April 15, 2014 8:30pm PT by Brian Porreca
'Fargo' Premiere Recap: The Same -- Only Different
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the series premiere of FX's limited series Fargo.]
With original Fargo screenwriter-directors Joel and Ethan Coen on board as executive producers, FX set the stage for its take on the 1996 Oscar-nominated feature with the first of its 10-episode series.
From showrunner Noah Hawley (My Generation), FX's Fargo is set in a world that begins the day after the events in the film. The new series draws similarities from the original, which earned the Coen brothers an Academy Award for their screenplay, while still standing out with its own punches.
Here's a look at the three central characters in the series -- which will tell a complete story over its 10 episodes -- and how they're similar (and different) to their big-screen alter egos.
TV's Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) vs. film's Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand)
Similarities: Both characters are cheeky and curious, two traits needed for a police officer in the midst of a murder investigation. Molly is introduced at a crime scene with the town chief of police, Vern Thurman (Shawn Doyle). While he is ready to call it a day, Molly -- like Marge -- makes sure to assess every detail. This leads her to a deer stuffed in the trunk of the car and a man frozen in his boxers.
Differences: Like the other characters, Molly's accent is not as strong as Marge's was (likely Hawley's marching orders) and, well, she's not pregnant, either. Marge was police chief, and though Molly hasn't filled that seat in the premiere, the writing may be on the wall as the now late Vern tells her, "You'll make a good chief one day."
Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) vs. Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy)
Similarities: Not only do their last names rhyme, but both are anxious and timid. Lundegaard was a car salesman and Nygaard sells life insurance. And like the bumbling car salesman Jerry was in the film, Lester ain't the best at it, either. "If you were a better salesman, I would have bought you a nicer tie," Lester's nagging wife, Pearl (Kelly Holden Bashar), says. Both breathe a stutter of hesitation before finalizing a decision, and both are victims of bad luck. (Wah, wah.)
Differences: Lundegaard was more desperate for money and paid to have his wife kidnapped in order to claim the ransom. Nygaard could use some cash, but he's looking more for more peace of mind -- and for Pearl to just shut up. Instead of having his wife kidnapped, Lester clocks her dead with a hammer. And so his troubles begin …
Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) vs. Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi)
Similarities: Both actors fully embody their characters, bringing humor, trickery and candid quips to the screen.
Differences: Out of all the characters FX's Fargo introduces, these two could not be more different. Carl is a bit aloof, whereas Lorne is extremely calculated. While the careless Carl attempts to cover up a crime and is spotted, Lorne kills from behind and is careful to remove any evidence of his involvement -- though he leaves the mess of his victims for authorities to discover. Lorne is also a lot more cryptic than Carl was. Carl's relationship with Jerry was hostile at times, but Lorne offers more of guidance to the unfortunate Lester. It's part friendship, but also a bit foreboding -- who knows how their odd relationship will evolve from here.
Similarities: There is no mystery. FX's Fargo is not a procedural or detective drama. The purpose is not to find out who pulled the trigger or darted a knife into the town bully's scull at a strip club. The mystery in both the film and FX series is more basic: It's an adventure into what could possibly happen next. What chaos can ensue? Whose body will be washed up along the way? Where will Lester end up? And, more curious, what is Malvo really plotting?
What did you think of Fargo? Will you return to the frozen mystery? Hit the comments below with your thoughts. Fargo airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.