Norsemen: Netflix ~ Non-Spoiler Review

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Norsemen poster with title of show in runic style and Slije Torp (Freya) and Kåre Conradi (Orm)

🇳🇴 Norsemen🇳🇴

Norsemen (Vikingane) is a Norwegian comedy series on Netflix. Norsemen is filmed simultaneously in Norwegian and English, for domestic and international consumption. 3 seasons of 6 episodes X 30 minutes. Cert 15 U.K. (2016- )

”The residents of an 8th-century Viking village experience political rivalry, social change and innovations that upend their culture and way of life.”

Cast:

Kåre Conrade ~ Orm

Nils Jørgen Kaalstad ~ Arvid

Jon Ølgarden ~ Jarl Varg

Bjørn Myrene ~ Torstein Hund

Silje Torp ~ Freya

Trond Fausa ~ Rufus

Øystein Martinsen ~ Kark

Marian Saastad Ottesen ~ Hildur

Kristine Riis ~ Liv

Mikkel Bratt Silset ~ Ragnar

Erik Aleksander Schjerven ~ Magnus

Henrik Mestad ~ Chieftan Olaf

Image show cast of Norsemen in full costume


A (Mostly) Non-Spoiler Review:

When I first started watching Norsemen I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it, but then it rapidly dawned upon me that it is a parody of life during the Viking era and of various aspects of our own society. I think it may have been the leaping over the cliff existential discussion about Valhalla that was the major clue. I have now avidly watched and “ugly laughed” my way through all 3 seasons, and it is one of my not so very guilty pleasures.

This show is as if Monty Python and Blackadder met, went to Norway and had a baby. This irreverent offspring has much modern angst, a definite sense of fashion, is crude, rude, definitely enjoys slapstick but also has a tendency towards violence. If your sense of humour does not tend towards the very silly, then the chances are you will not “get” the humour.

Image shows Chieftan Olaf (Henrik Mestad) Left, with Freya (Silje Torp) right


Occasionally Norsemen can surprise will real subtlety, one example would be Chieftan Olaf’s willingness to play a political game. Mostly though what it lacks in subtlety it makes up for with laugh out loud outrageousness. The sort of humour where you find yourself laughing, very loudly, while all the time thinking, “I really shouldn’t be laughing at this because it isn’t something you should be laughing at,” e.g. someone being decapitated. Running gags abound in this show, and there is a lot of character-driven humour.

Looking at other aspects of the production for a moment, aside from the comedy, Norsemen has some stunningly beautiful scenery. The cinematography in general is very on point with the hand-held camerawork during battle scenes being just one example.

There is some excellent fight choreography with impressive battles of the kind you would expect from a more serious historical drama. The costuming, makeup and hair are all impressive with a good deal of accuracy and detailing. The colours of costumes, the leather, the fur, the jewellery, the crochet… Another area of accuracy is the ponies that they ride, including some beautiful Fjords.

Image shows Orm (Kåre Conrade) Left and Rufus (Trond Fausa) Right


The performances from the ensemble cast are all excellent, with great comic timing (kudos also to whoever edits this show) and range from the understated to the completely over the top. There are also parts which look as if the actors not only were having a great time but were also struggling not to crack up laughing. That a deadpan delivery can be maintained is seriously impressive. One of the devices I really enjoy is the use of “this will have a name in the future but we can’t use it now because it doesn’t exist yet”.

There are many homages to Python, Blackadder and Vikings woven through this show. However, given that all comedy is socially and culturally based, that it takes all sorts to make the world, and we do not all find the same things funny some people will not enjoy this. Historical Drama purists may also find this not to their taste.

I enjoy it immensely and look forward to more seasons to come. Laughter is good for the soul. And if nothing else, bear in mind these sage words of advice:

Image shows Arvid (Nils Jørgen Kaalstad) Left, Freya (Silje Torp) Centre, Orm (Kåre Conrade) Right. The text reads: “Keep your friends close, and your enemies a little further away.”


[Since this review was first published Norsemen won the Serie Critics Award for Best Comedy for the third year in a row. It has also not been picked up by Netflix for a 4th season. Hopefully it will find a new home elsewhere…]

Trailer S1:

https://youtu.be/HpMvIZRUPf4

Trailer S2:

https://youtu.be/JWRg5ykfsXQ

Trailer S3:

https://youtu.be/PtHswQWbcCA

For those who are fans of Nordic/Scandi TV shows and films there is great affiliated Facebook Page:

Other Links:

Both Henrik Mestad and Erik Aleksander Schjerven are in the Norwegian show Occupied, which is on Netflix:

Occupied ~ Non-Spoiler Review

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