When Justified’s season ended, I thought that I would just have one less show to watch, but as it turns out FX had a plan for filling in that Tuesday 10pm time slot. Following up after Justified is a very tall order in my book, since I think it’s one of, if not the, best show on television, so FX didn’t pull out any of the stops. They came out strong with Fargo, a show based off of the Coen Brothers movie from 1996.
The show has the same feel as the movie, but for those who haven’t seen it, much of the humor is very dark and often derived from the awkward interactions or strange mannerisms of the characters. For example, Nathan Goldberg plays a hitman who has a deaf and dumb sidekick who he has to mime conversations to. There’s a scene where Billy Bob Thorton’s character Lorne Malvo, another cold blooded hitman type character, is being verbally threatened in his hotel room, and his response is to walk into the bathroom and start dropping a duce. Oliver Platt’s character Stavros Milos has a son who is slow and loves really terrible jokes that he tells in the hopes of getting his father’s attention and approval. And then, of course, there are all those Minnesota accents dontcha know.
But while many of those listed elements are humorous (and there are many more) there is still the “dark” side of that humor. A lot of people are murdered in the show, some in very brutal ways, and while sometimes the ensuing interactions following this are funny (like the crime scene banter between certain cops) people are still getting killed, and there is a lot of blood. For me this doesn’t detract from the show at all, but I feel I should mention it, just so anyone reading this and thinking of checking out the show knows what they’re in for.
If you couldn’t tell from the list of actor’s names I just dropped in the above paragraph, this show is loaded with star power. Martin Freeman, of Sherlock and Hobbit fame, also has a leading role playing the loserly Lester Nygaard, an underachiever who others make fun until he begins to snap. Known actors like Kate Walsh, Bob Odenkirk, and Collin Hanks are also among the cast. All of the actors in these series are very impressive and fit the roles they are playing quite well.
But one of the most impressive actors on the show is newcomer Allison Tolman who has very few credits to her name. She plays a police officer who is an good investigator and wants to find out the truth behind all of the strange murders that start taking place in town. Unfortunately this goes against some of the ideas of the police captain who has his own theories on how people were killed that he is unwilling to deviate from. Outside of playing her role very well, I think one of the more interesting things about Tolman is that she is a very normal looking woman and not a Hollywood bombshell type. She fits the role perfectly, both with her looks and her acting, and I think the casting directors made a really good choice by not casting a supermodel/starlet type.
As far as plot goes, without spoiling anything, I will say that the show is much different from the movie. While it maintains the same sort of feel as the Coen Brothers’ original work, it has followed an entirely different storyline thus far. I’ll be curious to see if the episodes we’ve seen thus far are more like a prequel leading up the events from the movie or if the show will remain original going forward. Either way, I think it could work, and I’ve found the chain of events in the show thus far very compelling.
If you’re a fan of the Coen Brothers or the movie Fargo, then I definitely recommend checking out the show. If you have the same dark/edgy humor that I have, then I’d also recommend it. I think FX has struck gold once again with this series, and though I was sad to see Justified’s season end, I think Fargo makes a more than suitable replacement for the meantime.