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Fargo: Season 2
DVD | Box Set
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Nominated for 3 Golden Globes®, including Best Television Limited Series, and featuring a phenomenal cast, FARGO returns for a critically acclaimed second season. Set in 1979, this all-new true crime saga kicks off with violent foul play at a South Dakota Waffle Hut. In a flash, the case ensnares a small-town beautician (Golden Globe® nominee Kirsten Dunst*), a Minnesota state trooper (Golden Globe® nominee Patrick Wilson**) and a local sheriff (Ted Danson) all set against the backdrop of an explosive Midwestern mob war. Is FARGO Season Two chock full of riveting suspense, brilliant performances and darkly hilarious humor? You betcha.
*Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series. **Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series.
**Waiting for Dutch
**Before the Law
**Skip Sprang TV Commercial
**Myth of Sisyphus, The
**Fear and Trembling
**Gift of the Magi, The
**The Films of Ronald Reagan: Audio Commentary by Bruce Campbell
**Did You Do This? No, You Did It!
**Waffles and Bullet Holes: A Return to Sioux Falls
**Lou on Lou: A Conversation With Noah Hawley, Keith Carradine and Patrick Wilson
**The History of True Crime in the Midwest
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Unlike the first season there is no direct tie in to the movie plot. There are a couple scenes that pay homage to the movie, one that was akin to the wood chipper scene in the movie, and one where Jerry cannot open his car door and just beats on his car for about a minute. The show is very violent, much more so than even season one. There is pretty much a scene like the elevator scene toward the end of season one in every episode. There is some sex and nudity, but it is pretty much contained to one episode, and a lot of swearing. So if any of that will turn you off to the show then it is best to skip it.
For those who get the actual discs, the show looks and sounds great on blu ray. The set is fairly light on the extras. There is an 8 min "commentary" where Bruce Campbell, playing Ronald Regan does commentary on a couple of the clips of Regan's movies that play during the show. On the last disc there is a 45 min making of feature, a 15 min chat with the series creator and Patrick Wilson and Keith Caradine (separately) discussing their take on the character Lou, and then a short feature on the book that they created for the series, True Crimes of the Midwest. Good for what is there, but it would have been even better if there were commentary tracks for at least some of the episodes.
You can read plot summaries elsewhere so in brief, in 1979 Fargo, ND the Gerhardt family business is organized crime operating from their fortified ancestral farm. Youngest son, Rye (Kieran Culkin) trying to facilitate a deal with a local typewriter shop owner attempts to strong arm a judge’s decision regarding a back tax issue. His efforts catastrophically fail resulting in multiple homicides and his own demise and involving the innocent Blumquist family. Concurrently the Kansas City mob takes this opportunity to launch a hostile takeover of the Gerhardt syndicate and all hell breaks loose to put it mildly. The writing is top-shelf and the story and dialog will demand your attention every episode.
Kirsten Dunst is definitely getting better with age. Not everyone can pull off a Farrah Fawcett hairstyle and a pretty horrible late 70’s wardrobe and look good doing it. Her delusional hairdresser and hoarder Peggy Blumquist clearly is unhappy with her life and schlubby spouse Ed the butcher (Jesse Plemons also superb as a man who’s helpless in a battle of wits with his witless wife) and hopes a self actualization seminar for women will make her “the best me” she can be. Events conspire against her however in horrific Fargo style. Dunst is excellent and her attempts to rationalize her actions in a later scene opposite Ted Danson (Sheriff Hank Larsson) are enthralling. Danson is amazing as well (as usual) and the incredulity on his face listening to this woman he thinks he knows is priceless.
As mentioned, this cast is so good; Jean Smart as the Gerhardt family matriarch is marvelous in her subtle portrayal of a criminal enterprise leader who’s not to be trifled with. It’s hard to believe this is the same person who was sweet Charlene on “Designing Women” but she looks like a sinister version of my grandmother. Nick Offerman who I’ve been a fan of since “Parks & Recreation”, plays the best (and only) lawyer in town and makes the most of a secondary role chewing the scenery whenever he’s on screen. Likewise, Zahn McClarnon who portrays the lethal Native American Gerhardt henchman Hanzee is short on dialog but long on action delivers a strong performance. I’d be remiss not mentioning Patrick Wilson who plays State Trooper Lou Solverson, the younger version of Keith Carradine’s diner owning father of Officer Molly Solverson from Season 1. His task is quite a challenge in imagining what this much younger version of Lou should be without doing a Carradine impression and he pulls it off admirably.
And there’s more; “Burn Notice” fans rejoice; this season gives us not only Jeffery Donovan as the Gerhardt’s eldest son Dodd but Bruce Campbell in a surprisingly restrained turn as none other than Ronald Reagan. From watching the bonus features it’s impressive how much energy Campbell put into his characterization of the late president for what amounts to a fairly small role. Personally I didn’t see the point of including Reagan in the story but have to admit that Campbell made his appearance a treat. Donovan deserves credit for taking on a role that’s a far cry from the suave, super spy he made famous on seven season’s of “Burn Notice” and as Dodd he’s both menacing and at times amusing. Wikipedia reports he gained 30# transforming for the part and had to suffer a laughable hairstyle and worse wardrobe. No Oliver Peoples $450 sunglasses with this guy.
The last 20 minutes or so aren’t all that exciting and something of a letdown but do wrap up a few loose ends. The Kansas City mobster dispatched to take out the Gerhardts, Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) winds up getting a promotion for his hard “work” reminiscent of the same fate suffered by Vic Mackey in “The Shield”. His reaction to getting a tiny office in an corporate building instead of something more exciting is funny and a fitting outcome for him.
The look and feel of the show captures the era with the kind of precision you’d see in “Mad Men”. I was in college in 1979 and vividly remember the cars and clothes. On occasion a bit of anachronistic language creeps in (“Don’t over think it” for example) but it’s very rare. One thing I’m conflicted about with this season is the music; it seems they’re trying too hard to be clever and campy with many of the selections. Rather than accent the on-screen action in some cases it’s just distracting. I also felt the whole UFO thing was just unnecessary and an attempt to burnish the series quirky cred, almost like a device you’d expect from “Twin Peaks”. Small complaints I’ll admit and they don’t diminish my recommending this series highly. There’s a bit of bad language and of course plenty of bloodshed so beware if you’re easily offended by those elements.