This dark comedy/murder mystery/thriller set in small town Minnesota still claims to be a true story, although by now everyone knows that the 1996 movie of the same name was pure fiction. Perhaps the dramatic reference to survivors and respect for the dead is part of the joke, as most everything about this show seems intended to make you laugh in disbelief. Only based on the film in a derivative sense, the setting and tone are the same but the plots and characters vary a great deal. Billy Bob Thornton plays a laconic, stone-cold contract killer, at least that’s the impression you get. It’s never really spelled out, which adds to the nefarious nature of his character. He blows into town on a doubtless ill wind, falling in with beleaguered insurance salesman Lester Nygaard, (Martin Freeman), a brow-beaten milksop, one of nature’s born losers. Murder and mayhem ensue and the local police start investigating the seemingly unconnected string of crimes. Oliver Platt is over the top as the “supermarket king” being blackmailed and Kate Walsh brilliantly underplays an ex-stripper turned bored housewife, mother of two of possibly the dumbest sons on the planet.
There are plots and sub-plots, everything intertwining into one big giant ball of deception, distrust, greed and general skulduggery. This show has a somewhat bizarre charm to it, but be warned, this is not for the squeamish. There’s a lot of blood, violence and other assorted adult themes. It is a very dark comedy, so far from the realm of sitcom and slapstick humor that you can see the curvature of the Earth. Billy Bob Thornton could give The Usual Suspects Keyser Söze a run for his money as he changes in the blink of an eye from one persona to another, always speaking softly but definitely radiating a quiet menace that is much scarier than if he were loud and overt about it. Colin Hanks, son of Tom Hanks, stars in a huge cast including Kirsten Dunst, Ted Danson, Patrick Wilson, Jean Smart, Bob Odenkirk, Keith Carradine, Adam Goldberg and Allison Tolman as determined Molly Solverson, whose paths keep crossing Colin Hanks’ Gus Grimley during the course of the investigation. Fargo won 3 Emmys and received 15 other nominations, plus won two Golden Globes. This is a twisty-turny thriller, underacted and creative, and well worth watching. – BETHANY
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Molly Solverson following a hunch. (Allison Tolman)
Lester Nygaard, obsequious and spineless vermin and I give him a standing ovation for his spectacular performance! (Martin Freeman).
Colin Hanks as Gus Grimly.
Photos courtesy of MGM Television, FX Productions, 26 Keys Productions, The Littlefield Company, Nomadic Pictures, Mike Zoss Productions and FX Network