New season of Fargo is interesting, but ambition may be its downfall

There was plenty of anticipation ahead of the launch of the fourth season of critically acclaimed anthology series Fargo, which kicked off on SBS this month. But new episodes of a popular series always come with the risk of expectations not being met.

For Green Guide and The Guide critic Debi Enker, a fan of the show, it's fallen a little flat.

While the show itself has some faults, Jason Schwartzman is excellent as Josto Fadda in season four of Fargo.

"I loved the first three seasons, and I was interested to see what would happen next," she tells S editor Louise Rugendyke and Spectrum deputy editor Kylie Northover on this week's episode of The Televisionaries.

"I must say, I've watched three episodes, and I'm not as immediately captivated by it. It's interesting and it's ambitious … I'm just finding it a bit heavy-going as I go on with it."

Each season of Fargo stands on its own, with only slight overlapping details connecting the episodes.

In season four, it's 1950 and two crime gangs are rumbling for control over various parts of Kansas City. Chris Rock plays Loy Cannon, who leads one gang, while Jason Schwartzman's Josto Fadda heads up the rivals. It's dense and has a lot of dialogue, though narration by 16-year-old character Ethelrida Smutny (E'myri Crutchfield) helps things along. Still, it comes off as heavy-handed.

"It doesn't feel very Fargo," Northover says, comparing it to the Coen brothers' 1996 film of the same name, which inspired the series. "It's all a bit confusing so far. I want to like it. I really want to like it — it looks incredible. But it is dense."

Rugendyke says from one perspective, it's a story about outsiders and what it takes to be an American but agrees that it is "so dense", with a little too much packed into the episodes.

In the show's defence, the experts say, it does have excellent dialogue, funny moments and great actors, with performances by both Rock and Schwartzman being noteworthy.

Using Fargo as the jump-off point, Rugendyke, Enker and Northover move onto a discussion about whether it's ever too late to go back and start a series you may have missed (Game of Thrones or The West Wing, anyone?). They also share which shows they're watching, and take a look back at iconic war dramedy M.A.S.H.

Listen to the latest episode now and subscribe wherever you get your favourite podcasts.

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