American Horror Story co-showrunners Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy’s anthology format must make the executives at FX happy, seeing how it allows the show to continually draw in both new viewers and top-tier acting talent (even after a lackluster 13-episode season) with the promise of something new – but not too unfamiliar, so as to be considered a risky investment for the cable network. It’s no wonder that FX is mulling over a similar approach with their upcoming TV series, Fargo.
Fargo is based on the Oscar-winning crime drama/dark comedy made by the Coen Brothers (who are executive producing the TV spinoff), but is so far being planned as a limited 10-episode television program… officially-speaking, that is. If the show does well enough for FX, then it may conceivably be extended into an anthology show, with each new season focused around a different tale of corruption and crime – maybe brought to life by an almost-entirely new cast each time, no less.
Until further notice, however, the only confirmed actors – who will cause trouble in that eponymous offbeat region of North-west America – are Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman, the fan-favorite co-lead on the BBC’s Sherlock and lead for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy. Deadline has the exclusive on Freeman having reached a deal for him to star alongside Thornton on the show as Lester Nygaard, a “small town insurance salesman henpecked by his wife, whose life is changed when a mysterious stranger, Lorne Malvo (Thornton), comes to town.”
The role of Lester begs comparison to Jerry Lundegaard (played by William H. Macy, in an Oscar-nominated turn) from the original Fargo movie. Not to mention, Freeman as a much put-upon everyman-gone-bad protagonist on the Fargo TV show may amount to a worthwhile variation on the protagonist archetype – all the more so, when compared to the current definitive version, i.e. Walter White on Breaking Bad. Even more interesting is that Freeman, like Bryan Cranston when he started on Breaking Bad, is exploring new territory here, as he’s better known for playing ungainly, yet likable and readily-sympathetic characters.
So far, the Fargo TV series – with Noah Hawley (Bones) on writing duties and Adam Bernstein (Breaking Bad, Californication) directing the first episode – seems to be in a good place, since its 10-episode layout has made it possible for someone as busy and in-demand as Freeman to join the cast. Fargo isn’t the sole movie-based FX show in the pipeline right now (see: the American Psycho sequel TV series), but it is showing the most promise of the lot at this stage.
… Besides, if the show doesn’t pull in large-enough ratings to justify more than a single season, then at least viewers will get a sense of closure by the time the last episode airs (concluding the drama that involves Freeman and Thornton’s onscreen counterparts). So many other single-season TV shows wish they’d been so lucky…
We’ll keep you posted on additional updates on Fargo as the story develops.