Noob Reviews: Norsemen (Season 01)
Updated: Jan 15, 2020
Please be advised that during the review, I have tried to avoid a lot of spoilers. However, there may still be a few included to help explain certain points.
Season 01 is currently available to view on Netflix.
What is Norsemen?
Believe it or not that is a bit of a loaded question. Had you asked me before watching this television series I would have said the Norse (aka Vikings) were warriors, pirates and raiders. Farmers, artisans and a culture that had a firm belief in their gods. Now I am not too sure. But in all the best ways.
Norseman takes everything you think you know about the Norse and flips it on its head. This is a sort of action comedy in which we follow the lives and adventures of a group of Vikings from Norheim in Norway circa 790 AD.
Whether it be political struggles, the evolution of theatre in Norway, inter Viking tribe fighting or invading the shores of England. They are never ones to back down from a challenge.
What do you mean ‘but in all the best ways’?
Before watching Norseman you need to really appreciate that this is somewhat historical but a lot more hysterical. It takes what you may already know about Vikings, reshapes it and throws it right back at you in some very unexpected ways.
Personally I love history, the area where I live currently (North Yorkshire, near York) is drenched with Viking history, and yet I found this program to be enjoyable. Some more hardcore historians may not take such a favourable view of it as it does not take itself too seriously.
Do you have a trailer to show us?
- Season 01 | Official Trailer -
When did it come out?
Admittedly I am very behind the curve on this little gem and it was originally released in October 2016. Although called Norsemen, it also goes by the name Vikingane (aka Vikings) in Norway where it premiered.
Have no fear as season two has already been released (which I will review as soon as I have seen it fully) and a season three is rumoured to be in the works too.
How many episodes are there?
There are currently six episodes in season one, averaging about thirty minutes each.
Can you give us an example of some story lines?
Although the primary core of Norseman is the adventures of the Vikings from Norheim (their home village) there are many weird and wonderful additions. Whether it be a Roman actor wishing to elevate the ‘barbarians’ who captured him to the heights of the modern world and put them on the map for their theatre performances. Or raiding England to supply their village with much-needed materials.
Don’t get me wrong there are some quite in depth story lines that were surprisingly serious, such as the village’s chieftain (Olav) been assassinated and his brother Orm taking over as the new chieftain. This story really reminded me of Gladiator as it was actually the head of the Viking raiding party / warriors (Arvid) who was due to become chieftain before Olav passed away, only an hour or so, after telling him his wish. As you may remember Marcus Aurelius had the same wish for Maximus (general of his army) in Gladiator but Commodus (Marcus’ son) finds out and assassinates him before Marcus is able to tell anyone else.
Another quite interesting storyline was the introduction of a rival Viking tribe Jarl named Varg who was promised a map to the west so his own people could go raiding and pillaging. Unfortunately during the burial service for Olav, that map that stops their village getting invaded, may have accidentally been placed on the boat that was sent out to sea with the old chieftain's body on. When Varg finds out, he is not too pleased as you may be able to guess, as he considers the act one of betrayal.
Who is behind Norsemen?
Norseman was created by Jon Iver Helgaker and Jonas Torgersen, with the musical score been composed by Johannes Ringen.
Who are some actors and actresses in the series?
Henrik Mestad (Olav) - Henrik is an actor who has appeared in such things as The Greatest Thing, United, The Art of Negative Thinking and The Lion Woman (alongside Kåre Conradi who also appeared in the same).
Jon Øigarden (Jarl Varg) - An actor best known for his role as a gentleman named Peter Verås in a television series called Mammon. Jon has also appeared in other productions such as Norwegian Ninja, Weekend and the 2018 Netflix exclusive 22 July.
Marian Saastad Ottesen (Hildur) - An actress who has participated in many a film and television production. Marian has appeared in such things as Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder, Lilyhammer, Love Me Tomorrow and The Art of Negative Thinking (alongside Henrik Mestad who also appeared in the same).
Nils Jørgen Kaalstad (Arvid) - Actor and musician, I will admit Nils was brilliant as the character Arvid in Norsemen and someone I really like as an actor. They have appeared in other television and film productions such as Valley of Knights - Mira's Magical Christmas, Dyrene i Hakkebakkeskogen and Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama.
Øystein Martinsen (Kark) - Øystein is worth a special note as his portrayal of the slave Kark who was freed and unable to deal with his freedom, so willingly went back to slavery, was hysterical at times. He is an actor and has previously starred in the film Next Door.
Silje Torp ( Frøya) - Silje is an actress who has previously appeared in other television and film productions such as Dag, Knerten, You Really Got Me and Lilyhammer (alongside Marian Saastad Ottesen who appeared in the same).
Trond Fausa Aurvåg (Rufus) - An actor, poet and film director who has appeared in many previous film and television productions, from Bloody Angels and Junk Mail to I Am Yours and Lilyhammer (alongside Marian Saastad Ottesen and Silje Torp who also appeared in the same).
How did you like the first season?
Admittedly I went into Norseman having seen no trailer or really much about it, it popped up on my Netflix recommended list and I thought ‘oh, that looks like Vikings, will give it a go’ as I am a huge Vikings fan. Both of the History Channel show and of the Vikings from a more historical point of view. I am so glad I took a chance on this one!
From start to finish I was giggling to myself, smirking and really enjoyed every minute of it. There were no dips in quality that I found, the episodes were in short bite sized pieces and always well paced. Character development and story arcs were handled perfectly as was the rise of one of our main protagonists Arvid. Don’t get me wrong though, season one ended cleanly and left the door wide open with more than enough material for season two to come along, and I am so happy to find a season two is already out.
Depending on whether it be the adventures of the Norheim Vikings in general. The blooming romance between Arvid and Frøya. Or the points of view of Kark, a freed slave who was unable to deal with all this new-found freedom, so he returned himself to become a slave and works as sort of the slave’s motivational speaker and councillor. There is something for everyone.
One little thing I will just point out from speaking to friends and family about Norseman is it doesn’t take itself too seriously as mentioned above. It can be for everyone, if you give it time. I know Vikings (the show) never fully sat right with some people due to its inaccuracies and portrayal of the Vikings (as a historical people). Norseman is far from historically accurate too but see it as what it is, comedy, and you will (hopefully) fall in love with it as I did.
Unlike previous reviews there was not much in the way of an official trailer on YouTube I could use from the official Netflix channel for season one, so I have embedded one from ERiKC3000’s channel. A big thank you to them for posting it all that time ago and check them out if you get a chance.
I would also like to just share one of my favourite moments form Norseman, a clip that really sums up the sort of humour throughout. This is from Spiritual Placebo’s channel on YouTube. Check them out if you get a chance.
The clip is taken from episode four 'The Raid,' where the Viking raiding party invades England to look for resources.
What overall rating would you give season one of Norseman?
There is no question that I would give Norseman a solid 5 out of 5 bananas.
Although the humour can be crude and somewhat juvenile at times, I thought it was interesting and entertaining. I found myself watching season one back-to-back and the time just flew by. Fight scenes were well choreographed, character development was well paced and the plots and subplots were always fun to see unfold.
Thank you very much for checking out the review and if you are interested in Norsemen and would like to check it out for yourself, to form your own opinion, you can check it out here.