Fargo – Season 1



Main Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman

Creators: Noah Hawley

Who could have possible thought this was a good idea?  Basing a TV series on an 18 year old movie.  A successful movie, to be sure, but one that had a certain grisly appeal that one does not usually associate with television.

But let’s face it.  Television has changed, and the FX network pushes its envelopes more than just about anybody else.  Exhibit A: American Horror Story.  Filled with sex and violence and general scary grossness, it’s definitely one of the most inappropriate shows on the air.  Which is why I love it.  So I suppose if anyone was going to take on this insane project, FX was the best choice.

But still.  It seemed like a weird, certain to fail money grab.  And a sure sign that Joel and Ethan Coen (who serve as executive producers) had gone from eccentric genius to full blown insanity.

Billy Bob Thornton by Angela George

Who better to embody psycho than Billy Bob Thornton? Photo by Angela George.

But then something magic happened.  FARGO THE TV SERIES DOES NOT SUCK! In fact, not only does it not suck, it’s actually very, very good.  Excellent, even.  With Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman leading the cast, ably assisted by Allison Tolman and Colin Hanks, this crazy idea turned into one of the best series to premiere this season.  Writer/creator Noah Hawley has birthed a most unlikely hit – dark and witty, grisly and charming and scary and weird.  It manages to hit all sorts of wrong notes in a way that makes them better than right, it makes them perfect.

The great thing about Fargo the Series is that it beautifully matches its movie inspiration in tone.  The characters are bizarre and crazy, their violent antics rendered blackly funny by their own ridiculous personalities.  It’s the kind of show that has you rooting in turn for the good guys and the bad – they’re all good fun to watch and you don’t want to see any of them go down, thus depriving us all of their presence on screen.

Perhaps the best thing of all about the show is that it’s limited.  A 10 episode run and it’s over.  I like that – it gives us a great story, great characters and great actors without the pressure to keep the whole thing going forever.  The creative freedom must be a joy for the entire crew.

If you haven’t watched it, don’t jump in now.  Either get it on DVD or watch the FX TV listings for a marathon rebroadcast of the entire series.  But watch it.  Really, you’ll thank me. (And catch the second and third seasons as well – they’re mostly unrelated to this one so it’s like an anthology, and they’re all terrific.)

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