Fargo: perfect pitch black comedy

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Fargo: perfect pitch black comedy

June 30, 2017 - 11:39
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I'm going to set my stall out early here - Fargo is brilliant TV.  Innovative, clever, dramatic and funny - this comedy is blacker than Simon Cowell's soul.

Ewan McGregor in Fargo

By Caroline Dowse @toongirl83

I'm going to set my stall out early here - Fargo is brilliant TV. Innovative, clever, dramatic and funny - this comedy is blacker than Simon Cowell's soul.

Based on the film of the same name, this is the third series and all three have followed the same pattern: an average Joe in Minnesota commits a crime and soon find themselves in over their heads and trying to avoid being caught by the police. This series focuses on Emmit and Ray Stussy (both played by Ewan McGregor) a pair of brothers who have been feuding for years. Emmit has a valuable stamp that Ray believes was promised to him, and when Emmit refuses to give it to him, Ray, a skint parole officer, asks one of his parolees, a junkie called Maurice LaFayre, to steal it for him. Unfortunately Maurice loses the piece of paper with Emmit's address on and goes to the wrong house. During the raid he kills the owner, Ennis Stussy, who just happens to be the stepfather of the local police chief, Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon).

Ray wants the stamp because he is dating one of his other parolees, the gorgeous Nikki Swango, and he wants to sell it so they can raise money to enter a bridge tournament. When Maurice tells them what he has done and tries to extort money from them to keep quiet, they panic and murder him by dropping an air conditioner on his head when he leaves their apartment building. It's a typical Fargo death, the sort that the Midsomer Murders writers would think was too outlandish.

Meanwhile Emmit has got his own problems. He owns a string of car parks and had borrowed money from the mysterious VL Varga (David Thewlis) to plough into it. When it came to paying back the money, Varga insisted it was an investment and he now owns a stake in the business. Varga is a strange guy, even by Fargo standards: he quotes a lot of religious text, he dresses in shabby suits and has bad teeth - not just because he's British, but he's also bulimic. Emmit and his business partner Si Phelps started to realise that Varga was a bad lot when he started to use their car parks to store his lorries and used their business to launder money.

There's also a myriad of other plots too. Si, who looks like a long lost Chuckle Brother, is involved in his own feud with Ray. He got Ray fired after exposing his relationship with Nikki and wrecked his car after an argument, which unwittingly got the police interested in Ray. While investigating her stepfather's death, Gloria discovered that he had been a writer of trashy sci-fi novels, who had fled LA and changed his name after almost killing a film producer who had conned him. She and her colleague, Winnie Lopez, are slowly piecing together the truth about Ennis's murder, and you can't help but cheer them on all the way.

We're only halfway through and there are so many questions. Who is Varga? What are in his mysterious trucks? What is Emmit and Ray's feud really about? It's all this that's keeping me watching.

Fargo can go a bit close to the edge though. In the most recent episode, Nikki was beaten up by Varga's thugs after a failed attempt to blackmail Emmit with a sex tape. The assault wasn't seen but it was heard, which somehow made it worse. Sorry to sound like a BBC continuity announcer, but if you are squeamish, Fargo won't be for you.

It continues this Wednesday at 10.30, having been moved forward half an hour for The Windsors. I suggest you get on All4 and catch up now, because Fargo is truly unmissable.