Fabulous ‘Fargo’ sets the quality bar

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Chris Rock in “Fargo” series four.

Streaming columnist NICK OVERALL rejoices at the arrivals of a new series of “Fargo” and looks at a documentary about making friends with an octopus (no, really).

WE’RE lucky enough to be living in a golden age of television. So much to watch, so many places to watch it, and so much quality, it’s near dizzying.

Nick Overall.

And if you need evidence, check out the series “Fargo”. SBS On Demand will inevitably be drawing in the viewers this week as it nabbed the rights to premiere the fourth and newest season of this hit show in Australia. 

This is a powerful move for the platform. The popularity of “Fargo” also sees it in a prime place on Netflix’s catalogue here Down Under, though SBS looks the winner in the race for the latest instalment.

Running since 2014, “Fargo” is an anthology crime series like no other. Each season focuses on a different, offbeat set of characters who find themselves in the most bizarre of crime scenarios.

The first season is heavily based on the 1996 film that shares its name with the show. It scored lead Frances McDormand an Oscar for her performance as Marge Gunderson, a wholesome and humble police woman navigating a strange set up where a down and out car salesman (William H Macy) tries to earn extra cash by secretly hiring two deadbeats to kidnap his wife for ransom.

Fargo season 1 takes the strange plot beats of the film but twists them into a new 10-part episodic series that’s captivating, quirky and poetic. Martin Freeman channels the energy of William H Macy’s performance into a new dud salesman who ends up taking quite the dark new lease on life.

In the second season, we’re thrown back to the ’70s American mid-west where a couple, played by Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons, try to cover up the hit and run of the son of a powerful criminal matriarch. 

Season 3 gives us one of Ewan McGregor’s finest performances, where he plays twins trying to dig their way out of another of these surreal and stupendous scenarios. So crisp is the editing that sees them talking to one another throughout the story, the viewer can easily forget it’s one man playing both roles.

“Fargo” is hard to pin down in just a few words – “crime drama” doesn’t do it justice. There’s sweeping musical scores backdropping dramatic kidnappings, murders and mayhem, and it’s supported by a dark comedic style that’s black as night. 

Each story is contextualised for its time period and offers not only a riveting tale of crime, but one that grasps with philosophy, history, politics, economics and almost everything in between.

The fourth season is sending us to ’50s Kansas City and will deal with the face-off between two rival gangs fighting for control of the city. However, with “Fargo” there’s always more behind what’s said in a simple plot description.

The series has seen massive success both critically and among viewers, and it’s made the now nearly 25-year-old film (a masterpiece in my humble opinion and streaming on Stan) all the more recognised, too. 

 

NETFLIX may have missed the boat for “Fargo” but it does have a peculiar new documentary that’s making headlines. We’ve already seen one rare unit this year become friendly with tigers, but what about octopi?

“My Octopus Teacher” is a film about the real-life friendship between a diver and an octopus, off the coast of South Africa. After studying the octopus on a day-to-day basis for a few months, eventually the diver earns its trust and the two become closely bonded in a way that, incredibly, seems almost human.

Some reviews have been calling it the best film of the year and it’s earned quite the renown as a major tearjerker. 

Two entirely different productions trending this week indeed, but certainly a testament to the quality and variety coming out of the streaming world. Television revolution. 

 

More of Nick Overall on Twitter @nick_overall

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