Coming to NRK this fall is Norsemen, a comedy drama about the everyday life of the Norse people. “Epic and stupid” are the two words the co-director use to describe the series.
Set in the year 790, Norsemen (original title: Vikingane) starts when a Roman actor, Rufus, is taken to the Norse village Norheim, where he starts a life as a slave. With time he finds a fan and equal in the chieftain’s coward brother, Orm. The two takes the village in a new direction, away from pillaging and wars. Now arts and culture is the thing, a thousands years early! Prioritizing the arts before war will prove to be a great challenge for the Viking villagers. And how will Rufus’ great skills in acting like a lady affect the tough Vikings?
Meanwhile, Norheim’s greatest warrior Arvid enjoys violent expeditions. As he discuss the situation with chieftain Olav, he realize that he is the only one who does not look forward to coming home. All his friends have something to come home to; a wife, a good farm, children and slaves. Arvid, however, has none of that since he chose to ravage and steal most of his life. Soon Arvid must fight a different battle, and must go from being a hero to being a farmer with a very demanding wife.
Norsemen deal with the harsh reality of the Viking age, but not in a serious or spectcular way like some of the more epic and violent Viking dramas as of late. The 6 episode series is basically a sitcom with topics such as power struggle, gender roles, love and old traditions. -It’s the story of people from our time, but living during the Viking era. Of course everyday choices have far more dramatic consequences and that makes for great comedy material, producer Anders Tangen said.
Co-director and writer Jon Iver Helgaker said to the newspaper Dagbladet that he got the idea after having watched the vampire comedy What they do in the shadows. Various vampire movies and TV dramas like True Blood had sunk its fangs in our entertainment space, “and that’s when it is natural for comedy to be the next step” Helgaker said. He also saw TV shows such as Vikings and Game of Thrones as signs of why comedy in the same universe would be viable. -Epic and stupid are the two words I’d like to use to describe the series, he concluded, while also mentioning The Office as an inspiration.
(All photos: Copyright NRK.)
An English version of the TV series has been produced for foreign markets. Producer Anders Tangen (Lilyhammer, Dag) believes the “Monty Python meets Game of Thrones” spoof series will have international appeal. -It [also] allows us to bypass the remake option, plus Norwegian actors who speak English fluently can use this as a calling card to boost their international career, he said in a press statement. About the filming of the series, he explained: -Basically we shoot on average four takes for every scene, three takes in Norwegian and one in English, then we take the versions to the studios and work on lip synching to make each version cleaner. If it works, it will be revolutionary. We’re also [shot] 14 days in parallel to make the filming shorter, with two directors, so the cost for the entire series remains very low.
Public broadcaster NRK has already ordered a second season, currently shceduled to air in fall 2017. You’ll probably watch it if you can’t get enough of the urination in faces, drinking of spit and cutting off ears that are some of the jokes in season one. Norsemen is one of very few Viking TV dramas made in Scandinavia and the first since the sitcom Home to Midgard in 2003.
Norsemen, which was filmed over three months at a replica Viking farm at Avaldsnes in Karmøy in Western Norway, stars some of Norway’s most famous actors: Trond Fausa Aurvåg, Marian Saastad Ottesen, Nils Jørgen Kaalstad, Jon Øigarden, Kåre Conradi, Henrik Mestad, Kristine Riis, Ingar Helge Gimle and Silje Torp.
The series has been concieved, written and directed by Jonas Torgersen and Jon Iver Helgaker and will be shown on NRK’s website from October 14 (all episodes) and on TV from October 21.
Trailers and clips: