Almost a decade after the Coen brothers distinctive crime thriller Fargo hit theaters, the story has been adapted to the small screen with a new ten-episode miniseries. With the Coens serving as executive producers, fans of the cult hit are optimistic that the TV show will live up to the Oscar-winning film.
While the new show keeps the frigid, small-town Minnesota setting and the darkly comic themes, the characters and storyline are brand new. Billy Bob Thornton stars as drifter Lorne Malvo, whose arrival brings violence and mayhem to Fargo and its citizens.
In episode one, which aired April 15 on FX, the audience was introduced to the three central characters: Malvo; Martin Freeman, who plays a small time insurance salesman named Lester Nygaard; and Joey King as Greta Grimly, the police officer who is investigating a mysterious murder that coincided with Malvo’s arrival in town.
Nygaard is immediately presented as an extremely pathetic character. After he’s taunted on the street by his high school bully and the bully’s sons, he encounters Malvo when he’s being treated at the hospital for a broken nose. When he jokingly suggests that he’d be better off with the bully dead, Malvo takes him one better and stabs Nygaard’s tormentor in the head with an ice pick.
Bolstered by the effect that Malvo has had on his life, Nygaard strikes back when he’s belittled by his wife, beating his spouse to death with a hammer and then calling on Malvo to help him dispose of her remains. The situation escalates further when a police officer comes to investigate the bully’s murder, and Malvo murders him and flees the scene. Meanwhile, police detective Molly Solverson is trying to figure out the connection between Malvo, Nygaard, and the three dead bodies that have piled up. How’s that for a show premiere?
While this may sound like a dark premise (and it is), it’s also a laugh-out-loud funny comedy that is true to the spirit of the original film.