“The Almighty Johnsons” – Kiwi fantasy with added hot blokes

Before January of this year, I had no clue that “The Almighty Johnsons” existed.

Handsome Gods doing normal things

It showed up in the e-mail that SyFy channel send me – I probably signed up to it at some point, can’t remember when – and prompted me to emit a mild ‘Huh?’ and move on with my life.  As I’m on the outs with SyFy over various things – not the least of which being the UK version of the channel failing to show 2011’s “Eureka” Christmas special – I filed this show firmly in my “I might watch this if there’s nothing else on” category and duly forgot about it.

But curiosity clearly got the better of me and I watched the first episode this Thursday – and it’s not half-bad.  Not extraordinary, not a show which is likely to change your life significantly, but certainly a fairly decent kick-off for a show which could be worth keeping up with.

The premise is simple – four brothers leading reasonably straightforward lives in present day New Zealand are actually reincarnated Norse gods with accompanying special powers.  The focus is very much on the comedic relationships and fraternal niggles rather than high-octane heroics and mythic wrangling.  Which isn’t to say that this show ignores the Norse aspects of its premise but focuses a little more on the everyday (and presumably budget-friendly) stuff before dropping in some well-executed effects to underpin the fantasy elements.

This show’s opening episode plowed a reasonably expected furrow – the youngest brother inherits his Norse persona on his 21st birthday and the brothers peaceful existence is threatened by a mysterious group of  women with similarly powerful abilities – but did so with wit and an on off-kilter sensibility.  It’s a show which is close in tone to “Being Human” (which I’ve never enjoyed) and “Misfits” (which I love) but has an identity of its own – there’s a nice juxtaposition of the ordinary and the mythical which is more than somewhat in my wheelhouse.  One issue which might put off some potential viewers is the show’s robust language – there’s lots of cursing and salty talk, but it’s never overdone.

If you like the presently popular literary genre of urban fantasy fiction – the Jim Butcher/Laurell K. Hamilton school of novelists, for example – then you’ll get a lot of this show’s blend of reality, myth and comedy.  There’s a lot of potential in it and I’ll certainly be checking out the next few episodes to see if it builds from this promising beginning to deliver a compelling take on Norse tropes or falls back on bloke humour and finding convenient excuses for it’s not entirely unattractive cast to suddenly lose their clothes (exhibit A – the business of becoming a Norse avatar requires one to be absolutely buff-assed nekkid.  Who’da thunk it?).

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