Review: Fargo - TV series (4 stars)

Review: Fargo - TV series

Coen brothers classic gets a brand new life on TV with Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton

For the first ten minutes you’ll wonder why the heck they bothered. The fears of anyone who couldn’t get through a day during the mid to late 90s without watching, thinking or breathing the Coen brothers snowy cult classic, Fargo, appeared to be realised. Martin Freeman was happily Minnesota-ing it up to the max, his accent simply drawing attention to the fact that this was Martin Freeman doing a weird Scandic-American accent. The quaint cops, dead deer and austere environs might well make you wonder why you’re not just re-watching the movie instead of this copycat farrago?

But then Billy Bob Thornton happens as Lorne Malvo, dragging Freeman’s all-round useless insurance salesman Lester Nygaard, into his labyrinthine plan for, well, who knows what just yet. BBT successfully injects a genuine sense of malice the way only a cold-blooded screen maverick killer can and lifts the opening episode of this ten-parter to thrilling new heights. ‘I just wanted to get a look at you’ he whispers at the man who bullied Lester at school and caused the nasal injury which brought Lorne and Lester together in the hospital waiting room.

The TV Fargo is nowhere near as amusing as you’ll remember Film Fargo being, but is twice as emotionally effective, even in this opener which places heavy significance on single parents and their vulnerable offspring. With much blood already shed, you’ll sit with fingers tightly crossed wondering whether the patrol cop does the right thing and walks away from mortal danger in the form of Lorne in a charitable frame of mind. It’s a scene that is as tense as the previous hour has been terrific.

Should Fargo continue in this successful vein, the floodgates will surely be flung open. Speculating which 90s movies are ripe for adaptation sounds like a fun game to fill Fargo’s many ad breaks.

Fargo starts on Channel 4, Sunday 20 April, 9pm

Fargo TV Series Official Story Trailer

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