Fargo: Year Two Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts reviews season two of this compelling and well written mini-series. Set in 1979, this all-new “true crime” saga kicks off with violent foul play at a South Dakota Waffle Hut. In a flash, the case ensnares a small-town beautician, a Minnesota state trooper and a local sheriff – all set against the backdrop of an explosive Midwestern mob war.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

86

Details:

Studio and Year: Twentieth Century Fox – 2015
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Feature running time: 572 minutes
Genre: TV Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Ted Danson, Kirsten Dunst, Brad Garrett, Jean Smart, Jesse Plemons, Jeffrey Donovan, Bokeem Woodbine, Kieran Culkin, Nick Offerman, Zahn McClarnon, Keir O’Donnell
Directed by: Various
Music by: Jeff Russo
Written by:Noah Hawley
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date:

“Aw jeez, here we go again…”

My Take:

The all new “true crime” case in Fargo’s latest chapter takes you back to 1979 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Luverne, Minnesota. “Lou Solverson” (Patrick Wilson), a young State Police Officer recently back from Vietnam, investigates a case involving a local crime gang, a major mob syndicate and a small town beautician “Peggy Blumquist” (Kirsten Dunst) along with her husband “Ed” (Jesse Plemons), the local butcher’s assistant. Helping Lou piece things together is his father-in-law, “Sheriff Hank Larsson” (Ted Danson). The investigation will lead them to a colorful cast of characters that includes “Karl Weathers” (Nick Offerman), the town lawyer of Luverne, Minnesota. A Korean War vet, Karl is a flowery drunk blessed with the gift of gab and the eloquence of a true con artist. Three-time Emmy® winner Brad Garrett plays “Joe Bulo,” the front man for the northern expansion of a Kansas City crime syndicate. The new face of corporate crime, Joe’s bringing a Walmart mentality to small town America.

His number two is “Mike Milligan” (Bokeem Woodbine). Part enforcer, part detective, Mike is always smiling – but the joke is usually on you. Bulo and his crew have their sights set on the Gerhardt crime family in Fargo, currently led by matriarch “Floyd Gerhardt” (Jean Smart). With her husband at death’s door, Floyd takes over the family business, frustrating her eldest son, “Dodd Gerhardt” (Jeffrey Donovan). An impatient hothead with a cruel streak to match his ambitions, Dodd can’t wait for both his parents to die so he can take over and expand their business from kingdom to empire. “Bear Gerhardt” (Angus Sampson) is the middle son, an intimidatingly large man who, although inarticulate, is the most decent of his clan. “Rye Gerhardt” (Kieran Culkin), the youngest of the Gerhardt clan, views himself as a big shot, but in reality he’s just a small dog with a loud bark.

Let me begin by saying that I LOVE the Cohen Brothers film Fargo, and when I saw that a TV series based on the that film’s concept was being made I was immediately interested. My wife and I watched season one of Fargo and enjoyed every minute. Everything from the pacing, character design, and thematic context worked. We really like the idea of bringing in a new cast and new story each season. The trailer for season two had us intrigued so we eagerly awaited its premiere on the FX Channel. Set in 1979, Fargo Year Two has ties to Season one, specifically to Lou Solverson (the father of Police Officer Molly Solverson in S1), telling of the dark events that took place when he was a young Minnesota State Trooper.

As with season one, the writing is simply terrific, breathing life into not only the period but a cache of amazing characters supported by a shifting narrative that begins with a seemingly innocuous crime that ignites a powder keg. The evolution of the storyline is probably the most compelling aspect of the season. What starts out as one thing escalates, spiraling into a series of events resulting in violence and bloodshed that leave a pile of dead in its wake. At the center of it are a couple, with a role to play, that absolutely no one would expected. There is suspense, terrific interplay among the characters at all levels, and biting thematic edge the underscores the proceedings right through to the finale.

The story’s time period specific backdrop serves as an additional character with an integral subtext that adds an enriching and genuine element that can’t be understated. I can’t say enough about the cast, as a whole, simply outstanding. I thoroughly enjoyed Fargo Year Two. It’s intelligently crafted, superbly produced and supported by terrific acting performances by its ensemble cast. I can’t wait to see what comes next..

Season Two’s 10 episodes are spread over three BD-50 Blu-ray Discs that come housed in a standard amaray style case with slipcover that contains a flip type insert to hold the discs.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for pervasive violence, sexuality, disturbing images, drug content and thematic material.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 84
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element):

Video: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

Fargo Year Two comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 20 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.5 Mbps.

This is a solid video presentation that offers excellent refinement during close ups and discernibly crisp definition within objects during mid-level camera pans. The color range perfectly sets the series thematic tone and has a reserved aesthetic that rarely offers bright, eye catching hues. Rendering is clean and depth is appropriate. Fleshtones keep pace with the look of the rest of the show’s elements and have a balmy but natural texture. Spot on contrast yielded crisp, bright whites and blacks are stable but slightly elevated which leaves them appearing less dynamic and occasionally flat. I didn’t see this as a problem based upon the visual style of the show. This is a pristine encoding that showed no obvious signs of video related artifacts or anomalies.

The DTS-HD MA soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue, robust dynamics and a subtle, yet enriching surround sound mix. I was pleased with its use of spatial dimension and directional cues to create an apropos and occasionally immersive sound field. This worked hand in hand with show’s music, and active sequences to build tension and drive its thematic elements. I thought it sounded quite good.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) Skip Sprang TV Commercial
  • (HD) The Films of Ronald Reagan: Audio Commentary by Bruce Campbell – 8 minutes
  • (HD) Waffles and Bulletholes: A Return to Sioux Falls – 2 part making of documentary (Totaling 44 minutes)
  • (HD) Lou on Lou: A Conversation with Noah Hawley, Keith Carradine and Patrick Wilson – 15 minutes
  • (HD) The History of True Crime in the Mid-West – 3 minute featurette

Final Thoughts:

Fargo Year Two builds upon the success of the show’s first season and proves to be a compelling and thoroughly entertaining series. It comes to Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring faithful high definition video, crystal clear lossless sound and a complimentary supplemental package that is worth exploring. I am a big fan of Fargo and eagerly await its next season. In the meantime fans that enjoy revisiting it can do so with this 3 disc Blu-ray offering.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS PC12-NSD
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package