Fargo: The Complete First Season review

Chilly thrills abound in this hypnotic TV take on the Coen brothers' celebrated crime film

Considering that Joel and Ethan Coen's quirky crime caper Fargo remains one of the best-loved movies of the 1990s, it's understandable that many were wary of this belated televisual take on the material.

There was no need to worry, though – this darkly comic 10-part series stands on its own two feet as a respectful homage to the Coens' work, yet also ranks right up there with HBO's True Detective as one of 2014's best new shows. Indeed, even if you're not a huge fan of the original flick, it would be criminal not to give this superior series a spin. It won't be long before you're hooked.

Picture: Fargo apes the work of the Coens in many ways – not least in striving to replicate an authentically film-like aesthetic. The upshot of this is that however crisp and clinical the footage may have been originally, it has been subjected to all manner of tweaks and alterations during post-production. The most obvious sign of this is the large amount of grain in the AVC 1.78:1 1080p encodes, which approaches the density of 16mm film stock in some sequences.

Understandably, colours veer towards the cooler end of the spectrum for exteriors, while interiors opt for a slightly warmer palette of browns and pastel hues, matched with deep blacks. And despite all of the digital manipulation the imagery has been subjected to, detailing remains well resolved, with plenty of intricate textures evident in close-ups and medium-shots.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: As you'd expect, Fargo arrives on Blu-ray sporting the obligatory DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mixes. The thing is, for all of its cinematic pretensions, FX's show doesn't boast the most dynamic sound design you'll ever hear.

Atmosphere takes priority over action, with use of the surround channels essentially limited to giving the score a more expansive space to fill. Every now and again it does proffer something a little more involving, such as the punch of bass that accompanies each burst of gunfire at the start of the police raid in Episode Six, and the blizzard shootout that closes that instalment.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: Series creator and writer Noah Hawley teams up with actor Billy Bob Thornton for two episode commentaries (The Crocodile's Dilemma and Eating the Blame) and actress Allison Tolman for a third (The Heap). While the first two are quite low-key affairs, Tolman brings a welcome burst of energy to the other.

This is a True Story (28 minutes) is a two-part overview of the making of the show, with particular emphasis on capturing the look and feel of a Coen Brothers production on TV (and pointing out plenty of Easter Eggs for fans).

Greetings from Bemidji (17 minutes) and Shades of Green (15 minutes) both focus on the cast and characters, with the latter specifically dealing with the bad guys. Also included are five deleted scenes.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: One of the year’s best new shows benefits from solid AV and interesting extras on Blu-ray

Fargo: The Complete First Season, 20th Century Fox, All-region BD, £35 Approx