FX’s ‘Fargo’ Brings More Midwestern Murder
FX is set to debut its TV reinterpretation of the Coen brothers’ 1996 cult hit Fargo on Tuesday night, and the show has gotten great reviews, seemingly accomplishing the difficult task of paying homage to the film’s tone while presenting a different storyline with new characters.
The show stars Billy Bob Thornton as charming hitman Lorne Malvo and Sherlock’s Martin Freeman as average insurance salesman Lester Nygaard. Like the movie, it explores everyday life in the Midwest and how that life is disrupted (or not) by brutal violence. There’s another female cop, played by Allison Tolman, whose modest exterior and Midwestern manners hide her smarts and ambition. Unlike the movie, the show is set in rural Minnesota instead of the North Dakota city from which it takes its title.
The story hinges around violent crime and the inexperienced police offers attempting to solve it. Malvo, a drifter, pushes the violence into action and drags the inept Nygaard along for the ride, while police officers Molly Solverson and Gus Grimly — who comes all the way to the town of Bemidji from Duluth on his shared suspicion about Nygaard — try to make sense of the possibility that organized crime could have reached their neck of the woods.
Reviews have said the show, which is produced by Joel and Ethan Coen themselves, has managed to catch the essence of the film without being a re-make and will likely appeal to fans of the movie and the Coen brothers’ work in general. The show is written by Noah Hawley, who was also a writer for the popular drama Bones. Hawley created the show’s plot and new characters while staying in the Midwestern world created by the Coens.
“The writer, Noah Hawley, invented new characters immersed in a different array of murders without losing what was so distinctive about that droll, enigmatic film in the first place,” reads a review from The New York Times. Critics are expressing much disbelief and wonder over the fact that the show manages to pull off being an engaging riff on such a unique and beloved film.
In an interview with KTLA, Thornton credits Hawley’s writing as the reason the series works and also said that the most exciting work for those interested in film is currently on television. “Television is the bulk of where really good work and good writing is going on,” Thornton said. An article from The Associated Press said that CBS and NBC both made attempts to turn the film into a series in the late ’90s, but now it seems that Hawley and FX have finally gotten it right.
According to The New York Daily News, the show is set to complete its story arc in ten episodes, and if it’s renewed it will follow a different story with a new cast.
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