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How Did 'Fargo' Finally Finish Shooting Season 4?
September 27, 2020  | By Mike Hughes  | 2 comments

The world seemed to conspire against there ever being another Fargo miniseries.

The first three – spread over four years – drew waves of praise. There were 53 Emmy nominations, a Peabody Award, and lots of Hollywood admirers. "I thought it was easily the best thing on television," Chris Rock (top) told the Television Critics Association (TCA).

But there was a three-year delay, while writer-producer Noah Hawley was busy making Legion.

He finally started a fourth Fargo, to debut this April 19, with Rock starring. Actors gushed, critics praised, and then, with three episodes left to shoot, there was the COVID shutdown.

"It was definitely frustrating…because you feel like you're on a roll," Rock told the TCA this month, but the break let him recharge.

Now – five months later than expected – Fargo is here and as quirky as ever. Originally, one episode was scheduled to air Sunday (Sept. 27), but the plan was changed to two supersized episodes; nine more will follow.

There are no rules for Fargo stories. They aren't tied to a place (including Fargo) or an era.

This time, Hawley told the TCA in January, he started with a concept. "For me, the history of America is the history of the entrepreneur. It's the history of someone who starts with nothing."

So he set it in Kansas City, flashing back as different ethnic groups – Irish, Jewish, Black – vied for control. Then he settled into 1950, with Rock leading the Black mob.

And he came up with an odd notion: Each leader has one son living with the other side, in a futile effort to preserve peace. "It's a conceit that I invented…but I believe it's plausible," he said in January.

It also creates odd combinations. This may be the first show to have a Rabbi Milligan.

Then again, it also has a Doctor Senator, who is neither a doctor nor a senator. And a token Minnesotan, Oraetta Mayflower, a scheming nurse who talks in that broad accent Fargo fans savor.

The first Fargo miniseries gave that accent to Allison Tolman, an actress from Texas; this one chose Jessie Buckley who's from Ireland. "I love doing accents…. I don't think I've ever used my own accent," she said this month. "For me, an accent is like music."

That fits, because she started as a singer. Buckley entered a British reality show with the winner playing the female lead in an Oliver remake; she was runner-up, landed other stage roles, drew praise starring as a singer in the indie movie Wild Rose, and suddenly was getting serious roles in ChernobylWoman in White, and more.

Now she's one of many outsiders stepping into Fargo roles. "The character I play is kind of an outsider anyway," Ben Whishaw said of Rabbi Milligan. So I could relate to that."

He's a gifted Shakespearean actor who had drawn praise in artful projects. "No one had ever seen me in anything," he said, until he became Q in the James Bond films.

Now he's part of an odd contingent. "The characters are as mad as each other," Buckley said. They wear the look of 1950 Kansas City. "When we walk out there onto the set, there's always a smile in everyone's eye, that we are in these clothes," Jason Schwartzman said in January.

Then the smiles faded. Fargo was the first major show to announce a COVID delay, but one of the first to resume shooting. "We knew we were kind of the tip of the spear," producer Warren Littlefield said this month. "There weren't a lot of shows across the planet that had gone back into production."

But it worked. Despite conspiring fates, Fargo is back.

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Jun 25, 2023   |  Reply
Sean Dougherty
The conceit about children living with their parents' enemies must be pretty familiar to a director who does comic book adaptations - it was how Jack Kirby's New Gods kept the peace until Mr. Miracle escaped from Apokolips.
Sep 27, 2020   |  Reply
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