Sep 28, 2013

The One Where The Almighty Johnsons Ascend To Asgard



For the past three years I've been enthralled by a New Zealand television series called "The Almighty Johnsons".  As someone who lives in America, I enjoy finding shows from all over the globe that interest me.  I've been fortunate to discover a lot of really cool shows over the years from outside of the country, whether it's Canada's "Durham County", "End Game" and "Little Mosque On The Prairie", to Australia's awesome action series "Rush", or the UK's "Hustle" and "Spooks".

Often I have to find ways to see these outside the mainstream, as these shows don't tend to air here in the states, although a few have recently started showing here including the delightful Little Mosque.

The Almighty Johnsons, is a show about four brothers who are reincarnated Norse Gods, with the youngest brother, Axel, being Odin.   The basic premise is that Odin needs to find his wife "Frigg" (The Goddess of Marriage), and if he dies before finding her and performing the ceremony, then all the Gods and all the humans will die.

For the last three seasons we've seen Axel get close, and there have been some red herrings thrown about as to who the Frigg would be revealed as.  I won't spoil that for those who are interested in catching the series.

There are certain shows that you watch and you get caught up in thanks to the great writing and acting in it.  Currently the best example of that is Breaking Bad which is about to air it's series finale this weekend.  It's kind of amazing to see the incredible reaction the show has gotten over the years, and how it's built to this crescendo as the finale episodes have aired.  It's truly like nothing I've seen before that I can recall.

MORE AFTER THE BREAK



Breaking Bad's success is owed to it's phenomenal writing and acting and how it really sucks you in and you are just enthralled by everything about it.   I feel that way about Almighty Johnsons, although the two are drastically different series in tone and style.

Where Breaking Bad is based (mostly) in reality, The Almighty Johnsons is more of a sci-fi fantasy type series dealing with Norse Gods being reincarnated.  Not exactly art imitating life.

That said, the show is brilliant all on it's own.  The cast is perfect pretty much all around.  Emmett Skilton who plays Axel Johnson (Odin) is fantastic in his role and his relationship with his mortal friend Zeb (Hayden Frost) is genuine and often times touching.  Despite the worlds difference between the two, they are still best buds no matter what.  It's been quite enjoyable watching the two interact and I think that is one of the things I'll miss the most, if the show indeed is done.

I think my favorite character on the show, however, is Shane Cortese as Colin aka Loki.  Cortese is, to borrow a phrase from the show, "A cock".  Aside from one specific character who really kind of goes full on asshole towards the end of Season 3 (vague enough?) Cortese has been the one character on the show who is completely devoid of morals, ethics and has fully embraced his inner bad guy.  While there are other characters who are perhaps lacking in the ethical department *Cough* Anders  *Cough*, Cortese' Loki is the one that has essentially said "Fuck it!" and is just really enjoying being "a cock."

And it's the most wonderfully uncomfortable enjoyment you will have.  I mean the guy is completely sexist, and a sociopath, and yet you just can't turn away.  Cortese plays the role to the hilt, and while I don't know what the equivalent in New Zealand is for The Emmys, I think Cortese should definitely have gotten a nomination or two, if not an outright win.

There's one scene in particular that comes to mind from, I believe, Season 2 that really puts into focus just how despicable he is, yet how charismatic he is.  At this point he and Michelle (Sjofn) played by the wonderful, brilliant and lovely Michelle Langstone, are still together, and he comes in after having (he thinks) killed one of the Johnson Brothers, and is demanding sex from Michelle.

And the way he does it is at the same time laughable and horrific in the way he speaks to her, and the completely misogynistic attitudes he has. And yet Cortese has a way of doing this that takes some of the truly rapey vibe off of it due to how unbelievably over the top ridiculous his words are.  I can't imagine many people who are able to do that.

I mean the slimeyness of just uttering the phrase "Wakey Wakey, Spread your Legs" just sets my teeth on edge and angers me, but his portrayal of the characters as this scenery chewing villain, I think, takes a slight edge off of it.  Especially with how Michelle stands up to him with the "I'm not your whore, Colin".  Which of course is exactly how he sees her.

As I said, he's a cock.  And a sexist sociopath.  And the most deliciously entertaining character to watch based solely on his unpredictable nature.

Coming into this season I wasn't sure if there would be a fourth, and as such I was nervous about how it would end.  I wanted there to be a solid ending.  There's not many shows that I can think of that really stuck the landing on the series finale of a lengthy series of 3 seasons or more.  "Lost", which I thoroughly enjoyed and I liked the ending, turned a lot of people off with the ending to it.  "Dexter" just completely shit the bed with it's bogus ending that they did (I was fine with it -- for the most part -- up until the final twist reveal), and I was kind of frustrated with the recent "Burn Notice" finale as well (which pulled a similar twist reveal at the end as "Dexter").

So on the heels of both the Dexter & Burn Notice finales, I was nervous about the finale of this, and whether or not it would follow in a long line of (hopefully not) Series finales.

Fortunately it was a perfect ending, if it is to be an ending.  The words I want to say and the words I can think of to say are drastically different, because there are so many things I wish I could articulate about how this finale made me feel, and yet I can't truly do so.  NOTE: from here on out I'm going to write as if this is the series finale, just for a lack of confusion sake, but I'm hoping it will be back.

 

I think out of all the finales I've seen, this one really nailed it more than any.  I mean every step of the way was crafted in a way that would wrap up the series if they in fact were cancelled.  There was confusion over whether or not there would be a Season 3, so I think if they had ended this on a big cliffhanger, that would have been a nutkick to the fans.  It would have been a betrayal, I think.

There is none of that, and what you have here is ...I know I keep saying it, but perfect.  That's the first word I thought of when I finished it.  It's perfection.  It balanced the right tone, it wrapped up important storylines, and it not only directed the storyline towards the end that was promised from the very 1st episode, but it also leaves it open for advancing for more seasons.  Although technically maybe that name needs to be changed now.   The Ordinary Johnsons? Ehhh.. That's why I'm not on the writing staff.

The show kind of hit all the buttons that I wanted.  It brought a satisfying conclusion to the Mike/Axel/Frigg storyline, while mending the feelings between the brothers.  Axel showed a incredible amount of humility and forgiveness in setting Frigg up with Mike after everything he had done.

The one last "Fuck you" to Colin from Mike regarding Colin burning down Mike's Bar was great.  The scene between Ty (Jared Turner) and Dawn (Fern Sutherland), good Lord....  I may have to rewatch it because for some reason something was stuck in my eye at the time and everything was kind of blurry and watery for some reason.  Not sure why.

That one the one aspect to the finale, I think, that had to end the way it did.  Those two HAD to be together, and it seemed that so much was standing in the way, and for them to not only get back together, but the way it unfolded, was just so sweet and wonderful and really, to borrow a word I've used too much, perfect.

And best of all, that last scene with Axel and Zeb was just everything.  It took me a few moments to realize the "Mystery renter" was Axel and Zeb just didn't remember him, but man that was a great little scene there, and it just kind of had that "awww" factor in there, because of what good friends they were.

Kind of an "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" thing where no matter what happens, even if memories are erased, true love and true friendship will force them back together.  Whether it's Axel and Zeb, or Ty and Dawn or any of the other relationships, it's that whole "if it's meant to be, it's meant to be" thing.

I've spent three seasons with the Johnson clan and while I would very much love a fourth season, I am grateful that this wonderful show has been given a beautiful and truly amazing finale.  So if the Almighty Johnsons has ascended to Asgard, at least they left us with a fitting and enjoyable end.  Much thanks to the cast + crew of The Almighty Johnsons, and hopefully I'll see you all again next year.


2 comments:

  1. I read this post a month or two after you wrote it, looked it up, saved it on my bookmark bar and ignored it. I obsess on things for a while then lose interest, ultimately coming back with time. A few weeks ago I picked back up Skyrim and with Vikings season 2 coming back on I got into the mood. Banged out all 3 seasons just shy of 2 weeks ago. Thank for posting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome, great to hear! Yeah I loved this show, and the ending was just perfect. It had such a great closure to it, while still leaving a sliver of story for a potential continuation (Loki perhaps still having his powers, as he threw that stone or whatever away as they left). Especially the Zeb & Axel scene with the Pizza. That was just great.

    So many shows really crap out on the finale, and this was just perfect.

    ReplyDelete

Feel free to leave a comment below. Any racist, homophobic or otherwise discriminatory type comments will be deleted. If it gets bad, I'll just turn on comment moderation again. You don't have to agree with my views, but as this is my blog, I will demand that you be respectful while disagreeing.