My Take On….FARGO on FX

Key ArtA nice-guy salesman, a frozen tundra of a setting, “You-Betcha” accents as far as the ears can hear, and some shady dealings in murder and deception – uff da, we’re back in FARGO!

This time around it’s a slick TV drama set in a small town, premiering on FX at 10/9c.  While the show shares a title, and some of the classic FARGO-verse charm and quirk, with the 1996 movie of the same name (from the Coen brothers who serve as EPs here), creator Noah Hawley (creator of THE UNUSUALS, a too-short-lived drama that aired on ABC and starred Jeremy Renner before Jeremy Renner was a household name) and the cast have gone out of their way to fill this TV version with a voice that feels new and unlike anything we’ve seen before.

In the first episode of the 10 episode “event series” (which, if it works, could come back for a second, third, etc., “event”), Hawley loads a ton of story into a little over 90 minutes (with commercials) as we’re introduced to characters and themes that will carry throughout the next few months.

FARGO -- Pictured: Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo -- CR: FX/Matthias ClamerBilly Bob Thornton plays the calm yet eerily frightening Lorne Malvo, a man with a bad haircut and worse fashion sense, who doesn’t hesitate when confronted with problems, always one step ahead and taking matters into his own hands.  He’s equal parts terrifying (just wait until episode 2 where he gets a chance to scare Colin Hanks’ beat cop character Gus without even raising his voice) and darkly comedic as he sets people up to do bad things so he can enjoy the fall out.  Early on in the premiere, he meets Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman whose accent is so thickly-Minnesotan that you’d never realize he’s from across the pond), a put-upon insurance salesman with a nagging wife and annoyingly successful younger brother.  His descent from sweet and unassuming guy to a man with a million secrets is going to be a ton of fun to watch!

FARGO -- Pictured: Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard -- CR. Matthias Clamer/FXThe cast is rounded out by some familiar faces (Kate Walsh, Bob Odenkirk being his Bob Odenkirk-iest, Colin Hanks, Joey King playing his daughter, Keith Carradine, Oliver Platt, Glenn Howerton, Julie Ann Emery, the list goes on and on) while relative newcomer Allison Tolman takes on the Frances-McDormand-like-character Det. Molly Solverson with equal parts hesitation and confidence, as she slowly starts to put 2 and 2 together about how exactly the latest murders (spoiler alert, there are murders) are connected.

At times funny, surprising, dark, heartwarming, and sad, FARGO is a show that I couldn’t turn off, and after the 4 episodes made available to review, I’m dying to see where it goes next.  The cast is fantastic and Hawley (who is credited with writing all 10 episodes) has laid out an incredibly impressive map for us to follow along.  There’s a stillness and quiet to the show that comes as much from the never ending snow, as it does the characters, while each episode still has an underlying sense of urgency as things slowly start to unravel.  If you didn’t see the movie, it won’t detract from your appreciation of this new FARGO story (not a retelling, not a rehashing, just a genuinely solid TV drama), but let’s be honest, what are you waiting for?  As a huge fan of the movie, the nods to the FARGO-verse were little cherries on an already delicious ice cream sundae.

Tune in at 10/9c on FX.  Let us know what you think and check out the faces of FARGO in this gallery!