The 10-episode FX channel program "Fargo" wraps up Tuesday evening, with interest and ratings in the show rising as quickly as snow piling up in a Minnesota blizzard.
Fans of the show, take note: Tuesday's USA Today promises a "stunner" of a conclusion, which includes a showdown between a brutal hit man and a cagey young (pregnant) deputy sheriff. The review says the show's final episode "...solidifies its place, not just as the year's best miniseries, but as one of the most satisfying ever made."
Often described as a dark comedy, the original show is a tonal descendant of the 1996 Academy Award-winning movie of the same name, which was produced, written and directed by Minnesota-born filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen. The FX show, according to TV critic Eric Deggins on NPR, recreates "...the land of snow and quirky, often-dimwitted criminal eccentrics," but introduces a fresh cast who "play out new tales of sordid activity in Bemidji, where the Minnesota nice is often punctured by bursts of violence and pain."
Show business trade publication Variety reported the ratings for "Fargo" have steadily climbed as it heads into the finale, noting that last Tuesday's episode was the night's No. 3 scripted cable program in the 18-49 demographic. It also reported a surge among fans who record the program for later viewing.
One way to tell that a show has caught on as a critical darling is when it is updated (warning! complete with spoilers!) on blogs following each episode. "Fargo" gets a regular recap on numerous high profile TV websites, including Entertainment Weekly, the ArtsBeat on the New York Times site, and the TV/Radio blog on The Guardian, for U.K. viewers of the series.
Voices, the entertainment blog of the Chicago Sun Times noted that critical acclaim for the show helped FX edge out HBO for bragging rights as the network with the most award nominations from the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. The 4th annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards will be presented June 19.
While shot in Canada, the action for "Fargo" is set in Bemidji and Duluth and, to a lesser extent, Fargo. The show has included video of a few local landmarks, including recreating Bemidji;s giant Paul Bunyan and Babe statues. Forum Communications, which owns newspapers in all three northern cities portrayed in the show, collected impressions from writers from the Fargo Forum, the Bemidji Pioneer and the Duluth News Tribune.
Brady Slater from the Duluth News Tribune appreciates the show's "stunning use of the regional landscapes," and the authentic details in the way Duluth is portrayed: "Industrial. Snow that both crunches and adheres to wheel wells."
Police investigating a crime bounce between Duluth and Bemidji like it was Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Bemidji Pioneer's Joe Froeming thought that did not accurately represent the miles between the towns. "It's actually like a three-hour drive, which I would think local police on the job wouldn't really take multiple trips of that distance and time," he said. "Also, where are all the trees?"
The Fargo Forum's John Lamb said the exaggerated Minnesota accents have been a heckuva point of contention, but Duluth's Slater said they're on the money. "I hear the accents, although, far subtler all the time. We're in denial when we take offense to this as Minnesotans. We ought to embrace our caricatures. It means people pay attention to us," he said. "What do they talk like in New Hampshire? Exactly."