We keep saying it but we couldn’t be more excited about the second series of Fargo, which starts on Monday 19th October on Channel 4 (in the UK). Over in the US it has already started and the reviews have ranged from good to stellar, some going as far to say that Noah Hawley’s continuation of the Coen brothers’ original story might be the best TV drama of the year. And that’s after one episode. Bold statements indeed, but it’s not surprising – series one touched greatness from time to time, its mix of the farcical and macabre beautifully balanced. By the sounds of it, series two will be more of the same. Let’s see what the latest is…
The Daily Beast went behind the scenes of what they call the ‘perfect’ show (bold statement).
That the talented ensemble is gathered in frigid Canada to shoot the series at all is a bit of a holy miracle, especially considering the risk that the show’s co-creator and writer Noah Hawley incurred. “You don’t want to be the guy who ruined the Coen brothers,” he told me last year. “It’s like kicking the pope.”
The fascinating piece went on…
“This year, it’s different,” he says. “It’s 1979. The world could not be more fractured and complicated and desperate.” The Vietnam War was ending. Culture was clashing. “The feeling of a country in turmoil is inherent in the story and the question for our characters is: How do we get to 2006? How do we take this country that’s in turmoil and turn it into this safe community that we find, again, in 1987, when the movie is set?”
Twisted? Yes. Macabre. Definitely. But funny? Turns out you can take Fargo out of the hands of the Coen brothers, but you can’t take the Coen brothers out ofFargo. Comedy meets tragedy. Humor meets violence. Outlandish meets the real world. It’s the Coen brothers’ tone, and it’s back.
“The savagery is being dealt with by these earnest, innocent, decent people who are just not fully equipped for the hell that’s going to descend on their heads,” Danson says. “So that’s fun to play as well. How does this innocent and ill-equipped, earnest person come out on top?”
There was also an interesting chat with showrunner Noah Hawley over at the LA Times. He starts the interview by saying he was unconcerned with comparisons to True Detective (and the subsequent backlash after its disappointing second series), but then went on to speak about the look and feel of the show, which least we forget is set in 1979.
Yeah, we’re using some devices that are very ’70s, which was not how I constructed the story in my mind. That came while we were editing because we have so many moving pieces this year and stories that we’re away from for some time, so we were like, how do we keep those stories alive?
And so it became, like, you introduce these Gerhardts, and then you need to keep them alive, and so there will be moments throughout an episode where you might have a little montage where you’re transitioning from one group of characters to another, and in that transition you can split from Kirsten Dunst to Jeffrey Donovan to someone else. And then that naturally led to, OK, if we use those split screens, how can they naturally work for us within scenes or anything like that.
And also, music and the way we use music is a huge thing for me. And the great thing about an ensemble show is it becomes modular. I know in this script, this scene came in from that scene, but now it actually works better if we move this whole piece.
He then goes on to talk about the process of conceptualising and then writing the show, revealing some interesting tidbits about his process:
I ended up giving it to them in two halves. There was a script and probably four or five more outlines. We made some adjustments, and then I gave them the last four hours. I would say that I spent a little less time at the outline stage. I was sort of like, well, they trust me now. Plus, it’s a huge year and very ambitious. And you sit down with an outline and think I can’t fit half of this into 50 pages.
It was part of that learning curve as well. It forces you to distill down the most important aspects of the story. What’s cool about having a lot of moving pieces is in the beginning, you’re telling four or five stories, and by the end, you’re telling one story. It all starts to come together in the middle in a way that is really satisfying.
I had the same writers both years. I just thought it was [crappy] not to give people scripts. And they did great. And it was great to have that continuity. I know Vince Gilligan had the same writers the whole time on “Breaking Bad.” It really pays off.
All interesting stuff. If we couldn’t wait for Monday before, we’re positively frothing now.
Fargo: Monday 19th October, 10pm, Channel 4
For all our Fargo news and reviews, go here