Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Yah. OK, then. It's time once again for Fargo, the series that's set in "Mini-sota" and loosely based on the 1996 Coen brothers film of the same name.
The third installment of the crime/black comedy series debuts from 9 to 10:30 p.m. Wednesday on FX and stars Scottish actor Ewan McGregor in the double roles of brothers Emmit and Ray Stussy.
Never fear. McGregor is a professional. His Minnesota accent is passable.
McGregor (the Star Wars prequel trilogy) is the big-name movie star for this season. Fans of the series, created and primarily written by Noah Hawley (Legion), will recall the first season was set in 2006 and starred Arkansas native Billy Bob Thornton, Colin Hanks, Martin Freeman and the Arkansas-connected Allison Tolman.
The connection: Tolman's grandmother, Natalie Tolman, and her aunt, Laurie Lovett, live in Hot Springs. Allison spent many summers as a child visiting her Arkansas relatives.
Fargo Season 2 jumped back to 1979 and starred, among others, Kirsten Dunst, Jean Smart and Ted Danson. Both seasons met with critical acclaim and earned a pile of Emmy nominations.
Season 3 of the anthology skips ahead four years after Season 1 and again claims, "This is a true story. The events depicted took place in Minnesota in 2010. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred."
This, of course, is a dramatic device. The stories are not true. Hawley made them up.
In a December FX news conference, Hawley said that none of the main characters from the first year will be back this season. But setting the story in 2010 will allow for a "more contemporary story."
FX president John Landgraf added that millennial culture "is very antithetical to the Lutheran pragmatism of the region. So, many of our crime stories are based on the difficulty that people have expressing themselves and communicating. I like the idea of setting up these pragmatic and humble people against the culture of narcissism and [seeing] what that generates for us, storywise."
For Season 3, the story revolves around the Stussy brothers. Emmit (known as the "Parking Lot King of Minnesota") is successful, wealthy and well-respected. The slightly younger Ray is a parole officer, a loser and living forever in his brother's shadow. He blames Emmit for his failure in life.
The escalating sibling rivalry leads to dark things -- theft, the mob and foul, foul murder.
As usual, an outstanding ensemble has been assembled.
Carrie Coon (The Leftovers, Gone Girl) plays practical Eden Valley police chief Gloria Burgle. She's a newly divorced mother baffled by a world where people connect more intimately with their phones than with those around them. She's also baffled that she is never able to set off the motion sensors of automatic doors.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane) portrays Ray's girlfriend Nikki Swango, a sexy and crafty recent parolee obsessed with hitting the big time through competitive bridge tournaments.
David Thewlis (Harry Potter film series) plays this season's villain, the mysterious and brutal V.M. Varga. He represents the mobsters who turn a seemingly innocent loan to Emmit into a nefarious scheme to horn in on his business without his permission.
Varga goes nowhere without his brace of thugs, Yuri and Memo (Goran Bogdan and Andy Yu).
Emmitt's right-hand man, Sy Feltz, is played by Michael Stuhlbarg, and comedian Jim Gaffigan portrays police officer Donny Mashman.
I've only seen the first two episodes, but it's immediately apparent the series is still on the top of its game. Hawley rolls out the storyline in well-crafted layers and with tantalizing deliberateness. There is none of the frenetic rush to lay out the facts in order not to lose the audience before the first commercial.
Fargo is a dish to be savored, not devoured. This is highly rewarding, exceptional television and not to be missed.
Fargo trivia: To ensure plenty of snowy landscapes to go along with the Minnesota accents, the series is filmed in Calgary, Alberta. So that makes it Canadian snow. Fortunately, snow looks like snow.
For the record, the snow scenes for the original film were shot in northern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota, but not in Fargo.
• Nashville. CMT has renewed its highest-rated and most-watched series for another 16-episode season to premiere early next year. Meanwhile, Nashville's midseason premiere is set for 8 p.m. June 1.
The TV Column appears Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. Email:
Style on 04/18/2017
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