The drama is hotting up nicely in Fargo

Sunday: Fargo; (Channel 4, 12am)

Saturday, 12th June 2021, 5:00 pm

“There’s an immediate rush that comes from the opening minutes of a new season of Fargo,” claims the Hollywood Reporter.

And they’re not wrong.

When it was first announced that a spin-off TV series inspired by the Coen brothers’ 1996 Oscar-winning film was going to be made, some critics and fans raised their eyebrows in horror – after all, how could anybody equal or better the original?

Chris Rock as Loy Cannon

The Coens are certainly a tough act to follow, but Noah Hawley, the show’s creator, primary writer and executive producer, has somehow managed it. The first run blew many viewers away and went on to win eight Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Miniseries. What was particularly impressive was the way in which Hawley managed to pay homage to the film without copying it. Instead, it simply lives in the same universe.

Set in 2006, the season stars Allison Tolman and Colin Hanks as police officers hunting down evil Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton), who is exerting a malign influence on a small Minnesota town, including a put-upon local insurance salesman (Martin Freeman).

The second switched to 1979, with Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons as a married couple trying to cover up a hit-and-run incident. However, it was Ted Danson who stole the show as the local sheriff.

In season three, Ewan McGregor took the dual role of a hapless probation officer and his successful businessman brother. David Thewlis also popped up as a chilling and, frankly, revolting figure who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

Season four began six weeks ago and although it perhaps lacks some of the sparkle of its predecessors, it’s been well worth a look so far.

This time Hawley has transported viewers to Kansas City, Missouri, in 1950, where Loy Cannon’s firm hopes to usurp the Fadda family as the ruling crime organisation in the area. Loy is also trying to persuade the local banks to back his new invention – the credit card – while unorthodox nurse Oraetta Mayflower is getting up to all sorts of mischief.

Nick Lee, Head of Acquisitions & International at Channel 4 says of the series: “We are thrilled to bring back the biggest and most gripping Fargo yet, with some absolutely unmissable performances. Fargo explores a breadth of engaging and complex storylines and it’s a fantastic opportunity to bring this unique cinematic show to our audiences once again.”

We’re now at the halfway mark of the run and it’s fair to say that things are hotting up nicely.

This week, as Loy attempts to gain an advantage, his Italian rivals have other matters on their mind, and Rabbi is forced to put his life on the line.

Meanwhile, Deafy finally has proof that Detective Weff isn’t exactly a straight arrow, and cracks finally begin to show in Oraetta’s chirpy facade.

Chris Rock, Jessie Buckley, Jason Schwartzman, Jack Huston and Ben Whishaw head the superb cast.

Whether there will be a season five, however, remains to be seen – Hawley is currently working on a TV spin-off from the Alien film franchise, and we can hardly wait to see what he does with that.

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