Ookay now. So the folks who made Fargo back in ’96 decided to give this new guy a shot — what’s his face, oh, Noah Hawley, I think it was — anyways these Coen Brothers — sounds Jewish maybe (how interesting!), probably from outta St. Louis Park, no doubt — these Coen brothers who are big Hollywood guys now, dontcha know, they decided to executive produce (sounds tough!) this series for this new guy Noah who was thinkin’ maybe he could sorta add to what them Coen brothers sorta built on with that movie Fargo back in ’96, yah?
Only this time the boys said let’s make it a TV series, yah, rather than a movie, cause the TV’s doin’ real good right now, ookay? And so this Noah said yah sure sounds good, you know I think we could get to know the characters a bit more and understand real real good then why they do such bad stuff maybe? So those brothers said yup and Noah said yup sure sounds good, so we got a new show now bout a whole nother spooky crime spree up north, true story too dontcha know?
But enough of that…
If you haven’t been watching Noah Hawley’s Fargo series, which debuted in April and finished its tenth and final episode on FX last week, now is the perfect time to catch up on reruns. The intrinsic brevity of what is possibly Fargo’s only season allows the series to not only be a very easy and appealing binge watch, but shows the creators’ artistic integrity in their ability to succinctly create and conclude a complex and highly entertaining narrative that could very well have become stale and meandering within the popular multi-season television model.
Instead Fargo takes measured time with its exposition for the camera to court each main character as we see some psyches wither and others’ confidence invigorate. To delve into great detail would be to spoil the subtle character arcs that take the entire series to bear fruit.
For now, however, it suffices to commend the performances of the leading cast: the twisted depths of Martin Freeman’s portrayal of Lester Nygaard warps expectations of his reputation as the mild mannered nice bloke he so often emotes in other roles; Billy Bob Thornton is all too convincing as the impulsive and sociopathic Lorne Malvo, a sometimes loveable villain and clear outsider to the northern Minnesota setting; and Allison Tolman, ambitious Deputy Molly Solverson, flawlessly evokes Solverson’s stubborn intelligence and exasperation as she copes with her comically inadequate peers and superior who are somehow responsible for the protection and service of (fictional) Bemidji, Minnesota.
Also worth the watch are Colin Hanks as Duluth Officer Gus Grimly, whose comparatively minor role when the series began comes to fruition as possibly the series’ most gratifying character arc; and Bob Odenkirk, whom many may recognize from his recent role in Breaking Bad, brings some lighter humor to Fargo’s dark tone as Bemidji Police Chief Bill Oswalt, the truly and humorously inept pebble in Deputy Solverson’s boots.
At its heart Fargo is no more than a tongue in cheek allegorical morality play that knows itself well enough to avoid the expected and trite. But the true small screen magic of Fargo derives from its identity as a complex yet succinctly accomplished series created and performed by many talented people.
Whether or not you are a fan of the film, the Fargo series, which has about as much to do with the film as it does Fargo, North Dakota, should not be passed up by any who consider themselves fans of drama or dark comedy, yah? Ookay then.
Images via: FX