How far will they go?

If I had to list my favourite films, it’s almost certain that there would be several Coen Brothers offerings on the list.  For sure, both O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Fargo would appear very near the top of the list.

I discovered today that a spinoff TV series to Fargo has been made, sharing its name, Minnesota setting and more-or-less  black comedy crime drama style.

The first season was made, or at least broadcast last year, and was set about 8 years earlier (which puts it about 20 years after the film, which was released in 1996 but apparently set in 1987).  I gather there’s a small amount of overlap, including a scene where some of the characters from the series find the money that was hidden at the end of the film,  and probably quite a few references (also to the rest of the Coen Brothers’ oeuvre), but no direct cross-over between cast or characters.

The second season is due to be released next month (in the States) and will be set back in 1979.  Again, there’s due to be little direct cross-over with either the film or the first season but there will be some links.

Apparently several more seasons are planned and each one is due to be essentially self-contained, with its own time period, storyline and cast but some links to the other seasons and the film.  The Coen Brothers are, with several other people, executive producers for the show (at least for season 1) but don’t appear to have been directly involved in writing or directing it.

I haven’t yet seen the series, though I’m sure that’s only a matter of time.  I have mixed feelings about the idea but I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve actually seen it.



Even more delightful

A favourite book of mine for a long time has been The Box of Delights by John Masefield.

I first encountered this, along with his other book The Midnight Folk (to which BoD is a sequel) in the mid 1980s, at around the time an adaptation was shown on TV for Christmas.  I suspect, though I can’t entirely remember, that I saw the TV version first and then got the books shortly afterwards.  Certainly my copy has a photo from the TV series on the cover, along with a strapline saying “Now a major TV series”.

Over the years, I’ve read both books several times.  This Christmas I watched the TV series again (as my dad received a copy as a present) and this inspired me to dig out the books yet again – probably for the first time in 10 years or so.  When I did so, I realised that my copies (Fontana Lions editions) are actually abridged from the original stories.

I decided that I’d like, if possible, to read the unabridged versions and soon discovered that I could pick up e-book versions for my Kindle at quite reasonable prices, so I did so.

A quick comparison of the first few pages of the two texts indicates that the abridged version did indeed cut out quite a lot of the text of BoD (though rather less so of MF, which was evidently a much shorter book to start with; the Fontana Lions editions of both books are about the same length).  As far as I can remember (not having read the abridged one for quite sometime), it was mostly a matter of cutting out, or at least shortening, various descriptive passages and digressions, rather than losing any major scenes from the story.

I intend to keep my dead tree editions of the abridged stories as they are a souvenir of my childhood (as well as a good version to lend to any younger readers of my acquaintance who want to check the stories out) though when I reread the stories in future, as I doubtless will do, I’ll probably go for the full versions again.

By the way, I was quite favourably impressed by the TV version on my recent viewing.  Often, old TV series that are remembered with fondness can be quite disappointing when actually seen again.  This time, however, it seems to have aged well, not to mention being a fairly faithful (if slightly slimmed down) adaptation of the original story.  I suppose it does have an advantage that it’s set in the past (the 1930s to be more specific) rather than the present or the future and therefore doesn’t suffer from the problems of things like supposedly sophisticated computers running on magnetic tapes, with blocky graphics or even panels of flashing lightbulbs for an interface (one of my favourite unintentionally amusing features of classic Doctor Who, for example).  It’s not just that, though – the special effects were excellent for the time (and the doubtless tight budget they were working to), as was the general standard of the acting.  It was also nice to see Patrick Troughton in a role other than his famous Doctor Who one (and he’s a sufficiently good actor that I didn’t spend the whole – or indeed any – time getting distracted by the fact that I was watching the Doctor (and one of my favourites, at that)).