Adam Goldberg, Allison Tolman, Billy Bob Thornton, Bob Odenkirk, Colin Hanks, Fargo, Fargo FX Series, Fargo Review, Fargo TV, Fargo TV Series, Fargo TV Show, Glenn Howerton, Martin Freeman, Noah Hawley, Oliver Platt, Russell Harvard, TV Review
FX’s television adaptation of the Oscar winning classic “Fargo” hit the TV world just a few months ago, and it’s been a menacingly entertaining presence ever since. Creator and Writer Noah Hawley has constructed a well-crafted character drama that follows cops, killers and other common criminals in the small icy town in North Dakota. The cast is great, the writing is phenomenal, and overall it’s a great hour of TV with viewers getting sucked into the devious plots and schemes taking place on the masterfully mysterious and compelling show.
There was some apprehension when the show was first advertised. Often times, the Movie-to-TV adaptations fail because they either they seem to mimic the source material, or they are so detached from the original film that it doesn’t feel related at all. “Fargo” has maintained a few similarities to the movie, including subtle mentions and visual cues. For instance, the briefcase of cash buried away in the film makes an appearance in the show, and basically shapes one of the characters. Aside from sharing those things and the dark humor and mysterious vibe of the movie, the show is simply a look at the town 20 years later.
There is an entirely new police team, an entirely new set of desperate and demented residents and visitors, and a new set of criminals. This series is so incredibly well written and paced to perfection that every episode is like a riddle. There is so much that’s unknown in the beginning but each hour unveils a new puzzle piece, but also bringing up new mysteries by the end of the episode.
As excellent as “Fargo” is on it’s own, the main draw is the one and only Billy Bob Thornton. He is the chilling villain Lorne Malvo who literally crashed into town and continually leaves a trail of victims. He manipulates the weak, swindles a blackmailer, impersonates a priest, and frightens local cops and neighbors. The character of Malvo is both hilarious and intense, menacing and maliciously amusing. There’s so many layers to the character and Thornton plays him with such finesse, and often without many lines. Thornton is able to bring such a huge presence to the frame, his performance sets the tone for the series.
Billy Bob thrashes and tramples over everything and everyone in every second he’s on screen. Of course that’s not to say that the rest of the cast doesn’t do a great job. Allison Tolman is great playing Molly Solverson, the deputy who refuses to settle for the safe life her father and colleagues think she is better suited for, and there’s Colin Hanks as Gus Grimly, an officer conflicted with trying to be a hero by catching Malvo, or staying complacent and safe for the sake of his daughter. These conflicting personality types strangely mesh well together in a charming way, and both actors do a great and subtle job at bringing realism to their roles. Oliver Platt as wealthy supermarket king Stavros Milos is unknowingly tormented and manipulated by Malvo, who he thinks is on his side. Platt is near amazing playing off the fear and paranoia the character endures.
Another pivotal character is the nerdy but secretly sinister Lester Nygaard portrayed decently by Martin Freeman. The character and acting are good enough, but there is something a little too familiar to William H. Macy‘s Jerry Lundergaard from the film. It’s possible that Freeman studied the film a little too closely and his performance sometimes comes off like a impersonation rather than a fully realized new character. He still does a great job, as do the remaining cast that includes Adam Goldberg and Russell Harvard as the bumbling hitmen Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench, Bob Odenkirk as the clueless Deputy Oswalt, and Glenn Howerton (of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” fame) as the blabber mouthed idiot blackmailer perfectly named Don Chumph.
Again, “Fargo” has a great cast, great writing and great pacing. It’s not smart to get too much into the politics of Award shows, but “Fargo” definitely deserve lots of praise and gold for delivering a truly inspired and perfectly executed show. And it should be obvious to voters that Billy Bob Thornton deserves major gold for his performance, which is of the most masterful performances in years.