Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Good TV is hard to come by

I don't watch a hell of a lot of television. Once a week I go over to my parents' house and I'll watch a show with them but other than that I just don't really do TV; in my opinion a TV is a convenient thing to watch movies on, not something that people generally make good shows for.

That's changed quite a bit recently - improved technology means that there are fewer limitations to TV than there used to be; huge screens and HD mean that audiences won't lose picture quality and so new shows have made a mind boggling jump in technical quality - hell, just look at the improvements in image quality over the course of the last twenty years:

Those are all stills from CBS sitcoms with similar budgets each ten years apart; when even the crappy, relatively cheap shows are seeing technical improvements like this it comes as no surprise that interesting, experimental ventures are improving in all areas.

Now, back to what I actually want to talk about, which is this gloriousness:

The FX run of Fargo is easily the best thing I've seen on television this decade and possibly ever (Twin Peaks doesn't count because I've only watched it on DVD). The show is beautiful, incredibly well written, and full of darkness and fascinating characters. I know people are all super stoked about Malvo, but I'm a much bigger fan of Lester and Molly. Lester's transformation from the pilot to the finale is really well done and actually made me a little scared of Martin Freeman - he's a terrifyingly good actor. And Molly. Oh, man, Molly. Allison Tolman is amazing and I want to be Molly when I grow up. She's SUCH a great character and avoids so many of the tropes associated with Strong Female Characters (she's not perfect, mind, but she's the best that's been put on TV for a long damn time). Molly is just so wonderful I want to hug her and watch her be a complete badass for hours on end.

The show is technically fantastic; there are beautiful shots full of beautiful light and balance, crisp, clean visuals all around. The music is brilliant and unsettling, the writing is sharp (if occasionally heavy-handed) and so gloomily funny that I spent at least a few minutes of each episode laughing at horrible murders.

Fargo is a great movie and Fargo the show lives up to the film. The run is over for the moment but I really recommend picking this up and watching it if you've got about ten hours to spare - it will be time well and easily spent.

     - Alli

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