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Neal Justin: 'Fargo' is one of best TV series ever

  • Blog Post by: Neal Justin
  • June 17, 2014 - 5:17 PM

 When FX announced it was going to produce a new version of "Fargo," I had my doubts.

TV shows based on beloved movies usually belong in the woodchipper. In fact, an earlier attempt starring Edie Falco never saw the light of day. Plus, the show was being created by Noah Hawley, whose previous credits include writing for "Bones" and cooking a mean lasagna. Why the heck did this fella think he could be the third Coen brother?

So you could have knocked me over with a snowflake when I took in the final product. Not only is the mini-series the front runner to take home an Emmy; it just may be one of the most engaging, brilliantly acted, unpredictable products ever seen on TV.

Last night's finale was thoroughly satisfying as both Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton, pictured) and Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) get what was coming to them. Watching Nygaard turn into Heisenberg's little brother was both hilarious and harrowing, a perfect protagonist in the Coen World. The expression on his face when he literally was treading on thin ice should also make him an Emmy front runner.

Not everything was perfect. Some characters, like Oliver Platt's Stravos Milos, disappeared into the ether. Colin Hanks' accent was more Canadian than Minnesotan. And having Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) suddenly turn into a damsel-in-distress in the last reel didn't quite gel with the rest of her arc.

Nitpicks, all.

This should be the model for more programs down the line: A limited series with a tidy ending that doesn't leave us hanging.One writer responsible for almost every line of dialogue. Great actors who don't feel bogged down by a series that could have them handcuffed for five years.

Let's also give the directors and cinematographers credit for capturing the look of northern Minnesota. Sure, it would have been nice if they actually had filmed here, but the Canadian landscape was such a convincing fill-in, I could practically see Bemidji's Sanford Center in the distance.

Now the big question: Will "Fargo" come back? Or more pointedly, SHOULD it come back?

Hawley has said that if FX picks it up, which it hasn't done yet, the next season will take place in a different city with different characters. Not sure I can take him at his word. He also told us that the TV series has no connection to the movie, which was clearly not the case. (Pointing out the references to the film as well as other Coens' projects was part of the fun). I sure wouldn't mind spending more time on the couch with Molly and Gus, the sweethearts of the season.

But maybe we should leave well enough alone.

It's hard to imagine Hawley being able to match these past 10 episodes. Then again, he's already overcome my initial pessimism. Maybe he can do it again.

Perhaps there are some roads you DO go down.

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