During the holidays I took advantage of the 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime. Besides making great use of the free 2 day shipping on a ton of items, I had the privilege of getting to watch the first season of the ‘Vikings’ tv show which originally aired on the History Channel. I really wanted to check it out when it first aired but I never got around to it. I’m very happy I didn’t miss out as it didn’t disappoint. This is not a review as much as a recommendation because I don’t want to give any spoilers away.
It follows the tales of the legendary Viking chieftain Ragnar Lodbrok and the viking life of raiding and exploration. The first admirable thing to note is it’s filmed entirely on location in Ireland. The production aspect, especially the costumes and sets, is fantastic. Everything looks and feels very authentic. From what I have read it’s also a very accurate depiction of the time period. It creates a very immersive experience when you watch.
Another great thing about the show is that the story is not complicated and is easy to follow. This can sound like a bad thing to some, but it does just enough where it doesn’t overwhelm you and allows you to actually care about everything happening. It’s easy to watch and just sit back and enjoy. Also unlike many of the other shows on cable networks like Starz, HBO or Showtime with shows like Sparticus and Game of Thrones, Vikings is not focused on the sometimes unnecessary and overbearing sexual aspects that plague many of these shows. It doesn’t mean there is no romance, it just doesn’t waste time showing every sexual detail. It’s definitely a nice change for once. The focus is on the writing and the characters themselves and is what moves the plot forward.
The action is quite in your face and doesn’t hold back. It’s loyalty lays within the historical nature of Viking culture and it does so without any shame. Just when you really start admiring the characters, the show reminds you that Vikings are, to put it one way, less than honorable people. It’s especially refreshing when a show isn’t afraid to explore the darker side of past civilizations and people. It becomes a guilty pleasure to see such a side from a different point of view. You know you shouldn’t be supporting the characters’ actions but you can’t help but get behind them. This is one of the most engrossing things about the show. Being bad has never felt so good.
Lastly, and most importantly, the cast really just brings everything together. Travis Fimmel, who plays Ragnar Lodbrok is incredibly charismatic as the lead. Katheryn Winnick who plays his wife Lagertha is a powerhouse. She perfectly captures the tough blend of strength, independence, intelligence, tenderness and all the best qualities of a caring mother. She gives women the respect they deserve. Then you have Gustaf Skarsgard as Floki, a talented shipbuilder and friend of Ragnar who is a funny, wacky delight every time he’s on screen. These are just three of an entire cast that brings this show to life.
Although the season is relatively short (just a sweet 9 episodes) this formula is becoming increasingly more popular. What it allows is for the story to move forward more efficiently, minimizing writing constraints and less interesting subplots that are occasionally added to stretch out a season. This show is no exception. In my opinion the show is more than worth a watch if you were even remotely interested in it so I definitely recommend checking it out.
Watch season 1 now at history.com. Season 2 premieres Thurs., Feb. 27 at 10/9c on the History Channel.