Even if anthologies are trending, its still jarring for a network to take a show that won three Emmys (including best miniseries), two Golden Globes and a Peabody and say, Lets do it again, except change everything.
FX president John Landgraf understands the potential pitfalls. You risk taking this incredible win that you had, and turning it into an embarrassing failure, he says. The deciding factor was Hawleys pitch, and putting faith in a showrunner who underwent the Hollywood version of trial by fire. My biggest concern in making Fargo the first time was the bar that had been set by the movie. On some level, it almost seemed like a suicide mission. I have a lot of confidence in Noah now from having done that.
There was a contingency plan in place co-stars Allison Tolman and Colin Hanks had deals with options to return for a second season but Hawley pitched Fargo 2.0 as a prequel. The narrative travels back to 1979 when Tolmans Molly was just a preteen, and transforms her father, Lou (played by Keith Carradine last year and Patrick Wilson this year), into the series leading man
Another thing that changed in season two: the sprawling narrative which Hawley admits is a much bigger story with a lot more moving pieces than season one was continually massaged and rejiggered, right up until the last minute.
The great thing about making an ensemble show is it becomes modular, Hawley says. It might work on the page to cut from one scene to another, but on the screen, its more powerful to take that second scene and move it first or move it later.
Case in point: To build suspense for a key storyline in the premiere, Dunst and Plemons characters first appear much later than scripted, while the introduction of Smarts extended clan of criminals was moved up from a later episode to better emphasize their importance, requiring a few extra scenes to be shot deep into production.
Its a relentlessly challenging process, Landgraf says. Ive watched every cut of every one of these episodes usually three or four times because theres so much adjustment and experimentation going on. If it feels simple and seamless on some level to the audience, thats really the triumph of what Noahs achieved. The layering of work it takes to get there is pretty remarkable.
I'm done with the S2 OT, and I'll post it next week when I have a chance. I'm not going to be around much for the next couple of weeks, so if people can pitch in to bump the thread on the premiere date, post reviews, etc... I'd very much appreciate it. Sounds like another great season based on the early reviews.