It's safe to say that FX's "Fargo" wouldn't be working if the Coen brothers' 1996 film hadn't set the template. But you can also assume that the series succeeds because the Minnesota pair has left it alone.
While Joel and Ethan Coen have executive producer credits, they never made a demand or offered a note during the drama's critically acclaimed first two seasons. That approach continued during filming of the third season, which is expected to premiere in April. Creator Noah Hawley is given free rein, said executive producer Warren Littlefield.
"As filmmakers, they believe in vision. That's how they've spent their lives," Littlefield told me over the weekend at a cocktail party for Hulu TV, which will air another of his series, "The Handmaid's Tale," in April. "Noah has a vision and they respect it. They wouldn't violate a pact with an artist by stepping in."
Not that the Coens have been complelely radio silent. Littlefield, the former president of NBC Entertainment, remembers calling the pair to tell them the show had been renewed for a second season.
"I think it was Joel who said, 'Oh, I'm really sorry," said Littlefield. "I was like, 'No we're really excited.' and Joel said, 'But you have to go back and make it, right? We're sorry.'"
One thing that also won't change is the filming location. While the series has always been set in the upper Midwest, all three seasons have been shot in Calgary.
"I would love to shoot in Minnesota. So would Noah," Littlefield said."But because of the savings we get in Canada, we are able to put a much bigger show up on the screen allowing us to have HBO or Netflix-type quality on a basic-cable budget."
The new season of "Fargo" stars Ewan McGregor and will be set in 2010.