A review by Nalini Haynes
Skip to video interview or listen to the same interview in podcast (above).
The Almighty Johnsons TV series opens on Axl’s 21st birthday when Axl (Emmett Skilton, aka Odin) learns the family secret in an initiation ceremony… that requires him to strip naked in the woods. It’s a very cheeky episode, with continual flashbacks to Emmett’s cheekiness.
Axl learns his family is not merely descended from Norse Gods but that they are incarnations of those same Norse Gods with an equally dysfunctional family. When a goddess puts an arrow in Axl’s chest he discovers he has enemies too.
Season 3 aired, revealing the Johnsons – the central Norse family – in all their dysfunctional epicness. Ullr, aka Mike (Tim Balme) undergoes a transformation in this season. He indulges in the games for which Ullr is famous, winning… and changing his persona along the way.
Out for personal gain, Mike becomes increasingly dictatorial, yelling at the goddesses. Never a good idea.
Loki inflames the situation as always. Shane Cortese plays Colin Gunderson, aka Loki, with such flair he’s been shortlisted for awards this year.
Proponents of the Bechdel Test will be in awe at the Almighty Johnsons‘ awesomeness in flying past the post. The women in this series have relationships with the men but they’re independent of the men too, having female friendships, running a business, being a doctor, being a Goddess Healer.
Early in the series the Almighy Johnsons‘ lesbian and bisexual women’s relationships may have been cause for concern in some quarters. In season 3, these relationships left me with food for thought, especially after the Gender Diversity podcast recorded this morning (to be published on 5 May 2014). I think the Queer/LGBT community will appreciate the subtle writing. Olaf, Ingrid and Stacey form a polyamorous trio that is as subtle and respectful as Ivanova’s relationship with Talia in Babylon 5.
And the episode with the gay couple! These guys were two distinguishable characters. Yes, they were brought in for humour, but so was Thor. Their characters and their relationship with Thor were well developed, right up until the closing scene where a subtle reveal tells the audience all is not as it may have appeared.
When Olaf and Axl went to talk to the sea, a Maori god appeared. In season 2 the Johnsons meet the Maoris and come to an understanding – after misunderstandings.
The entire series has won three awards, including 2 in New York Festivals, and has been shortlisted for several more including the Sir Julius Vogel Award for 2014 for ‘best dramatic presentation’. I haven’t seen Eternity, the Almighty Johnson‘s rival for that award, but it’s hard to imagine TAJ missing out.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Almighty Johnsons and highly recommend it. I give season 3 five stars.
★★★★★ 5 out of 5 stars
To celebrate watching season 3, my interview with Tim Balme and Emmett Skilton has been re-edited and put back up on YouTube. When it first went online Dark Matter wasn’t a YouTube partner so the video had to go up in 10 minute segments (blech). Now it’s up in wholesome goodness. Enjoy.