Have You Been Watching…The Almighty Johnsons?

"Hang on, why do you get to be Odin and I'm stuck with Freyr, God of Things You Find Down The Back Of Sofas?"

The words ‘and now on SyFy: a new supernatural drama from New Zealand’ provokes rather mixed emotions.

On the one hand I’m rather fond of New Zealand’s cultural output, for example those two delightful singing hobbits, one of my favourite films and the best song about wolves ever written.

On the other hand, the SyFy channel is a blight on the television landscape (and I say that as an unabashed science fiction fan).

As you may be aware, the mainstay of Syfy’s programming is films featuring mega-sharks fighting enormo-octopii, or monster-crocs, or giganti-whales or whatnot, all of which are unreserved awful. Obviously the term mega-shark provokes a certain level of interest but every aspect of those films: acting, writing, direction, CGI etc, is so grim as to render them unwatchable to even the most desperate cannabis-and-irony addicted student.

If you’re going to do a film about a mega-shark then for the love of God, please just do it properly. Surely there’s more to the life of a mega-shark than fighting other giant sea beasts. What are the hopes, dreams and fears of a mega-shark? When he comes home to an empty sea cave late at night, what does a mega-shark cry about? And so on…

The Almighty Johnsons does not provide answers to such pressing questions, however it is leagues above the vast majority of SyFy’s output. Although I’m aware that’s not really saying much.

It features four brothers in a small New Zealand town, whose family secret is that at 21 they become an embodiment of a Norse god, but in a fairly rubbish ‘limited powers because no one believes in us any more’ sort of way.

That’s a decent premise to start with, but what I like even more is they’ve gone to the trouble of digging up fairly obscure gods for the brothers to be the reincarnations of. Come on down Ullr: God of Hunting and Bragi: God of Poetry! Let’s hear your story.

I was half expecting Jeff: God of Biscuits and Anoia: Goddess of Things Stuck At The Back Of Kitchen Drawers to show up too.

There’s a rich and varied Norse mythology out there but all you ever hear is Thor this, Thor that, magical hammer the next thing. Bonus points to the show for digging a bit deeper.

As a piece of television The Almighty Johnsons is well put together and engaging. Yes, it’s reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in its attempt to mix humour with the supernatural, but that’s a pretty great place to take your cues from.

The youngest brother of the four is the main character, and his discovery that he’s the reincarnation of Odin (lucky sod- no hanging around in hipster cafes waiting to hear the next horrific Bob Dylan inspired student beat poet for him) drives the main plot behind the series. Though the character starts off young and dumb to an irritating degree, doubtless his journey to maturity will be part of the story.

There’s nothing groundbreaking here- we even have the old staple of the pretty roommate with a secret crush on the main character- but it’s solid entertainment.

And until SyFy get around to making Sex, Lies and Mega-Shark or Vicky Christina Mega-Shark Barcelona it’s likely to represent a pretty high water mark for the channel.

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The Almighty Johnsons is on SyFy, 10pm, Thursdays.

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About Ian Dunn
I love avocados, WH Auden and dinosaurs but I don't like effort.

10 Responses to Have You Been Watching…The Almighty Johnsons?

  1. This person seems to think The Almighty Johnsons is a SyFy production, it’s a show from New Zealand. Even a country with one original TV channel is better than SyFy.

    • Kaz says:

      the same person who thinks that Auckland is a “small NZ town” 😉

      • Andrew says:

        One mini spoiler: Thor does show up, but only for one episode, and not in the way you might expect.

        Loki, on the other hand….

      • Ian Dunn says:

        In my defence, in the first line I said ‘and now on SyFy: a new supernatural drama from New Zealand’ which I thought made clear it was an import rather than a SYFY production.
        However, you do have me bang to rights on the Auckland issue. I apologise wholeheartedly to the fine and honourable people of Auckland for any slight!

        • Hilary Wardle says:

          Auckland appears small from Britain, as it’s so very far away. Other small towns include Sydney, Melbourne and Antarctica.

        • Kaz says:

          You are forgiven – from all us fine people from the “small NZ town”

          Awesome series and season 2 starts here for us on Wednesday. Can’t wait!

          • Hilary Wardle says:

            Phew, glad to hear NZ isn’t starting a war with us. We’ve got a lot on with all our other wars, including one with London that started when we said it was a small village full of cunts.

            Well, we were 50% right.

          • Kaz says:

            only 50% – I would have said higher 😉

            Oh %$*& – does that mean they now get to start a war with us now? Remember we are “fine and honourable people”

            Did that help? No – oh well – guess it’s time to get the dwarves out again if England is to come and invade. Should keep them busy whilst the rest of us fortify our small village

    • Pamela says:

      Nah they were just saying it’s being promoted on syfy in the UK, not a syfy show 🙂

  2. Pingback: Return of The Almighty Johnsons « Victoria Kelly

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