MGM is continuing to dig into its sizable library for remake material. This time they've inked a deal with the Coen Brothers and FX for a potential series based on their 1996 crime-drama-dark-comedy hybrid Fargo.
The deal is that the Coens will be executive producers of the project, but I doubt they will be show-runners since it would nullify their feature film career, the actually day-to-day show-running would be handled by writer/exec-producer Noah Hawley, and former NBC boss turned exec-producer Warren Littlefield.
Now if you've lived in a cave since 1996 I'll do a little explaining. Fargo was a low budget dark comedy produced by Polygram Filmed Entertainment. The story was about a used car salesman who hires two low rent lowlifes to kidnap his wife so he could extort the ransom out of his wealthy father-in-law.
Naturally, it wouldn't be a Coen Bros movie without everything going terribly wrong, and the rip-offs, betrayals, and murders put the hapless hoods in the path of Marge Gunderson, a very pregnant rural sheriff who acts as both the voice of reason and the unlikely looking force of justice.
The movie was a sleeper hit, earning $60 million at the box office on a $6 million budget, had a vibrant second life on home video and cable TV, and forged a place for the Minnesota accent in popular culture.
An attempt was made to do a Fargo TV series in 1996, resulting in a pilot for CBS starring Edie Falco as Sheriff Marge Gunderson that didn't sell but eventually did air as a special in 2003.
Polygram was eventually sold out from under itself by its parent company, electronics giant Phillips, and its library was sold to MGM, which brought us to our present situation.
Now that you know the history let's look at the PROS & CONS!!
1. THE COENS: The Freres Coen have a lot of cachet, and not just with Hollywood but with the audience. They've enjoyed both commercial and critical success, and make a point to not insult the intelligence or the existence of their audience.
Their involvement with this project gives it a certain seal of approval to those familiar with the successes like No Country For Old Men and True Grit.
2. THE PREMISE: Now there are two ways they could do the series.
A) A straight up procedural about Marge and her deputies solving crimes in her rural county like a female Columbo.
B) A structure more akin to the original movie which divides the episode between the criminals and their dramas of betrayal and revenge, counterpointed with Marge as a decent wife, mother, and relentless pursuer of criminals.
Either way could work, but the B would probably embody the spirit fans of the original are expecting.
1. THE ORIGINAL: People who liked the movie Fargo loved it, and there is the risk that they could judge the series harshly if it's not "blow you away" great.
2. THE QUIRK FACTOR: Hollywood is notoriously bad at doing anything about people who live outside Los Angeles, New York, and their associated trendy vacation spots. This land, which is known as Flyover Country is a land of mist and mystery to the people who work in the media. It's too often portrayed as a land populated by stereotypes who are too dim to realize that all the smart people live in Los Angeles and New York.
The common tactic is to try to make the small town characters cute and quirky, which can become really annoying really quickly, and potentially sink the show.
So let's hope that the show gets done right.