(MA15+) Created by Noah Hawley
Starring Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton

by Ben McEachen

No-one expected Fargo to become a TV series. If anyone had, they would have thought what everyone did think, upon hearing Fargo was becoming a TV series.

Snowcaps off to writer Noah Hawley, then. His extended format of the Coen cracker overcame initial derision, as well as cemented its own memorable identity. Bringing a No Country For Old Men vibe, Hawley's ten-part exploration of moral erosion took us somewhere captivating, between Breaking Bad and True Detective.

Along with the Minnesotan kook of its source, Fargo sticks with a small-town schmuck, Lester (Freeman), corrupted by horrid empowerment. Lester's deplorable make-over is sparked by assassin Lorne (Thornton). This unrepentant nihilist is the lawless epicentre of Fargo's many new eruptions. Most prove enthralling, although Lester's schemes strain credulity and Lorne's circling flirts with filler.

Freeman and Thornton are spot-on, but its superb Allison Tolman (as the Marge-esque cop) who modestly provides the lasting impact of most benefit. Along with Colin Hanks' appealing Awkward Everyman, Tolman embodies the admirable impulse to do the right thing. Even when unfathomable evil comes to town.

This review was originally published in Empire magazine, TV Special edition (2014). For more Empire, click here.