Dear World: I love the Coen brothers so much I want to squeeze their faces off!!! I love Blood Simple, I love O Brother, Where Art Thou?, I love Raising Arizona, I love... [this is where you leave the room for 10 minutes to get a sandwich and then return to realize I didn't know you were gone]... for Old Men, I love Inside Llewyn Davis, I love True Grit... and I especially love their hilariously brutal murder comedy Fargo. Which is why I have both "squeeees" of joy, and "hmmmms" of concern about the upcoming TV adaptation of Fargo (debuting Tues April 15, 10 pm, FX).
The original movie was a beautiful buffet of blood and laffs set in the brutal winter wonderland of Minnesota. Struggling car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) hires two criminals to kidnap his wife so he can keep half of the ransom money, but of course everything goes awry, and the crooks end up killing a state trooper, innocent witnesses, and later, disposing of a body by... umm... dumping it in a wood chipper. (I mentioned this was a comedy, right?)
Anyway, the very pregnant Police Chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) follows a hilarious trail—lined with thick-accented Minnesotans—to bring both kidnappers and car salesman to justice. It's funny, bloody, and (surprisingly) charming and sweet. Kind of like Our Town crossed with Taxi Driver.
Awesome, right? Yes! HOWEVER! Reboots of anything should be gazed upon with the greatest of suspicion, and even with an excellent pedigree, this new televised incarnation of Fargo comes with a litany of pros and cons. TO WIT:
PRO: Fargo (the TV series) is executive produced by Joel and Ethan Coen, but.... CON: They aren't really involved otherwise. This could be problematic, since the Coens' style has so far been impossible to imitate without coming off as cartoonish.
Also CON: It doesn't star William H. Macy and Frances McDormand, but.... PRO: It has a kick-ass cast including Billy Bob Thornton, Bob Odenkirk, aaaand (SQUEEEEE!!!) Martin Freeman (AKA Sherlock's boyfriend Watson)! Again... SQUEEEE!!!
Also PRO: Instead of trying to remake the movie version, they've created a new story that shares the same bone-chilling Minnesota landscape. Billy Bob plays traveling hit man Lorne Malvo who takes an interest in mild-mannered life insurance salesman Lester Nygaard (Freeman). When the sheepish Lester makes an off-hand comment about an evil local bully, assassin Lorne decides to even things up in the best way he knows how: murrrrrderrrrr.
Enter Deputies Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) and Bill Oswalt (Odenkirk), who work the case with help from a cast of colorful local Minnesotans who say things like "dern tootin'" and "ya betcha"... but! CON: There's a real danger of portraying these quaint townsfolk as a joke, instead of realistic, nice people with funny accents and a dark undercurrent running through their souls. (See the Coen brothers' version for more on this, or consult your local library.)
The only way to find out if this Fargo will be a hallelujah hit or a fury-causing imitation is to watch it this Tuesday on FX! PRO: It's on FX! (Home of Justified, The Americans, and Louie!) CON: I don't have time for another great FX show!
This Week on Television
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9
10:00 FX THE AMERICANS
Phillip tries to hack into the government's ARPANET—the original internet! (Pro tip: Their password is their birthday!)
10:30 FXX ALI G: REZURECTION
Borat attends an English rowing event—but doesn't everybody in the world know him by now?
THURSDAY, APRIL 10
8:00 NBC COMMUNITY
Subway plans to buy Greendale and replace it with a Subway University... which is a step up, right?
10:00 ABC SCANDAL
President Fitz considers Olivia's reelection advice while ramming his tongue down her throat.
FRIDAY, APRIL 11
10:00 NBC HANNIBAL
Jack's star pupil is alive! (Until Hannibal finds out, of course.)
SATURDAY, APRIL 12
9:00 SYFY BERMUDA TENTACLES—Movie
(2014) The president's plane goes down in the ocean and he's attacked by a giant octopus! WHAT ARE THE ODDS.
11:30 NBC SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE
Hosted by the reliably funny Seth Rogen!
SUNDAY, APRIL 13
9:00 MTV MTV MOVIE AWARDS
Hosted by the even more reliably funny Conan O'Brien!
10:00 AMC MAD MEN
Season premiere! Season seven opens with Don finding a new friend. (Let me guess... a female friend.)
MONDAY, APRIL 14
8:00 SYFY METAL HURLANT CHRONICLES
Debut! Warriors battle their robot overlords in this series based on the classic sci-fi mag Heavy Metal.
TUESDAY, APRIL 15
PIONEERS OF TELEVISION
Season premiere! An overview of stand-up comics who went on to sitcom glory.
10:00 FX FARGO
Debut! A hitman manipulates an insurance salesman to help him with murrrrrderrrrrrr.