Tube Talk: Double duty reunions

By Paula Hendrickson
Television Columnist

If you tuned into the second season premiere of FX’s anthology series, Fargo, you probably noticed how well Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, A Gifted Man) filled the boots of Lou Solverson, circa 1979. You may recall, in season one—which took place in 2006—Lou was played by Keith Carradine (Madam Secretary, Deadwood), so those were some big boots to fill.

Notice anything else?

Like a mini Burn Notice reunion, perhaps?

Okay, so their characters didn’t meet, but they were in the same episode. Jeffrey Donovan (Michael Westen on Burn Notice) plays Dodd Gerhardt, the eldest son of the ailing mob boss, Otto (played by Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Hogan). And Donovan’s former co-star Bruce Campbell, who played Westen’s friend and colleague Sam Axe on Burn Notice, appeared in Fargo’s first episode as presidential hopeful Ronald Reagan.

(Of course, during our last presidential election, the candidate I would have pegged Campbell to play was Mitt Romney.)

One of the coolest parts about this season of Fargo? Some of the characters are so strong you can’t always place the actors portraying them. Especially Jean Smart (Designing Women, 24) as Dodd’s mother Floyd Gerhardt, and Ted Danson (Cheers, CSI) as sheriff Hank Larsson. Seriously, it wasn’t until the end of the first episode that I realized it was Ted Danson under Hank’s sheriff’s hat and beard. I did notice Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) as a townsman, despite the lack of his Ron Swanson mustache.

Because Fargo is an anthology series, even the busiest of actors are willing to commit to do a few episodes or even an entire season. That’s why after CSI ended, Danson was able to move over to CSI: Cyber and still have time to work on Fargo. Likewise, Campbell was able to play Ronald Reagan while also reprising his classic role as Ash from the cult horror Evil Dead franchise in a new 10-part series for Starz. Appropriately enough, Ash vs. Evil Dead, premieres on Halloween.

In addition to starring in the series, Campbell also serves as an executive producer with his old pal Sam Raimi (The Grudge), who wrote and directed the original 1979 low-budget film, The Evil Dead. Hopes are high for the revival of Campbell’s most iconic character—complete with a chainsaw where his right hand used to be—especially given Starz’s commitment to producing high-quality original series.

To bring this column full circle I should point out that Ash vs. Evil Dead also reunites Campbell with a former co-star. This time it’s Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess, Salem), from the popular Xena and Hercules franchises of the 1990s.

Of course, given Fargo’s expansive cast, I’d bet Campbell and Donovan weren’t the only former cast members sharing the bill once again.

Programming Notes

Fargo airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on FX

Ash vs. Evil Dead premieres Saturday, October 31 at 8 p.m. on Starz

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