately went on a Fargo binge.
The series is somewhat like the film but far from exactly. It still has the standard friendly Minnesotans and standard peculiar characters of the movie. And it still uses the poetic license of lying to its audience that what you are about to watch is a true story. But the story is different from the movie and each successive season is another entirely different season-long anthology, replete with different impressive actors and a different time period.
Not to ruin the first season for you either but suffice it to say that it lived up to the movie by at least equaling it in many ways. The TV series was created and written by Noah Hawley, who did his best to replicate the same kind of oddball flavor of the Coen brother’s cinema creation. The premiere season met with critical acclaim and starred Billy Bob Thornton in a brilliant role as a seeming psychopathic hired hand, who utters some of the most intimidating psyche-out lines I have ever heard. Martin Freeman, who starred in the UK Office and played Bilboa Baggins in the Hobbit Trilogy, does an excellent job as the William H. Macy type character.
The second season, which premiered on October 12, 2015, is set in 1979 and stars Kirsten Dunst as Peggy Blomquist, a beautician married to a butcher named Ed and played by Jesse Plemons. Not only does it live up to the praise of the first season but has surpassed it in most critics eyes, including this one, who is tickled that such a well-written dark-comedy crime drama can make it in television in this day and age. But then again, with Hollywood generally catering to the lowest common grunt denominator with all their flame, fizz and hollow packaging for a movie that turns out to be highly-advertised special effects without a decent plot, story or character development, it is with a sigh of relief to know that we are still indeed in a golden age of television.Share on social media