Fargo: Season 1
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Fargo: Season 1

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From this modern era of multiple sources of entertainment, but it one time there was a solid wall between television and movies. Movie stars were exalted far beyond their counterparts on the, so-called, small screen. A number of actors, writers and directors began their illustrious careers in television series that the medium was treated like a farm team with being called up to cinema, the true star of their careers. Thankfully this is a thing of the past, with major talents, moving freely between television and movies. Not only does this broaden the talent pool keep many fine artists who can engage in constant work, expanding their abilities, but the ones that truly benefit on the audiences. Fluidity between media has branched out into a different direction with the series on the F/X network, ‘Fargo’. Arguably one of the most imaginative and successful pairs of sibling filmmakers, are the Cohen brothers, Joel and Ethan. In 1996 they released one of the most acclaimed films, ‘Fargo’, which brought home seven Academy award brings sweeping the major category list. Despite its notice at the beginning of the film that it was based on true events, it was a complete work of fiction. More accurately, it was an incredible piece of fiction about a complex web of lies, deceit and murder in the snow-covered state of Minnesota. Many movies have ground-up as television series, but after decades of watching examples of this. I can categorically state that this is one of the finest migrations between media that has ever been accomplished.

Like it cinematic predecessor, the series thinks the same claim of being based on true events. It is also not true. Although the fundamental premise of heinous murders occurring in the fairly isolated cities of Minnesota, the characters, details in time. Fortunately, there were some aspects of the movie. There were carried over to the TV series; attention to detail in the excellence that pervades every element of this production. If you are a fan of the original movie, it will be natural for you to attempt to draw comparisons between the two presentations the story. The best way to fully appreciate this series is to put such inclinations of the side and accept this series for what it is a highly entertaining crime drama with a strong foundation of a very dark comedy. The tale is told with a nonlinear chronology that despite its popularity in film is rarely utilized on television, especially as effectively as it is here. First of the many eccentric characters begin to meet is Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton). To refer to him as the stories antagonist is as much an understatement as stating that Macbeth comes from a dysfunctional family. The first see him when he crashes his car, not far from the town of Bemidji, Minnesota. A man, naked except of his boxers, runs out of the trunk into a field covered in snow. Meanwhile back in town, Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) happens to run into his old high school nemesis and bully, Sam Hess (Kevin O'Grady), accidentally breaking list is nose. It’s in the hospital emergency room that a chance meeting of Lester with Malvo that set in inexorable series of pain and death in motion. During a casual conversation between the two Malvo inquires whether he wants to get back at the bully, "is that really what you want".

Malvo winds up killing Hess and when he walks in a less to having an argument with his wife; Perl (Kelly Holden Bashar) killed both her and the sheriff who’s investigating another incident. Previously, in a scene depicting a conversation between the sheriff and his deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman), he admits that despite the other deputy, Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk), having greater seniority. These certain she would make a better replacement for him when he retires. In one of many ill-fated terms and bad decisions after the Sheriff’s death Oswalt does indeed ascend to the rank of Sheriff. Almost from the start Molly is certain something very bad is going on in the town of the new board dismisses her offhand telling her to stick with mundane duties. In one of many examples of why this series is so well crafted bill’s dismissal is not based on the gender, he is just an inept minor bureaucrat who suddenly finds himself in a position of authority as the bodies begin to pile up, it is Molly piece together the clues they come closest to the truth of what is happening.

Malvo is wanted by some former associates were dispatched a pair of hit men to dispatch him with extreme prejudice; Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) and his partner, Mr. Numbers (Adam Goldberg). Mr. Wrench is hearing-impaired and communicates through Mr. Numbers, frequently with angry exaggerated gestures. The mayhem expands with Malvo mounting a sinister plot against local supermarket entrepreneur, Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt). Malvo literally rained down the biblical plagues the Exodus upon the hapless businessman. The techniques he employs to turn water into blood and provide a plague of locusts is deliciously devious in a very warped and twisted fashion. This is indicative of much of what goes on in this series. In some cases, it’s fairly easy to predict who was going to get killed, or at least, tortured. What makes the difference is the execution of the heinous act, no pun intended. Bill never does believe Molly, even though she gathers additional evidence that points the Malvo as the one at the center of all that is going on. Eventually she does find an ally with an officer from a neighboring town, Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks). He is also unassuming and quiet and dismissed that his own precinct. The point is made to show that he is an honest, hard-working single father who loves his daughter Greta (Joey King).

As you can already tell great care was done by the director of casting to make sure the best possible performance was given the proper roles. Bob Odenkirk is one of a growing number of former standup comedians who was finding a new life for their career in intense dramas. He was a featured player for many years in ‘Breaking Bad’, as a lawyer with a rather loose interpretation of professional ethics. Kate Walsh appears as the unhappy wife of the supermarket King. Another case of comedians showing up in an unusual role, improvisational comedians, Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key take a break from their own Comedy Central series ‘Key & Peele) to play a couple of inept FBI agents. While everyone in this production is ideally suited to the characters they portray the breakout performance of the series belongs to Billy Ray Thornton. While there is no doubt that Malvo is truly evil thought that provides much greatest depths of the characters. In many ways he represents an archetype popular in mythology and folklore, the trickster. Where ever he goes mayhem and chaos follows. The way that he had to go through the pro forma exchange with Lester, asking is this what you really want in some way seems to insulate him, at least in his own mind, the death and destruction that evidently follows them. Malvo is more akin to a force of nature like a tornado or hurricane. It destroys lives in seems to indiscriminately kill with a detached attitude that is in itself more frightening than what he does. Over the course of 10 episodes in intricate story of crime, greed, and even love is woven into a tapestry much like the needlepoint that serves as the logo for the series. F/X has renewed the series for another season, and I am certainly looking forward to it.

Posted 10/03/2014

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