Monday, May 30, 2016


Here's a fun TV series for you to watch: Fargo (2014-2015). Althoug, this is the TV version of the Coen Bros. black comedy, all it really shares is its style. It doesn't have any of the same characters or plot, but takes place in the Minnesota/Dakotas region (and the exaggerated accents show it), and feature horrible acts of violence performed by both monsters and ordinary people, while the decent folk of the law enforcement community do the best they can.

We've seen both seasons currently available. The first one stars Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, Sherlock) as a henpecked, bullied insurance salesman. He meets Billy Bob Thornton, a hitman and force for evil, and soon gets in way over his head. No one in his small town suspects him of anything, except for Alison Tolman, the Marge Gunderson type in the story - an unglamorous policewoman with good instincts and the drive to solve the murder of her captain. And, yes, she does wind up pregnant, like Marge.

The second season takes us back to the late 70s, when Tolman's character was just a kid, and her father was a policeman. A beautician (Kirsten Dunst) runs down a punk member of a major crime family, and instead of reporting it, she decides to hide the body and clean up the car. Hiding the body is easy, because her husband is a butcher (Jesse Plemons). As a gang war breaks out around them, she just tries to actualize her true self (and maybe run away to California). The policeman (Patrick Wilson) and his father-in-law, sheriff Ted Danson, try to keep the lid on things.

Those bare sketches don't give you much of an idea what the show is really like. First of all, the settings: Realistic and surrealistic. The small town Main St, the empty snow-filled highways, the dumpy and the upscale homes, the provincial people, the ice fishing. Then there is the deadpan comedy - each episode starts with the statement that the story is true, with only the names changed. You fooled me for the movie, won't get fooled again. Also, the recap at the start of the show is introduced, "Erstwhile, on Fargo". And let's not forget the flying saucers.

It is also incredibly bloody and tense. Not only are people killed in terrible ways, but innocents are menaced in ways even more horrifying, letting you know that no one is safe and nothing can protect you. It can make the show tough to watch. When we were waiting for the next disc, we felt a little relief to watch something less tense.

Still, with great writing, classy, name-brand actors, and an off-kilter sense of place, we'll keep watching as long as they keep making them.

1 comment:

mr. schprock said...

I will check it out. Sounds like something I'd like. I certainly loved the movie (have watched it 4 or 5 times so far).