The Next 'Breaking Bad'? 'Fargo' Ep. 1 Is A Must-See [Video]

Tags: Martin Freeman - Billy Bob Thornton - Joel Cohen - Ethan Coen

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New television series Fargo premiered last night on FX, giving American audiences a first taste of the adaptation of the Coen Brothers famed 1996 dark comedy. Starring Martin Freeman ('The Hobbit') and Billy Bob Thornton ('Armageddon'), the new show has been developed by Noah Hawley ('Bones') but has received the blessing of Joel and Ethan Coen, who are acting as executive producers.

Martin Freeman Lester Nygaard Fargo
British Star Martin Freeman Adopts A Minnesotan Drawl For His 'Fargo' Character.

With plenty of black humour and often shockingly overblown violence, the show has been described by Hawley as more like ''a ten hour movie'', than a traditional series. Set in snowy Minnesota, Fargo is a furtherance of the '90s crime classic and has already been tipped by some as the next Breaking Bad in terms of its must-watch factor. Colin Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Oliver Platt, Kate Walsh, Keith Carradine, Adam Goldberg, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele all take supporting roles in the show.

10 years on from the Fargo movie, Freeman stars as Lester Nygaard, a mild-mannered insurance salesman, alongside Thornton's deranged, menacing killer, Lorne Malvo, who talks Lester into being tough in episode one, 'The Crocodile's Dilemma.'

Variety draws favourable parallels to the Coen's critically-acclaimed crime thriller, No Country For Old Men: "The implacable contract killer played by Billy Bob Thornton, for example, feels like a close cousin to Javier Bardem's philosopher-murderer in 'No Country for Old Men,' down to his sadistic streak and tendency to engage prey in casual (if inordinately uncomfortable) conversation."

THR is in agreement over the strength of Thornton's casting: "The casting on Fargo is superb, but none more so than Thornton, who is absolutely magnetic as the calm killer with a penchant for wry observation.... The four episodes that FX sent are a testament to Hawley's bold belief that he could tackle such an original piece of cinema and make it work on the small screen,"

"Like the movie, the series is peculiar, with an irregular rhythm and lots of black humor, and it is also oddly winning ... 'Fargo' isn't the movie; it's a television adaptation that lives up to the spirit of the original by straying.," says the NY Times.

Billy Bob Thornton Lorne Malvo Fargo
Critics Have Almost Unanimously Praises Billy Bob Thornton's Casting As The Psychotic Killer, Lorne Malvo.

Newsday's review is slightly more tethered, albeit still positive: "Since comparisons are inevitable, let's go ahead and make more: 'Fargo,' the series, is funnier than the film, more bleakly so. [...] But the film was a masterpiece of storytelling economy that didn't spill over into side-stories, a few of which are patently ridiculous in the series [...] The film's essential weirdness felt real. The TV series' weirdness is more often just comical (or disgusting. One word: Spiders.)"

The show's UK premiere is scheduled for this Sunday upon which Channel 4 Chief Creative Officer Jay Hunt commented "Fargo is a perfect Channel 4 show - a dark comedy, beautifully directed with a stunning cast. We are excited to be bringing it to a British audience."

Fargo premieres on Channel 4 in the UK on the 20th April.

More: Martin Freeman set to play Richard III in Shakespeare adaptation.

More: What to expect from the UK premiere of 'Fargo.'


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