Tune in Tonight: ‘Fargo’ returns with bite and laughs

“Fargo” (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA) returns for its fifth season since 2014. Each season has been a variation on the original 1996 Coen Brothers film, and each has been different. The first season astounded viewers and assured critics that the decision to adopt an Oscar-winning classic was not a desecration, but inspired.

In many ways, season five hews closest to the original film but modulates the emphasis on particular characters. In the movie, Jerry Lundegaard’s (William H. Macy) kidnapped wife (Kristin Rudrud) is a mere plot device, a cipher who barely speaks.

In this season, Dorothy “Dot” Lyon (Juno Temple) is the subject of abduction and the driving force of the drama. Although she presents herself as a mild-mannered housewife, she is soon seen outwitting her potential kidnappers with stunning inventiveness, using common household objects with lethal force like some fearful MacGyver. It’s not giving too much away to reveal that one of her pursuers refers to her as a “tigress.”

Dot is clearly keeping secrets best not revealed here.

Other characters include North Dakota sheriff Roy Tillman (Jon Hamm), who uses his authority to cobble together a cultlike militia, basing his authority on Bible verses and a self-serving interpretation of Constitutional law.

Dot’s weak husband, Wayne (David Rysdahl), can’t keep himself clear of his mother’s money and apron strings. That mother, Lorraine Lyon, is portrayed with gusto by Jennifer Jason Leigh. America’s “queen of debt,” she has amassed a fortune sending hospital patients into bankruptcy. She has no patience for the weak. Look for Dave Foley as Danish Graves, her legal adviser.

The sprawling case earns the attention of Minnesota police deputy Indira Olmstead (Richa Moorjani). While her conversation is filled with as many “You betchas” as Marge Gunderson’s (Frances McDormand) in the original film, her background is Native American, and that leads many to underestimate her. In the movie, the diligent sheriff was married to Norm (John Caroll Lynch), a mild-mannered illustrator happy when his ducks were turned into postage stamps. Here, Indira’s husband runs up crippling credit card debt pursuing his pipe dream of a professional golf career and complaining when she doesn’t have dinner ready for him.

The first “Fargo” installment since 2019, the series has lost none of its edge or its startling blend of dark comedy and extreme, slapstick violence. Playing with notions of authoritarian sheriffs, backwoods militias and a deranged, cruel and extreme version of free enterprise, this season of “Fargo” may be the most political yet.

But then again, these are extreme times.

— “Hard Knocks” (9 p.m., HBO, TV-MA) begins a new season some eight games into the NFL schedule, documenting the Miami Dolphins, currently on top of the AFC East.

— On a similar note, Prime Video streams the 2023 documentary “Bye Bye Barry,” about NFL star Barry Sanders’ decision to leave the game at the peak of his career.

— The PBS All Arts App begins streaming “Manhattan Theater Club,” a venue for interviews with Broadway performers including Sarah Jessica Parker, Christine Baranski, Andre De Shields, Laura Linney and Sam Waterston.

— As noted yesterday, Hulu imports the Irish comedy “Obituary,” about a gloomy scribe (Siobhan Cullen) who uses homicide to pad her freelance income.


— Snake venom claims a Naval officer on “NCIS: Sydney” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

— Billie Jean King leads a discussion on sports pioneers on “Groundbreakers” (8 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings).

— An agent beguiles a spy on “FBI True” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

— A homeless man goes missing on “Found” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

— “Frontline” (10 p.m., PBS, check local listings) presents “20 Days in Mariupol,” a first-person account of the Russian siege of Mariupol, Ukraine, from two AP reporters on the ground who chronicled nearly three weeks of atrocities as well as their own harrowing escape.


A recently released con (James Caan) searches for hidden loot in the 1973 comedy “Slither” (6:15 p.m., TCM, TV-14), co-starring Peter Boyle, Sally Kellerman and Louise Lasser.


Playoffs arrive on “The Voice” (8 p.m., r, and 9 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) … “Name That Tune” (8 p.m., Fox, r, TV-PG) … The six remaining participants perform to the music of Taylor Swift on “Dancing With the Stars” (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) … “Raid the Cage” (9 p.m., CBS, TV-PG). … Paul helps clear Kendra on “9-1-1: Lone Star” (9 p.m., Fox, r, TV-14) … “Press Your Luck” (10 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).


Jimmy Fallon welcomes Tim Allen, Jenna Lyons and Derrick Stroup on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) … Gayle King and Brian Cox visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC).