Culture

Don't Miss FX's TV-Version of Fargo

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I’ve had so much to say about so many things that I haven’t had a chance to put up a quick review of the TV version of Fargo recently on FX.  I’m afraid a lot of people who would have loved this show might have missed it on the first go round. The problem was, the first episode was delightfully complex and murderous, a really good imitation of the tone and content of the original (great) Coen Brothers movie of the same name. But there was so much in the pilot that, almost by necessity, the second and third episodes felt as if they fell off a little. I know a few people who stopped watching at this point. A mistake, it turns out. The show climbed right back to the level of the first episode and then continued to get better and better until it was absolutely spectacular.

The show really managed to capture the Fargo tone of foul crime in the good-natured heartland. Great plotting, great dialogue, great characters played by great actors. Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton were absolutely wonderful — their characters both so villainous in such different ways that their interaction became kind of a running meditation on the nature of evil. Not as much flash and dazzle as True Detective but far, far better on the crime story fundamentals. A really gripping ride. 

But the revelation of the show was Allison Tolman who seems to’ve come out of almost nowhere to be the star. She plays the cop — a sort of TV version of the character played by Frances McDormand in the original film. I could write an entire essay about both her brilliant performance and the excellent writing of her character by the hugely talented Noah Hawley. As opposed to creators with a belligerent feminist agenda, Tolman and Hawley simply gave us a truthful female character, and made her so decent, so real, so intelligent and her situation so identifiable that you came to root for her with full-on enthusiasm. Without any Top of the Lake-style political preaching…  and without Girls-style aggressive and unnecessary nudity designed to let us know just how unenlightened we are compared to our Hollywood betters… we were simply put inside another human’s shoes and allowed to walk along. Mind-expanding and wonderful.

Anyway, I’m sure there’s all sorts of chances to see this on reruns and streaming and mind-beaming or whatever the latest technology is. Utilize the opportunities. It’s very, very good stuff. Up there with the terrific Justified as my favorite crime show of the year so far.

****

Cross-posted from Klavan on the Culture