Leftridge: TV Time; Channeling Fargo

fargo-fx-tv-series-posterA month or so ago, my wife made a startling revelation: she’d never seen the darkly comedic, melodically disturbing 1996 masterpiece Fargo

After consulting a divorce attorney—who hung up on me after explaining that this was “a grotesquely ridiculous reason to consider marriage dissolution,” and that, “if (I) didn’t stop calling, (he’d) call the cops,”—I decided that things could be saved if we just watched the movie.

And so we did.

Much to my disappointment, however, it wasn’t as good as I remembered. It had been years since I’d seen it, and I’d gone into the viewing thinking that I LOVED it. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s a very good movie; it is not, however, a great movie. As creatures of nostalgia, we’re prone to bouts of occasional misremembering. What I thought was an epic tour-de-force of expertly crafted writing and storytelling was actually a bit… boring. The characters felt a bit forced and thinly fleshed-out—in spite of the incomparable acting—and it was all a bit meandering.

Again, still a really good movie, just not a classic.

BBThornAnyway, shortly after watching the movie—and apologizing to my wife for threatening divorce—I began seeing promos on FX for Fargo, the TV show. And I was confused.

Was this a sequel, lo these many years removed?

Where was Frances McDormand?

Did her baby (SPOILER ALERT) grow up to be a wood-chipper-using-maniac, destroyed by things he or she had felt in the womb?

Did the irrepressibly talented Coen Bros.—Joel and Ethan—have anything to do with this, this television adaptation of the movie I (thought I’d) loved?

So, godbless the internet and all of the information contained therein.

Turns out, IMDB cites the Coens with a writing credit on three episodes of the show. Everything else I found, however, seems to indicate that this is incorrect. From what I can tell, they’re definitely executive producers, and they were given final approval on the pilot script. Mostly, they were pretty hands off.

Instead, the writing is helmed by Noah Hawley, who I don’t know from Adam, but you may know from his writing work on Bones. (Or you don’t. I remain convinced that no one has ever actually seen an episode of Bones. I believe it to be some grand, elaborate practical joke foisted upon us, likely by Ashton Kutcher or Jimmy Kimmel.)

Additionally, there IS no Frances McDormand as the sweet (yet cunning!) Minnesota police chief. Nor is there a beleaguered car salesman played by William H Macy. In fact, the only similarities between the movie and the television show are the hilarious accents and dark, comedic tone.

It’s still a disturbing window into the evilness of man, however, set against the ludicrously naïve backdrop of small-town America. (Probably. From what I can tell.)

Only instead of Steve Buscemi’s bug-eyed haplessness, you’ve got a less bumbling monster played by Billy Bob Thornton. (His character is described as having elements of both the Buscemi character AND the honestly terrifying Javier Bardem character from a better Coen classic, No Country for Old Men.) Instead of dopey ol’ William H. Macy, you’ve got Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins, “Jim” from the British version of The Office), who seems to be a little less blockheaded than his big-screen “inspiration.” Also present? Colin Hanks as a less pregnant, less female police chief, Glenn Howerton from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the magnificent Bob Odenkirk (Mr. Show, Breaking Bad), Oliver Platt, Adam Goldberg and Key and Peele.

A very impressive cast, to say the least.

Fargo_Roads_30_FXWEB_4500_1280x720_184452675956Coupled with the fact that this is ONLY a 10-episode engagement (a small, unlikely window for a decent show to wither and die), and given FX’s semi-recent pedigree for quality original programming (Justified, The Americans, American Horror Story, The Bridge, Sons of Anarchy), it’s easy to see how this show could be a pretty big hit.

Mark me down as “intrigued,” coupled with a dashing of “restrained, pragmatic excitement.

Fargo premiers Tuesday, April 15th at 9pm on FX.

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2 Responses to Leftridge: TV Time; Channeling Fargo

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