I’ve written before on these pages about my admiration of the TV series Fargo, and I’ve spent the evenings of the last week binge-watching the fourth series (airing on Channel 4 and streaming on All4 in the UK).
Here’s what wiki has to say about the idea behind the show generally:
Fargo is an American black comedy/crime drama television series created and primarily written by Noah Hawley. The show is inspired by the 1996 film of the same name, which was written and directed by the Coen brothers, and takes place within the same universe. The Coens were impressed by Hawley’s script and agreed to be named as executive producers. The series premiered on April 15, 2014, on FX, and follows an anthology format, with each season set in a different era and location, with a different story and mostly new characters and cast, although there is minor overlap. Each season is heavily influenced by various Coen brothers films, with each containing numerous references to them.
Basically, if you like the Coen brothers’ movies, then chances are you’ll like this too. But, since the body count piles up in all four series, then perhaps avoid it if you’re even slightly squeamish.
Which would be your loss, for each series features fine interweaving multi-strand storylines, where you’re not always immediately sure how they are linked (plot-wise, they’re not afraid to throw not exactly a twist (although there are plenty of them) but a total curveball in from time to time too), and has been exquisitely filmed, often with gorgeous overhead tracking shots. You can tell not just by the cast of each series (Series 1: Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Colin Hanks; Series 2: Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson, Ted Danson, Jesse Plemons (if you don’t recognise the name, I dare say you’ll recognise him when you see him); Series 3: Ewan McGregor, David Thewlis, Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead; Series 3: Chris Rock, Jason Schwartzman, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw) but by the look of the show that a lot of money has been thrown at the production of each series.
Here’s the spoiler-free plot for the current series (again from wiki):
In 1950, the Cannon Limited, led by Loy Cannon (Chris Rock), threaten to usurp the Fadda Family, led by Josto Fadda (Jason Schwartzman), as the ruling crime organization in Kansas City, Missouri. In an effort to maintain peace, the groups agree to honor a tradition of trading the youngest sons between the two households. However, the alliance is jeopardized by the arrival of Josto’s brash brother Gaetano (Salvatore Esposito), as well as the unorthodox actions taken by a nurse named Oraetta Mayflower (Jessie Buckley). Meanwhile, Oraetta’s teenaged neighbour Ethelrida Pearl Smutny (E’myri Crutchfield) discovers her parents are in debt to the Cannon Limited, which gets her entangled in the criminal activities of Kansas City.
I have to say Rock – who I’ve only ever really encountered via his legendary stand-up routines – is an absolute revelation in his role, which is not to detract from any of the others; there’s not one duff performance on show here.
And, as when I last mentioned the show, there’s the soundtrack, a mix of blues, gospel, country and bluegrass guaranteed to pique the interest of anyone who regularly reads this series here.
As an example, this features in the current series, and it’s an absolute beauty: