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The Almighty Johnsons

01/02/2012. Contributed by Rod MacDonald

Buy The Almighty Johnsons in the USA - or Buy The Almighty Johnsons in the UK

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studio: South Pacific Pictures. Ten part TV Series. Presented on: Science Fiction Channel: Thursday 02 February 2012). cast: Emmett Skilton, Timothy Balme, Jared Turner, Ben Barrington and Dean O'Gorman.

This is a ten part series from New Zealand which first appeared on TV in that country about a year ago and will be shown on the Science Fiction Channel (Syfy) commencing at 10pm on Thursday 02 February 2012 on satellite and cable TV. The review package came with a nice booklet about the show plus the first episode on DVD. It has a fantasy theme with elements of comedy and it's probably geared towards a younger audience, perhaps older teen-agers and young adults.

So, what's it all about? Well, for some strange reason the Norse gods have been reincarnated in New Zealand in the 21st century. The reasoning behind this isn't clear but it's a good place as anywhere and it fits into the story quite well. There are four brothers, plus a grandfather who doesn't seem to be very old and also a mother who was transformed into a tree at some time in the past. That's why she doesn't appear in the series! This all sounds a bit complicated but in reality it's quite simple with clearly defined characters and straightforward plots.

Axl (actor Emmett Skilton) has just turned twenty-one. He is probably the focus of the show and the type of character at which it is aimed. Basically a young lad going about the town in search of a good time with no responsibilities, he receives a wake-up call on his birthday when the other brothers initiate him into Norse God mythology, only this mythology turns out to the seriously real. Is this a coming of age story? Perhaps not!

Despite there being lots of characters it doesn't take long before we become familiarised with them. The eldest brother, Mike (actor Timothy Balme), is quite sensible and responsible, almost a father figure, while Anders is a playboy type, out to make money and girls at every opportunity. Ty (actor Jared Turner) is rather quiet and doesn't come out of his shell while the grandfather, Olaf (actor Ben Barrington), is out of it on drugs most of the time despite the fact that he is ninety-five years old. They all have super-powers which do not work properly, super-powers which will only be reinstated when Odin, the chief Norse God, is completely reincarnated back on Earth. Axl is amazed to find that he is actually Odin but he will only be properly reincarnated when combined with his former wife, a woman called Frigg.

Out to do them mischief are four Norse goddesses who wish to stop this from happening. At every opportunity, they tried to kill Axl, using devious methods and sexual prowess. There are lots of attractive people, boobs and bums, fornication and industrial language. Basically, it is mediocre stuff, a jolly carry on without much substance but it is entertaining and can be viewed without straining the mental processes.

This probably will not be shown on BBC because in reality it's not good enough TV. It will definitely have a following of a certain category of the viewing public but I can't see this becoming a classic piece of television history in the future. While it is better than lots of similar American shows, it still doesn't stand out as being anything exceptional. It is trivial in nature and the action has no real consequence to anything. In fact, after watching that episode my opinion was that I wouldn't want to watch more of it in the future because it was essentially a waste of time.

Of course, I am not the intended destination for such a television series. Had this come to my attention some forty years ago I may have had a different opinion. Undoubtedly, there are lots of people out there who will relish this and want to watch it every week. There's talk that a second season will be produced so this will keep the addicts happy but, trying to leave my prejudices aside, as a piece of television this isn't very original and it has been done in similar ways many times before. It lacks depth and substance and will probably never make it beyond lightweight television. No doubt I will be struck down by a thunderbolt from Odin!

Rod MacDonald

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