Lorne Malvo: Your problem is that you spent your whole life thinking there are rules. There aren’t.
So says Billy Bob Thornton as the latest version of a killing machine, unlike The Terminator, this one is human and not only answers to the name of Lorne Malvo, but also answers questions in the same way we all do. He is a character you won’t admire, yet he’s one that you can’t help but love. I’m talking about the brand spanking new TV series called Fargo that premiered on the FX channel last night.
In case you are wondering, this series, which will run 10 episodes, is an adoption of the famed Coen Brothers film from 1996 called Fargo. In fact, the actual Coen Brothers, Ethan and Joel, are on board as Executive Producers of this series. They’ve adopted the same format as we’ve seen in True Detective – a one and done season with new characters or cases next year.
But while the TV series has definite reminders as well as something of the style of the film, this is more of a filtered reflection than any thing else. The characters are not the same – though the weather is. For example, the pregnant Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand in the film) is now the not pregnant Molly Solverson (played by Allison Tolman). And the manic car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) in the film, is now an insurance salesman, Lester Nygaard (played by Martin Freeman).
The aforementioned Lorne Malvo is on hand to do some of the wet-work for the series.
Fargo may be the title but the show is set in Bemidji, MN – with Calgary and environs serving as the location of the production.
Like Fargo, the film, Fargo the TV Series. has its assortment of peculiar people, some as dumb as door knobs, and others not too far above that. We are also ‘treated’ to some unusual violence.
Why just in the first episode, a man was frozen to death while fleeing a captor, another was stabbed in the back of head while enjoying the services of a hooker,
yet another was bludgeoned to death with a hammer,
and lest I forget, a sheriff was shot down with a double-barrelled shotgun.
The violence occurs quickly, and is usually delivered without warnings. A major plus is that while we won’t always see the violence coming, we do spend a good amount of time watching the police looking over the remains as they try to work out the WHY of what happened. The WHAT is always SELF EVIDENT. They’ve even made one of the Sheriff’s Deputies a guy with penchant for getting ill at the scene of the crime.
So based upon the opening episode we will be watching the dynamic duo of Lester and Lorne doing their thing. Molly will be in pursuit, running down clues, as the trail remains cold – this is Minnesota after all. I am sure we shall see more of the Hess progeny (aka dumb and dumber) again as Dad had some connections with a Fargo Crime Syndicate,
and that means more of the Hess widow (Kate Walsh as Gina Hess). Certainly we will see more of the Duluth police trooper Gus Grimley (played by Colin Hanks) again.
Waiting in the wings are Oliver Pratt and Adam Goldberg (both below) among others involved specifically with them.
While this is a tale of the dark doings that go on in the Upper Midwest it seems that most folks thereabouts are polite and kindly. Writer Noah Hawley and the Coens have injected a lot of humor which is going to not always come in the way of one liners. Like watch for Molly going to tell the gunned-downed Sheriff’s wife that her husband has departed this earth. The scene is not intrinsically funny (it even plays wordlessly) but seeing Molly carrying the couple of paint gallons that the Sheriff had bought that very day was funny.
Watching Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the hospital as he chats with Lorne Malvo did not have any laugh out loud one liners –
but watching Lester squirming about in his chair as he struggled with how to tell this complete stranger some of the more sordid details behind his nose-break was very funny.
I expect that Fargo the series will be straddling the line between violence and some darker, black humor all season. The FX network gave us the fine 10 episode series called The Bridge last summer. That series was very well done but there might be a problem in stretching this series out to 10 episodes. Of course that ‘s just me thinking out loud based on just the one episode which screened last night. Time will tell.
As will I, as I expect to write again about Fargo.