Mercado on TV: Star turns from Jon and Juno in Fargo, Heather Mitchell in Jones Family Christmas


A huge shout-out to Stan for continuing to make Aussie-themed Christmas movies

Fargo first hit cinemas in 1996 before the Coen brothers handed it over to director/writer Noah Hawley to turn into a TV series in 2014. He has done a truly excellent job ever since, with new series in 2015, 2017 and 2020. Now it’s back and better than ever.

Fargo (SBS On Demand) has always had great lead actors like Billy Bob Thornton and Allison Tolman (series 1), Kirsten Dunst and Jean Smart (series 2), Ewan McGregor playing twins (series 3) and Chris Rock (series 4).

Now for its fifth fast-tracked series, it’s the fabulous Juno Temple (Ted Lasso, The Offer) playing an “ordinary housewife” who turns into a “tiger”, and Jon Hamm, fresh from romancing Jennifer Aniston on Morning Wars, now playing a sheriff who struts around in the nude. 

The supporting cast is equally fabulous, with The Kids In The Hall’s Dave Foley playing a lawyer who wears a white eye patch, and then there’s Jennifer Jason Leigh drawling her way through the series as a Tallulah Bankhead-like bitch. 

Set in 2019, Fargo forbids “talk about politics at the dinner table”, but it’s clear the show wants to make a statement about Trump and the type of people (particularly “freedom fighters”) who vote for him. Just check out that Christmas family photo with everyone holding machine guns as a “sign of strength”.

To be honest, I lost track of Fargo halfway through Ewan McGregor’s season and am yet to watch the Chris Rock one. Given how fantastic this latest series is, I may now have to re-investigate. Fargo – five stars.

Now, a huge shout-out to Stan for continuing to make Aussie-themed Christmas movies. Following on from A Sunburnt Christmas (2020) and Christmas On The Farm (2022), now comes Jones Family Christmas.

Christmas movies are inherently cheesy, whether they’re set in snowy settings or on outback farms. What makes this one work so well is having Heather Mitchell as the matriarch, and a beautiful sibling relationship between Alex (Max McKenna) and Christine (Ella Scott Lynch) (who may work so well together because both actors just starred While The Men Are Away on SBS). 

The supporting cast is excellent too, with a book club comprising of Bev Killick, Marg Downey, Tanya Hennessy, Fiona Choi and Jimmy Rees! Sign me up to that group immediately. 

One of the best local podcasts right now is Matthew Denby and Gavin Scott’s A Journey through SAW. Now comes an unmissable two-part doco about the music geniuses, Stock Aitken Waterman: Legends Of Pop (Tuesday on SBS).

In addition to Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Peter Waterman participating, there are also most of their big acts like Hazell Dean, Princess, Rick Astley, Sinitta, Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue. No Banarama though.

Read more Mercado on TV here.

Welcome to TV Gold: Mediaweek’s weekly TV podcast

Listen now on your favourite podcast platform for 30 minutes of TV reviews and recommendations every week from Mediaweek’s Mercado on TV columnist Andrew Mercado and editor-in-chief James Manning.
We want your comments, feedback and questions – [email protected].

This week: The Crown, Fargo, A Murder at the End of the World, Jones Family Christmas, Signora Volpe

This week we examine the first four episodes of the final season of The Crown (Netflix, series). It’s all about Diana and Dodi, but there’s much more too as Queen Elizabeth and (then) Prince Charles are called on by their country. Other new shows this week reviewed are Fargo (SBS, series), A Murder at the End of the World (Disney+), Jones Family Christmas (Stan, movie) and Signora Volpe (UKTV).

Listen online here, or on your favourite podcast platform.

Elizabeth Debicki as Diana in The Crown

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