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The Almighty Johnsons series 1

October 9, 2013

The-Almighty-Johnsons-DVD-coverThe Norse gods are alive and well and living in New Zealand?  That is the premise of this New Zealand series that follows the lives of four brothers and their grandfather who are the mortal re-incarnations of Norse deities.  Alive and not so well might be a better description as the brothers get along about as well as four brothers can be expected to, especially given that their parents largely abandoned them as children.  Of course, their latent godhood status which include some unusual side effects don’t help this situation much either.

Our story opens on our main character Axl’s 21st birthday.  His brothers Mike, Anders, Ty and Olaf take him into the woods telling him that he is a god of some ilk.  They have him hold a sword into the air…naked.  Axl thinks it some sort of gag until lightning strikes the sword and Olaf tells him that he is the mortal incarnation of Odin, the all father.  His brothers are Ull (Mike) the god of games, Bragi (Anders) the god of poetry and picking up chicks, and Hod (Ty) the god of winter.  Olaf is Baldur and really Axl’s and his brother’s grandfather.  Since he doesn’t age, he maintains the ruse of being one of the brothers as well.  He is also an oracle but between being in his 90s and the drug and alcohol use that go along with his surfer lifestyle, his oracle skills aren’t exactly as sharp as they once were.  It is at this point that they inform Axl that, as Odin, it is his job to find the goddess Frigg.  If he finds and consummates a relationship with her, then all of them will get their full-on god powers as opposed to the weak watered down versions they all currently possess.  If he dies before finding Frigg then all of his brothers die too, so no pressure there.

From here the story focuses on Axl who lives with his two flat mates Gaia and Zeb.  One of the rules of godhood, Mike informs him, is that he is not allowed to talk about god stuff with mortals.  This isn’t so much a rule as just good advice because apparently bad things happen to mortals who know about the gods.  Gaia is clearly attracted to Axl and he to her as well which becomes one of the subplots of the series.  Anders takes Axl under his wing and begins an aggressive, if somewhat unsubtle, search for “the Frigg” as they call her.  The search is complicated by another group composed entirely of women who seem to have their own agenda when it comes to Norse gods stomping about New Zealand.  I’m going to stop with the details here to avoid giving away any more of the story.

The series follows the antics of the brothers as they try, in their various unique ways, to help Axl with his quest.  Of course, this brings them into a great deal more contact with one another making their sometimes already messy relationships with one another even more so.  While the show is a straight up drama series there is a comedic undertone to the proceedings as well.  I found the pacing of the series quite interesting and unique.  The first four episodes show us the brother’s lives and their normal relationships with one another.  Around the fifth episode the things begin to speed up as the story kicks in and the pace continues to increase up to the season finale.

The finale itself is quite the roller coaster ride.  Had I not been pressed for time, I actually would have broken my one episode per day rule as the penultimate episode left us with an ugly little cliffhanger.  I had unintentionally spoiled myself a bit when I accidentally saw a latter series cast photo and noticed something different about the actress playing Frigg but, even this did not stop me from being surprised by one of the plot twists in the finale.  I really felt for Axl here as he has a bit of personal tragedy with his life but, to be honest, it is something that will certainly be for his best in the long run given his overall situation.

About the only complaint that can be lodged against the first series is with the slow pacing of the early episodes.  People who need gun fights or car chases every episode may find the series tough going at first but, ultimately, the ride is worth it in the long run.  SyFy is supposed to be bringing this series to US televisions next year.  If this turns out to be the case, I would strongly recommend giving The Almighty Johnsons a look.

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