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What to watch Wednesday: New ‘Fargo’ is deeply, darkly funny

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- Matthias Clamer/FX
Martin Freeman plays Lester Nygaard in the new FX drama “Fargo.”

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Fargo (10pm, FX) - I can’t say enough about this new 10-episode “limited series” – a wonderful play on the 1996 Coen brothers film. This incarnation features entirely different characters and stories that are still similar enough to the beloved original in style and tone to safely be considered a faithful homage.

And while you may find yourself initially missing Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi and William H. Macy, you won’t for too long. All of the performances here, from Billy Bob Thornton to Martin Freeman to Colin Hanks to newcomer Allison Tolman, are strong enough to almost make you forget the original altogether (especially if it’s been way too long since your last viewing, as is the case with me).

This “Fargo” follows a deeply psychotic, manipulative hitman (Thornton) as he wreaks havoc on the lives of people in the small towns of Bemidji and Duluth, in Minnesota. Those unfortunate enough to cross his path include – but are in no way limited to – an insurance salesman (Freeman) and a cautious young deputy (Hanks). The rest of the exceptional cast include Bob Odenkirk, Oliver Platt, Kate Walsh, Keith Carradine, Adam Goldberg and in later episodes, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele.

Also on tonight . . .

Pioneers of Television (8pm, UNC-TV) - The fourth season premiere looks at stand-up comics who transitioned to sitcoms. You’ll hear from Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Barr, Ray Romano, Tim Allen and Bob Newhart.

The Address (9pm, UNC-TV) - A Ken Burns documentary about a small school in Putney, Vt., where students memorize, practice and recite Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address every year.

About a Boy (9pm, NBC) - Fiona oversees a project for Marcus’ class, and later, Marcus goes on a shopping spree with Will (don’t replace the cardigans, Marcus!).

The Mindy Project (9:30pm, Fox) - Mindy tests Peter’s advice to think like a man at a bar, where she meets a first-grade teacher who’s got a way with words.

Person of Interest (10pm, CBS) - Reese goes undercover as a Secret Service agent in order to protect a U.S. congressman who may play a pivotal role in the plan to bring down Decima’s second Machine.

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