92%Overall Score
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93%

The series inspired by the 1996 film takes us on a chilling ride through an icy landscape like nothing else on television.

Close to twenty years after the Coen brothers’ introduced the rest of the world to Fargo, FX has created the best show on television this spring in the vein of the aforementioned classic.  Being billed as a limited series, the first four episodes of Fargo will undoubtedly leave us wanting more by the tenth episode finale.  Intriguing, terrifying and comical, FX have a gem on their hands that shouldn’t be missed Tuesdays.

A drifter named Lorne Malvo arrives in the Minnesota small-town, spinning a web of destruction, malice and terror.  Played to perfection by Billy Bob Thornton, Malvo goes from person to person finding their weakness and exploiting it for his own personal pleasure.  We come to find out he has come to Fargo to carry out a contract, but after a hit gone wrong, he ends up meeting Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman, Sherlock), who is everything the anarchist isn’t.  Nygaard is a pushover insurance salesman, who is about to crack under Malvo’s intervention.  These two characters are fleshed out wonderfully in their initial exchange, where Thornton’s character goes on to explain that humans used to be apes and sometimes you need to show the rest of the world you still are one.  

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We meet our protagonist, Officer Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman), as she and her partner are called upon for one of the murders conducted by Malvo.  Right off the bat we can tell she has a knack for investigating murders, but is held back by an incompetent and withdrawn police force.  There are plenty of comedic moments born out of the frustration Solverson has in dealing with her superiors, most notably Chief Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk, Breaking Bad).  It’s not that the police force doesn’t care about the crimes committed in their area, but rather their egos get in the way of solving anything quickly.  

The show is a slow-boil, and will not be for everyone.  Those lacking patience will not be rewarded and the morality of the characters aren’t embraced easily.  However, the concoction the producers have created is phenomenal.  They have no problem showing the intricacies of this weird world and viewers that watch the 90-minute pilot will want to see how the series wraps up.  

The influence from the Coen brothers is littered throughout the series, most notably in the contract killer played by Thornton.  He is more philosophical like Javier Bardem from No Country for Old Men than the villainous duo from the film that inspired this series.  Martin Freeman’s acting is modeled off of William H. Macy’s in the film version, although the two characters plot lines are quite different.  The dark humor in most of the Coen brothers’ films is ever-present in this series, and the accents we all mimicked after the film in 1996 are back.

It is a big undertaking by FX to make this series after the film has reached classic status.  Obviously the writers meant for the series to be a homage to the film, and unlike many other projects that fail to pay respect to their predecessor, this version lives up to the hype.  

Check out the first seven minutes of the series below:

Fargo: Season 1

FX

Tuesdays 10 p.m. Eastern

Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman and Allison Tolman

About The Author

Nate Davis

Nate Davis is the managing editor for Filmtakeout. Along with overseeing the content that gets posted on the site, Nate contributes a weekly column and review. Nate graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in Journalism and Cinema. He worked for the University of Iowa's Center for Media Production as an intern, production assistant and writer. Nate also writes for a website devoted to covering soccer, and has a blog that includes all his work.