Will FX's Fargo TV series be the next great police drama?

The Academy Award-winning black comedy is being adapted for television — but not everyone is convinced that its distinctive quirkiness will translate to the small screen

"Fargo" poster
(Image credit: Facebook.com/Fargo)

Tuesday offered some Minnesota-nice news for Fargo fans: The quirky 1996 police drama is being turned into a small-screen series on FX, with original writers/directors Joel and Ethan Coen serving as executive producers. The Coen brothers' original film was a massive success, earning critical raves and Academy Award wins for the Coen brothers and star Frances McDormand. (Watch the trailer for the original Fargo below.) But despite the film's popularity, FX's proposed series is far from a guaranteed hit; a previous Fargo pilot filmed in 1997, with The Sopranos' Edie Falco in the lead role, wasn't picked up for a series (though it eventually aired as part of a special in 2003). But with the Coen brothers onboard, and given FX's long history of police dramas, will the new Fargo show be must-see TV, or will viewers leave it out in the cold?

It's a very good sign that the Coen brothers are involved: We generally assume that any beloved movie being turned into a TV show will suck, says Amos Barshad at Grantland — but the Coen brothers wouldn't attach their names to the Fargo series if it didn't have potential. And it's not as if they're in an "atypical career rut" — their last film, True Grit, was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, and their next film is already lined up.

"Pros and cons: Fargo TV show edition"

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But the film's strengths may not translate to the smaller screen: One of the biggest strengths of Fargo — which, despite its title, takes place primarily in Minnesota — is how the film manages to be "so specific to a time and place," says Germain Lussier at SlashFilm. The film's story, which focuses on just a few key characters, is so "tight, contained, and well thought-out" that it may prove difficult for the show's writers to expand Fargo into something that stays compelling for weeks at a time.

"FX to make Fargo show with Joel and Ethan Coen"

If any channel can make a Fargo TV show work, it's FX: While the Coen brothers are involved, it's not yet clear how much they'll be involved, says Travis Woods at ScreenCrave. Still, the really exciting news for Fargo fans: The series is bound for FX, which is "becoming something akin to AMC's rowdier little brother in recent years." Dramas like The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, and Justified have proven that FX knows how to make an intelligent, action-packed drama. If anyone can crack the Fargo-on-TV conundrum, it's them.

"Fargo series is coming to FX, Coen brothers to produce"

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