Fargo The TV Show: A Surprisingly Not-Terrible Idea

Aw, jeez, you should set the Sky+ for this new TV version of a Coen Brothers classic

Most Popular

Your excitement at the news that the Coen brothers’ 1996 movie Fargo will have a new lease of life on television is no doubt immediately followed by sense of grim foreboding that it will inevitably be God-awful and that once you’ve seen it the original film will somehow be retroactively tainted and you’ll never be able to enjoy that again either.

This was certainly the concern of NBC executives who nixed the idea of a Fargo TV series when it was first vaunted in 1997; even in 2003 when CBS showed their pilot, starring Edie Falco in her pre-Carmela Soprano days, it wasn’t picked up for series.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Now though, FX have had a go and have got as far as making 10 episodes, which will be broadcast in the UK by Channel 4. Oh my.

But there’s little reason to fret. The new series, written and directed by Noah Hawley, has Coen approval (they’re executive producers) and the same general gist as the film: murder most horrid comes to a small Minnesota town.

The TV characters are new, but have knowing whiffs off their movie counterparts — Martin Freeman’s beleaguered insurance salesman Lester Nygaard (above) is a direct relative in both attitude and vowel-profligacy of William H Macy’s beleaguered car salesman Jerry Lundegaard, while newcomer Allison Tolman’s deputy police chief Molly Solverson is a respectfully “lite” version of Frances McDormand’s beloved police chief Marge Gunderson.

Most Popular

Where the TV show does strike new ground is in Lorne Malvo, a twinkle-eyed Malvolio (hey wait a minute…) in an improbable toupee played to perfection by Billy Bob Thornton (top picture), who meets Lester in A&E and makes him a problem-solving proposition Lester doesn’t quite manage to refuse. But rather than blow out of town as breezily as he blew in, Lorne decides to stick around and see what other mischief he can cause.

 

If the series lacks a little of fresh eccentricity of the movie, it shares with it a humour that is somehow both warm and black, a cast of low-key but excellent actors (Colin Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, above, and Adam Goldberg also appear) and a pervasive sense of the absurdity of human misadventures taking place beneath wide, snowy skies.  

Fargo starts on 20 April on Channel 4

***
MORE TV:

11 Ways Mad Men Changed Our World 
Steve Coogan And Rob Brydon Discuss The Trip 2 
Game Of Thrones So Far In A Handy Poem 
***