Season: 1 Episode: 1 Network: TV3
NZ Air Date: 8 February 2011
UK Air Date: 2 February 2012
Starring: Emmett Skilton, Tim Balme, Dean O’Gorman, Jared Turner, Ben Barrington
Writer: James Griffin
Director: Mark Beesley
Relationships, inter-familiar bickering and sniping, pursued by witches, siblings with powers – the first episode of The Almighty Johnsons is pretty much Charmed.
Only with Norse gods, and in New Zealand.
Kiwi Viking Charmed also seems hugely enamoured with male nudity, with naked buttock screen time outnumbering the lines for some of the principal cast, painting a pretty compelling picture of the show’s target audience.
In trying to snare the sort of breathlessly adoring fanbase Supernatural boasts, they’ve multiplied the number of brothers, and shown you their bums.
There’s the protective, grizzled older one, Mike, who is the earthly incarnation of Ullr, god of the hunt, and has that sort of ‘rest your head on my shoulder’ Gary Barlow thing going on. Implausibly, he’s also Tim Balme, the shrieking Norman Bates-alike from Peter Jackson’s Brain Dead.
There’s the moody, pale one – destined to have impromptu video montages posted on YouTube to the tune of ‘Numb’ by Linkin Park – Ty, the earthly incarnation of Höðr, the god of the dark and cold. He’s played by Jared Turner, who has a proven track record of being pale, having played supporting characters in Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans and 30 Days Of Night.
There’s the vain, selfish one – destined to appear in Tumblr image macros delivering pithy bon mots – Anders, who channels Bragi the god of poetry. He’s played by Dean O’Gorman, who has appeared in Hercules, Young Hercules and Xena countless times, and is going to be a dwarf in The Hobbit, so he’s very good at pretending the hills and forests of New Zealand are magical, faraway kingdoms.
Not technically a brother, Olaf is their grandfather but being Baldr, god of spring and renewal, he ages very slowly and manages to look as handsomely rugged as the rest of them. He’s a surfer, and a massive hippie, and girls will just want to take him home and take care of him (and his massive pecs).
Finally there’s the lead, Axl, played by Emmet Skilton, just out of his teens, the audience identification figure and earthly incarnation of Odin, father of the gods and head of the Norse pantheon. The absence of a Thor, and the fact that he’s playing Thor’s dad/boss is possibly a nose-thumbing at Australia: “Yeah, whatever, you’ve got some big-armed Home And Away lifeguard playing at being the thunder god over in LA, but we’ve got the daddy of all the Norse gods himself right here in New Zealand.”
Axl is inducted into the family pantheon on his 21st, while his brothers bicker and snipe, and witches pursue him for some undetailed end – but mostly bicker. Go on, Google “The Almighty Johnsons” – I wager an off-ripe banana that over half the images will be of these rugged pin-ups scowling each other like a favourite boyband on their reunion tour.
It’s all very cheap and all very trashy, and in the world of cheap, trashy supernatural drama it delivers. This stuff is the junk food of genre TV, and some times you just want to gorge yourself on one liners, sibling rivalry, love triangles, sex and bums.
Actually, maybe not bums.