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'Fargo' Serves Up Double Dose Of Ewan McGregor In Season 3

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'Fargo' Serves Up Double Dose Of Ewan McGregor In Season 3

Television

'Fargo' Serves Up Double Dose Of Ewan McGregor In Season 3

'Fargo' Serves Up Double Dose Of Ewan McGregor In Season 3

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/524751585/524751586" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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The critically acclaimed anthology show, Fargo, returns to FX for its third season on Wednesday night. This season stars Ewan McGregor playing two brothers.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The third season of the hit TV drama "Fargo" begins tonight. And with it comes a challenge - maintaining high quality with new stories and new characters. Based on the first two episodes, NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says "Fargo" delivers.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: On any other show, this would be the worst kind of gimmick. But FX's "Fargo" somehow pulls off casting Ewan McGregor in two parts, as successful real estate mogul Emmit Stussy...

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FARGO")

EWAN MCGREGOR: (As Emmit Stussy) That was a Corvette.

DEGGANS: ...Speaking to his bitter, follically-challenged loser of a younger brother, Ray Stussy.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FARGO")

MCGREGOR: (As Ray Stussy) It's a car.

DEGGANS: When Ray argues with Emmit while asking him for money, it's easy to forget there's just one actor playing both men.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FARGO")

MCGREGOR: (As Ray Stussy) Look, I'm getting engaged.

(As Emmit Stussy) Again?

(As Ray Stussy) Don't say that.

(As Emmit Stussy) I'm sorry.

(As Ray Stussy) I just - I want to buy her a ring. And the way I figure it is you still owe me for my...

(As Emmit Stussy) I owe you from what happened when we were kids?

DEGGANS: This is one of the quirky quality moves cooked up by Noah Hawley, the creator of FX's version of "Fargo" and one of TV's most creative minds. He gives Emmit, the successful brother, a sticky problem. He borrowed $1 million from a company he didn't know, and when he tried to pay it back a slippery thug named V.M. Varga showed up, played with dirty teeth and skeevy charm by David Thewlis.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FARGO")

DAVID THEWLIS: (As V.M. Varga) You had a problem, as you said, last year, so you tried the normal channels, the banks. But your company's still failing, so you come to us.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) For a loan.

THEWLIS: (As V.M. Varga) You never thought to ask why we might lend you $1 million with no collateral required.

DEGGANS: That's right, he didn't. And when Varga makes it plain that Emmit's business will be forced to launder money, there's only one bit of encouragement left.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FARGO")

THEWLIS: (As V.M. Varga) Don't look so sad. By the time we're done you'll be billionaires - on paper, at least.

DEGGANS: For a third time, showrunner Noah Hawley has managed one of the trickiest feats in modern television. He's assembled a totally new story with a completely new array of oddball, often dim-witted criminal eccentrics, this time set in 2010.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOANIN'")

JON HENDRICKS: (Singing) Every evening find me moanin'.

ANNIE ROSS: (Singing) Yes, Lord.

DEGGANS: In one scene, a rendition of the jazz classic "Moanin'" backs a stylish yet depressing montage that shows Ray Stussy, a crooked parole officer, collecting urine samples from parolees. Later, a desperate Ray pressures a parolee who failed a drug test to steal something valuable from his brother.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FARGO")

MCGREGOR: (As Ray Stussy) A little robbing. Not wholesale burglary. Just a specific - just looking for a certain item. And if you do it, well, let's just say your little problem goes up in smoke.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) What are we talking about?

MCGREGOR: (As Ray Stussy) A stamp.

DEGGANS: Even the cops chasing these lawbreakers are a little odd, like smart old-school police officer Gloria Burgle, played by Carrie Coon, who you can also see in the final season of HBO's "The Leftovers." Burgle has mysterious problems with electronics. Automatic doors and cell phones don't work around her, and she struggles to explain it all to a new boss.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FARGO")

CARRIE COON: (As Gloria Burgle) The old way works just fine. Type out a report, send it via telex.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) You know what year it is - right? - the future. We don't use - who uses telexes anymore?

COON: (As Gloria Burgle) So that's why no one ever writes me back.

DEGGANS: Here Hawley has created a world where Fargo is a state of mind. It's a frosty Neverland that hides the flailing of desperate, dense criminals beneath a veneer of politeness and down-to-earth folksiness. Watching Hawley slowly shred that veneer to reveal the ugliness below just might be the most rewarding part of visiting this fictional slice of North Dakota for a third time. I'm Eric Deggans.

(SOUNDBITE OF JEFF RUSSO'S "BEMIDJI, MN - FARGO SERIES MAIN THEME")

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