FX's 'Fargo' TV Show Trailer Gives Us a First Look at Billy Bob Thornton and His Hair — VIDEO
Though today we might associate the Coen brothers with their more recent fare — Inside Llewyn Davis, No Country for Old Men, perhaps a nostalgic shout-out for The Big Lebowski — an enduring fan favorite will always be 1996's Fargo, a film that emphasized the everyday minutiae of its gruesome faux-"true story" murder plot, reminding us, with more than a little pitch-black humor, that brutal crimes happen even in places with sing-song accents. Now, 18 years later, the Coens have decided to revive the premise for a 10-episode miniseries, starring Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman, which will air on FX starting April 15 — and today, FX released a series of new trailers and a lengthy behind-the-scenes promo video, including interviews with the cast and creators. While there are plenty of reasons to look forward to the premiere — the Coens trying their hand at TV, Martin Freeman reprising his indomitable ordinary-dude-in-a-crazy-situation abilities — there are also, of course, a number of reasons to wonder whether we'll ultimately be disappointed.
For one, judging by the previews, these actors don't seem to be rocking the traditional Midwestern "don't ya now" trill that was so delightfully uniform in the original. But more than that, it's worth wondering whether such a spin-off is ultimately a good idea in the first place, because sometimes great things should simply be left alone. Billy Bob Thornton sums up my fears best in the opening line of this newly released promo: "I think when something's really good, like Fargo was, fans of it would like to see more" — a statement that, though it may absolutely feel true (especially to those of us who tend to weep whenever a piece of media ends, simply because we won't see those characters again), it doesn't necessarily mean that we'll actually ultimately be happier if that storyline were dragged out longer and longer.
As the Internet continues to seethe with How I Met Your Mother-related indignation [intentionally cryptic spoiler coming up], it's worth noting that much of viewers' frustration stems from the fact that a premise filmed in 2005 got tacked onto a show that ultimately ended nine seasons later in 2014 — much, much longer than its creators ever intended. The same goes for Lost, with showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse flat-out refusing to pen a Season 7 after being strong-armed into a fifth and sixth (and we all know how well those turned out). And who can say that Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides held even a flicker of a rum-fueled candle to the original? I mean, lest we forget, there were also the complaints surrounding the resurrected Arrested Development; the almost-there letdown that was Serenity, the Firefly movie; and what about that time they tried to make a series out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding? William Faulkner famously cautioned that "In writing, you must kill your darlings," and there's an argument to be made that the same applies to media franchises; all good things must come to an end, and it seems like, to preserve the good-factor, that end should come sooner rather than later.
Of course, it's also worth noting that Fargo-the-show appears to focus around primarily different people than Fargo-the-movie: The creators have, thankfully, avoided the potential pitfall of fatiguing beloved characters (though wouldn't it be great if Frances McDormand and her baby got a cameo at some point?). Maybe this show will be the Coens' Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then — a chance to create a whole new, exciting universe out of a film that felt somehow unfinished to them?
Still, given the now ever-popular miniseries format, in addition to the creators' behind-the-scenes description herein — that the series will play more like a "10-episode movie" while the plot revolves around "what happens when a very civilized man [Freeman] meets a very uncivilized man [Thornton]" — one starts to wonder whether Fargo is secretly the next season of True Detective. Or, worse, whether this series was greenlit primarily based on the preceding series' success, making it doubly derivative ("People like Americana crimefighting dudes duos — let's give 'em more!"), which, to return to Thornton's thesis, isn't always exactly the best approach. There is such a thing as oversaturation, after all.
If the Coens have one ultimate saving grace, though, it's their darkly comedic touch, which, judging by the previews, appears to be lavished on this series in spades. Not to heap too much praise on Freeman, but his wide, punched-in eyes are giving me everything in this trailer — as, for the record, is Thornton's bizarre haircut (hairpiece?). Plus, with an all-star deadpan team — including Adam "Chandler's crazy roommate on Friends" Goldberg and Oliver Platt, who for me will always be The West Wing's Oliver Babbish — at least we can be assured FX's Fargo will rise above a mere Law & Order: Midwest.