When I first heard that FX was adapting the Coen Brothers classic, Fargo, I had a whole string of doubts. How dare FX adapt a modern day classic like Fargo? How could any TV writer possibly hope to ape the idiosyncratic dialogue and style of a Coen Brothers film, their unique sense of humor? How could any actor hope to live up to Frances McDormand’s iconic performance as Marge Gunderson? It just all seemed too implausible, too ridiculous to ever work.
The whole situation was really not helped by timing at all, either. Fargo first premiered in April of 2014, a mere month after the finale of the endlessly talked-about True Detective on HBO. True Detective‘s combination of fantastic lead performances, direction by Cary Joji Fukunaga, perfect timing with Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar win – it all created such cultural buzz for True Detective, that at first, Fargo came across as a cheap imitation. It seemed as if someone at FX had heard that HBO was doing an anthology crime drama, and said “Hey, that sounds like a good idea!”
So, I was very pleasantly surprised to find out that not only is Fargo a fantastic television program on its own merits, it actually surpasses True Detective. As I’ve sometimes described Fargo to friends, Fargo is the show that True Detective wishes it were. It’s also probably the best show on TV right now. And that’s saying something.
How do I even begin to describe Nathan For You? It’s one of the best shows on TV, that much is certain. But is it a prank show? An elaborate piece of performance art? A sketch show? I couldn’t rightly say. But this much is clear: it’s nothing like anything else on TV.
In what seems like a dream matchup of content, creator, and service, Aziz Ansari will be toplining a comedy series for Netflix according to Deadline. Aziz Ansari has been a rising star for years and was frequently one of the best parts about the recently ended Parks and Recreation. So, it’s very exciting to hear that Ansari will once again be working with the same writers on this new show.
This is also seems like a fantastic fit because of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, the other big live-action sitcom series that Netflix premiered earlier this year. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was created for NBC, the same network that Parks and Rec was on, and created by Tina Fey, who of course is good friends with Amy Poehler. I guess what I’m trying to say is, the people involved in these two shows are very much in the same circles, and the two shows could make for very prime companion shows (granted that that concept is relatively meaningless on a platform like Netflix), and if this Ansari show is anything close to the quality of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, I’m excited.
Sketch comedy shows are a tough nut to crack. They tend to be very hit-and-miss, and even some of the best sketch shows had/have pretty poor ratios. Saturday Night Live, for all its history, has one of the lower ratios out there – on any given night there might only be one or two good sketches out of a set of eight to ten. And yet, in some circles, it’s the gold standard.
Deadwood is easily one of the greatest TV series in recent memory, if not ever. In recently concluding the fantastic run of Justified I felt obligated to go back and re-watch the Deadwood pilot (and possibly more) to compare Seth Bullock to Raylan Givens. Continue reading “Deadwood Pilot”→