TV

CW gets wacky with “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend;’ ‘Fargo’ ‘Kingdom’ start news seasons

Rachel Bloom and Santino Fontana star in “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”
Rachel Bloom and Santino Fontana star in “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” CW

This week, the CW Network goes a little insane with the new comedy/drama/musical “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” while the second season of “Fargo” launches. DirecTV also begins the second season of “Kingdom.”

Getting ‘Crazy’

Rachel Bloom’s face is familiar to anyone who prowls the Internet looking for offbeat music videos. Among her online claims to fame is a short production number where she gets personal about Ray Bradbury.

Now, Bloom is trying to conquer network television with the singing, dancing, lusting, laughing “Crazy Ex-Girlfreind.” The move to network TV is still so unbelievable Bloom thinks it’s all a prank by middle school bullies.

That’s “Crazy” talk. She really is starring in a network show about a New Yorker who moves to West Covina to follow a man she likes.

There’s no reason for Southern Californians to get upset. Bloom’s not making fun of West Covina directly, but she has fashioned the show as an homage.

“I grew up in Southern California. I have a complicated relationship with it as anyone does with their hometown. The town is a whole part of Southern California, and I think there’s a sunniness to Southern California that’s fascinating,” Bloom says. “We are going to be exploring it in a very layered, nuanced way that’s not just poking fun.

“A lot of the inspiration for it was that Rebecca is this neurotic, anxiety-ridden, kind of Woody Allenesque persona going into Southern California where it’s almost like depression is against the law. At least that’s how I felt when I was growing up here and not always in a bad way. There’s a simple happiness growing up in the sunshine.”

Change is good

“Fargo” returns for a second season, sporting a new cast that includes Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson, Jesse Plemons, Jean Smart, Ted Danson and Cristin Milioti.

It was no problem for Dunst to slip into the unique world of “Fargo.”

“It’s funny because a lot of my family is from Minnesota, and we still have one of the oldest farms in the United States. And so half of my background are those people. And my grandma, who is not with us anymore, she lived with us forever. And she was born and bred in Minnesota,” Dunst says. “So it’s, kind of, within my wheelhouse already, and so it was very familiar to me to step into that accent and that, kind of, like, you know, Lutheran, you know, keep your chin up and smile even though all this other stuff is happening, to keep up a good face.”

Dunst plays Peggy Blomquist, a small-town beautician who knows she’s destined for bigger things. She will have to go against her husband’s (Plemons) traditional thinking to achieve her goals. She gets involved in a case involving a local crime gang and a major mob syndicate.

Plemons is a Texas native who found trying to match the regional dialect a challenge.

“Luckily, we had a great dialect coach, and it’s all already in the writing. So, I mean, you get a really good sense of who these people are just reading the scripts,” Plemons says. “I feel like I came from a small town in Texas, like 2,000 people, and it’s definitely different, but I don’t know there’s an isolation to any small town, really, and like Kirsten said, a need to keep your chin up and put a smile on your face and just work hard and accomplish what you want in life.”

Hard knocks

“Kingdom” is a family saga that takes place in Venice, Calif., and is set against the backdrop of the renegade subculture of Mixed Martial Arts.

The next 20 episodes will continue to focus on the characters portrayed by Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez, Matt Lauria, Jonathan Tucker, Nick Jonas and Joanna Going.

Not only is there a natural competition on the set to turn in the best performance, but because of the fight world in which the show is set, the actors often compete with each other on a physical level.

“I think the treasure of the show is how demanding it is. The writing demands so much of you. The characters are just really these intense psychological creatures. And you can’t phone it in,” Lauria says. “And then the physical demands are obvious too. So yeah, it’s a full-time job. Except for the maybe six hours that you’re sleeping or whatever, it’s at least for me, it’s a pretty all-consuming thing.”

Rick Bentley: 559-441-6355, @RickBentley1

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

  • 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12, CW Network

Fargo

  • 10 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12, FX

Kingdom

  • 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, DirecTV
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