Edinburgh Evening News

Cross the rainbow bridge from Asgard with Almighty Johnsons

- Nigel Booth discovers Norse comedy drama

It’s up to Axl, who is the reincarnat­ion of Odin to restore his family’s full powers

It isn’t often that I get to review a series from New Zealand, but here I am casting a critical eye over a comedic offering from the Kiwi nation.

The comedy drama The Almighty Johnsons is currently airing on Amazon Prime and, despite my initial reservatio­ns, it is actually quite good – who would have thought?

It stars Emmett Skilton as Axl Johnson, and his brothers Tim Balme as Mike Johnson (unofficial head of the family), Ben Barrington as Olaf Johnson, Jared Turner as Ty Johnson and Dean O'Gorman as Anders Johnson.

How does the plot unfold and reveal the main characters? Well a bit contrived (aren’t these plots always the same?) but once the basic fantasy premise is establishe­d it allows for all manner of unfeasible stories to become feasible.

The series centres around a band of brothers who were formerly Norse gods. These gods had at some time in the distant past crossed the rainbow bridge from Asgard to go among humans, who then scared the gods off to the Antipodes, where they now reside and where their powers and godliness have been in decline ever since that time.

Aside from Axl the brothers are Mike (Ullr, god of the hunt); the roguish Anders (also Bragi, god of poetry); and middlechil­d-type Ty (who is Hodor, in charge of all things cold and dark (in the series he fixes refrigerat­ors). And last but by no means least there is cousin/ grandfathe­r Olaf who is a hardpartyi­ng, bald-headed, ageless beach bum (Baldr, god of light).

The show follows student Axl ( who is carefree and dim-witted), and who on his 21st birthday discovers he and his family members are reincarnat­ed Norse gods, whose powers are somewhat muted in their human form – are you following so far?

It is up to Axl, who is the reincarnat­ion of Odin (a fact only revealed after he is coerced into stripping naked in a remote forest with his brothers in attendance – dont ask), to restore their full powers and ensure the family's survival by finding the reincarnat­ion of Odin's wife, Frigg.

Matters are complicate­d by the presence of three Norse goddesses who are trying to find Frigg before the Johnsons do to prevent the restoratio­n of the gods' full powers (which would then place them above the goddesses in terms of influence and power), as well as an antagonist­ic reincarnat­ion of Norse god Loki.

The main character of the show, Axl, was raised by Mike after their father left and mother walked out. He has shown a few abilities, strength, resistance to drugs and an instinctiv­e battle sense as befitting a war god. But he is a typical loose canon 21-year-old and, as such, it makes the task of finding his future wife Frigg all the more difficult.

He also has an even more dim-witted best friend Zeb, played by Hayden Frost, who is unaware of his mate’s Nordic god powers.

Although this series is bereft of special effects and the usual pyrotechni­cs it is quite compelling and good fun. It is a little bit half-baked in its plot, but it is nonetheles­s a good bit of hokum with a bit of good humour thrown in.

This show is not popular or widely known outside of New Zealand and it took some remote flicking to find it, but it turned out to be a little gem.

It's nice to find something a little different that is not from America or the UK and this great little show has characters that are fantastic, funny, and well-written. The storyline is fairly well thought-out when you get past the first episode and is not too complicate­d (for us simple souls) or not so simple as to be only fit for complete dullards.

Each of the characters’ unique personalit­ies are well formed and invite the audience to like or dislike them as they evolve throughout the series.

The ongoing plot, as described, seems simple, but there are several twists and turns that keep you entertaine­d and invested in the story, as well as injections of comedy.

It isn’t an historical epic and shouldn’t be taken as such, but in its favour it does offer uncomplica­ted easy viewing.

The American network Syfy (which has promoted this antipodean series) has built internatio­nal acquisitio­ns of programmes that fit its brand into the network’s programmin­g.

This Kiwi series is certainly a cut above many other offerings that Syfy has taken to promoting.

If you don’t mind anything that doesn’t take itself too seriously then you may enjoy this Norse nonsense.

 ?? Photo: Getty Images ?? Emmett Skilton who stars as Axl Johnson in The Almighty Johnsons.
Photo: Getty Images Emmett Skilton who stars as Axl Johnson in The Almighty Johnsons.
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