Fargo (FX Cable) opened its new season this week as the best crime series on TV. The series is a spin-off from the cult classic neo-noir movie by Joel and Ethan Coen. The TV version has faithfully lived up to the standards of its acclaimed movie predecessor.
The familiar plot elements are still present. The snowy, blank whiteness of the Minnesota landscape. Slow thinking, earnest small town cops. An act of stupidly impulsive violence that triggers a chain of out-of-control consequences. The pervasive undertone of quirky, deadpan black humor.
Add to that a brewing gang war between a local family crime business and invading organized crime mobsters. Caught in the middle is a hapless, none-too-bright married couple who accidently kill one of the criminals, then clumsily try to cover it up.
The great theme of the Coen brothers has always been a bleak, fatalistic view of humanity and the misguided acts that people undertake which lead inexorably to their own destruction. The empty white landscape serves as a metaphor for the amoral blankness in which the characters flail futilely about.
The Fargo TV series is faithful to that theme, offering a pitch black, quirky crime drama and a cast of dumbly motivated, morally vacant people who can't get out of the disastrous situations they have blundered into.