October 23, 2017

The Bridge and Fargo from FX Network

Two shows from FX Network have snagged my attention, both based on previous successful creations. “Fargo,” a TV series based on the same-named 1996 Coen brothers film is given an excellent ten episode story arc that is reminiscent of the movie in setting and dark humor flavor. The actors even have the quirky Minnesotan Scandihoovian accent down.

Billy Bob Thornton plays the scariest villain since Javier Bardem in “No Country For Old Men.” Martin Freeman (of PBS’s “Sherlock Holmes”) plays his hapless apprentice in murder and mayhem. The characters you fall in love with are two deputy cops, Molly Solverson (played by Chicago actress Allison Tolman) and Colin Hanks portraying Bemidji police officer Gus Grimly. Molly’s ex-state trooper father is none other than Keith Carradine who runs the local diner. The cast is rounded out by bumblers and baddies: Bob Odenkirk (of “Breaking Bad”) is the clueless chief of police, Oliver Platt is the “Grocery King of Minnesota,” Kate Walsh is a libidinously greedy widow and Adam Goldberg plays an enforcer from the Fargo Crime Syndicate. If the show is picked up (and FX would be wise to do so), there will be different characters and a new plot next season. I will miss Molly Solverson and Gus Grimly!

Hulu Plus is currently carrying the original Danish TV series “The Bridge” (which I favorably wrote about several posts ago), and they just made Season 1 of the FX re-make available. I am always leery of American re-dos of popular foreign series (“Homeland” being an exception), but I must say that Fargo show runner Noah Hawley and crew have possibly improved upon the dramatic possibilities with their version.

The original premise begins with a body found on a bridge between Denmark and Sweden which is the difference between oatmeal and cream of wheat. In the American version, the setting is a bridge between El Paso, TX and Juarez, Mexico which sets up a veritable collision of cultural differences. Think spicy salsa versus apple pie.

Thank heavens there is no longer any stigma for movie actors to take TV roles which allows us to see the fabulous German-born Diane Kruger play a socially inept detective on the El Paso police force. (Her strange behavior is never named but appears to be perhaps Asperger’s or autism.) Her Mexican counterpart is a morally suspect homicide detective from the state of Chihuahua played by Damian Bechir (seen in “Weeds.”) The police boss in El Paso is the lovable Chicago actor Ted Levine (from “Monk) and Annebeth Gish plays another lascivious and entrepreneurial widow. Even quirky singer-actor Lyle Lovett shows up as a very shady lawyer. This show wraps up some of the story lines in its 13 episode first season, but leaves other cliff hangers to be resolved in Season 2 which will begin July 9, 2014. You have roughly two weeks to consume Season 1 of this compelling series. Stock up on tortilla chips to go with your salsa and ice cream for your pie.

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