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Review Roundup: Expect to See ‘Fargo’ on Many Top 10 Lists This Year (Except Ours)

Review Roundup: Expect to See 'Fargo' on Many Top 10 Lists This Year (Except Ours)

The best-reviewed TV series of the year so far is “Fargo” (FX), which has drawn raves from nearly everyone for its violent, off-kilter tale of a Fargo, N.D. crime family (led by the excellent Jean Smart), the Kansas City mob, a state trooper (Patrick Wilson), and a young beautician (Kirsten Dunst) who get mixed up in a triple murder in small-town Minnesota in 1979. Emphasis on the “nearly”: in my review of the new season, I called creator Noah Hawley’s strained vision “an aesthetic pileup on an icy road.” (Criticwire’s Sam Adams isn’t a fan, either.)

Otherwise, loyalists can take heart in the consensus that “Fargo” is even better form now than it was last season, when it became the spring’s breakout sensation before nabbing the Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries. Season 2 premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on FX. Read excerpts from the glowing reviews below:

Liz Shannon Miller, Indiewire:
“[U]nlike so many other shows that fall under the banner of ‘premium drama,’ ‘Fargo’ is careful to balance its horrors with some joy. One of my favorite moments from this year’s TCA summer press tour was when ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Sherlock’ showrunner Steven Moffat pointed out something that, in retrospect, is shockingly obvious: ‘The nice thing about writing drama is that if you put three jokes in, everybody thinks you’re a genius.’ But while Moffat was glib about that realization, it really is a major undercurrent of ‘Fargo’s success as a TV show. We watch ‘Fargo’ for the roller coaster; for the knowledge that something funny or bizarre might take an abrupt turn into awful-town—or vice versa.”

Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture:
“The crime story is merely the clothesline along which ‘Fargo’
strings all manner of subplots, embellishments, grace notes, and
splendid images. Season two expands and deepens a fiendishly complex
world. Its conception owes as much to Stephen King’s Maine—and in its
more nuanced moments, Jon Dos Passos’s ‘USA’ trilogy; yes, really—as it does to anything the Coens have made.”

Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com:
“This is confident, clever, fantastic television. It doesn’t have a trio of characters as instantly vibrant as the three at the core of season one, and it doesn’t have a premiere episode that will make jaws drop like last time around, but the first four episodes develop into something remarkable of their own, again thematically referencing back to the last trip to the snowy North, but in its own, mesmerizing way.”

Brian Lowry, Variety:
“FX’s frost-covered drama appears to have equaled its splendid predecessor, capturing the same off-kilter tone while actually enhancing the comedy quotient. If the first series deftly approximated the spirit of its movie namesake, this one works in a cheeky Quentin Tarantino vibe, with results as refreshing and bracing as the region’s abundant snow.”

Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter:
“It’s thrilling to witness what creator Noah Hawley has
dreamed up this time, and how the series fearlessly tackles the task of
mixing drama, comedy, goodness, malevolence, hopefulness, tragedy and
mundane everyday life—often in the same episodes, sometimes in the
same scene. It’s the kind of ambition that can lead to stumbles, but
even when it does you appreciate the attempt.”

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