Apparently there was an earlier attempt at a television spin-off of the Coen brothers’ blackly comic film classic – this time starring Kathy Bates – but I never saw that and approached this television series with a degree of trepidation.
Well, I was more than pleasantly surprised. Black comedy is a delicate balancing act and Fargo cleverly slides that razor’s edge between noir and comedy, violence and slapstick, and the cruelty inherent in both. And Fargo is true noir. Crime fiction is about bringing order to chaos and noir is about bringing chaos to order. In crime fiction the ordinary man in tested by circumstances and becomes some sort of a hero. In noir he becomes a villain.
Hence Lester Nygaard – played by Martin Freeman – is a great creation. Great performances and characters abound and Bill Bob Thornton’s Lorne Malvo is a particularly marvellous bad guy. The writing is as tight as a snare drum and it’s a beautiful looking show, too.
(This first appeared over at THE KILLING TIMES)