Monday, October 17, 2016

How often do you get to watch a TV sitcom where there's no laugh track? Rare right? Well this show, The Almighty Johnsons is such a show. The premise is about four brothers who live in New Zealand along with their "cousin" Olaf and all of them are reincarnations of Norse gods. The pilot starts off with the youngest brother's 21st birthday which is when the so-called 'god stuff' happens. What occurs is the individual is imbued with a god force and a random power(s). The youngest brother is Odin, the all father whose powers aren't apparent yet and since he is the youngest, no one takes his words seriously (other than perhaps cousin Olaf) whose job it is to find the love of his life, Frigga, and marry her which will do something to give all of them back their full god-hood status.

The oldest brother Mike is the god Ullr who in this world happens to be master of games and can never lose - even guessing games or rock-paper-scissors and he is a master hunter who always finds what he is hunting for. Then Tyson is the god Hod who happens to have a power to freeze things. Then there's Anders who is the god Bragi whose power of poetry can sway minds. Incidentally, cousin Olaf is actually the boy's grandfather who is the god Baldur and he is reborn every morning thus he ages extremely slowly. Olaf's power is that he is the family mystic seer or oracle and he does this by surfing and imbibing illegal substances.

Along the way in this show, you discover that the boys grew up in a village called "Norsewood" and lived at the corner of Odin and Viking streets. Their father was a mean mortal drunk and spousal abuser whose god is Njord whose power is he can calm any rough seas or ocean and if you're angry at him he has the ability to calm you down as well. The boy's mother is Freyja, a goddess of prosperity who amasses a half billion dollar empire for her boys and is banished to spend the rest of her mortal life as a tree.

The situations are funny and no this is NOT accurate according to the Norse sagas or myths because it is a TV show first and second these gods are incarnated into human bodies once their human host reaches the age of 21. Same with the goddesses and handmaidens of the gods. Ingrid is a goddess who is also an oracle is somewhat like grandpa Olaf but often much wiser in her own right. You also run into situations where there's a male god trapped in a female host but typically everyone gives Odin his due respect at least in word only if not action. Thor/Derek seems to the only exception since he willingly submits himself to 'Lord Odin' at every opportunity which is humorous in itself if not for the situations this often comes into play.

Idunna plays a major role in the show for a brief time as she is the giver of the apples of life which fits in with mythology. Thor often gets himself into trouble via his quick temper and desire to kill giants (yes there are some giants involved as well as dwarves and hopefully someday some trolls). Thor's hammer, Mjolnir is shown as a regular carpenter's hammer and it is accurate to kill bunny rabbits when he hauls off and angrily hurls it into the woods. He once hurls it at his gay neighbors and the hammer sticks in the boy's home until Odin removes it. Then the gay couple tell Odin that Thor can have it back IF he wears his wife's wedding gown to their wedding and apologizes for his behavior. [This is a play on the Norse myth where Loki stole Thor's hammer and it wound up in the possession of a giant who demanded to marry Freyja for Thor to get it back. Thor went undercover and wore Freyja's wedding dress with the concealing face veil and when the giant gave him his hammer thinking he was giving it to Freyja instead, Thor pulled back his concealing veil and slew the giant dead.]

Loki and Hella are involved though not heavily. Hel is there briefly for a while. Loki tends to hang around as he is a reoccurring menace to the brothers and his powers are fully developed since he is a god of fire. There are also a cult of hyper-religious god hunters who wish to rid the world of these "demons" as it were and the boys have to find an equitable way to stop them without outright killing them. Typically, humans are not allowed to know about any of the god's personas - except Zeb who happens to be Axl's childhood friend.

We also discover that there are other living gods around as well in New Zealand such as the Maori who desire Frigg to be their consort goddess. I find the show highly entertaining and fun to watch as each of these characters struggles to come to grips with their god, powers and their place in human society.