Several people have asked me about what I think of the new series The Vikings (History channel). I`ve only seen two episodes but I will tell you my opinion if you`ll me yours 😉
First what I like about the series:
- The shieldmaiden. I truly loved her and I loved how we were told that she`d saved her husband`s life and fought side-by-side with him. I also loved how she was able to protect her family and I do like the actress portraying her.
- The actor portraying Ragnar Lodbrog is pretty cool too. Okay, he`s hot and I may have to try and talk my husband into getting a hair cut (and some hair extensions) to copy that amazing braid.
- The fact that they made a series about Vikings at all. My eyes can never be tired of looking at Viking clothes, houses, ships, weapons etc etc.
What I don`t like about the series:
- They are pretending this is a portrayal of historical facts and it isn`t. They are telling us the story about Ragnar Lodbrog (a figure from the myths but one they are fairly sure has lived even if they aren`t sure about the details – he was claimed to have taken Paris, for instance) – who was Danish and yet they let him live in a country with high mountains and deep fjords. Most of us would think Norway (though it`s filmed in Ireland) and not flat-as-a-pancake Denmark when we see the topography sorrounding Ragnar`s home. The story of Ragnar would have been SO much better if they`d made him just any old Viking Ragnar and not Ragnar Lodbrog, the (probably) historical figure.
- What is with Gabriel Byrne as a Viking earl? It rubs me the wrong way. Probably because he doesn`t look Norse at all and the accent is horrible. Was he the only famous actor they could find? I also missed more Nordic actors.
- Which brings me to the next point: What is it with the silly accents? They are speaking freaking English – not Norse. They won`t seem any more Norse just because the English is broken. They just seem stupid. Especially since the accents are different from scene to scene. Even the names are pronounced differently from scene to scene.
- The portrayal of the Vikings – Rollo especially. They are dirty, blood thirsty, raping killers with no sense at all when really the Vikings had a weekly washday (Saturday) and there was a death sentence for rape.
- The use of all “knowledge” about Vikings in one great mixture. The scene in episode two where all the Vikings washed and blew their noses in the same water was so silly. This is a description used by Ibn Fadlan about the “Vikings” living in Russia/Belorus – not about the Vikings in the Nordic countries. Since this is one of the few descriptions about a people that may or may not have been similar to the Vikings, it was long considered a “fact” that Vikings washed themselves like that. But we don`t know that they did this and it seems silly to have it as a part of this series unless it was the people behind the series trying to tell us that “yes, we have read about the Vikings – truly we have.” I would have been more happy if they`d used their imagination instead.
- And even if they try to add all the “knowledge” we have about the Vikings, they still mess up. Like making Rollo use an ax when axes were probably mainly used by poor warriors who couldn`t afford a sword. Or making Floke make a boat just my snapping his fingers. Or mixing up 300 years of Viking age – imagine if we mixed up something from 1713 in how we portrayed the present.
- The Vikings and the Christian monks. Arrrgh, that meeting was annoying. Yes, I realize that the writers of this series probably grew up in a Christian country but do they have to be so obvious about how nice and sweet and gentle and brainy the monks were and how blood thirsty and cruel the Vikings were just because they “get” the Christians better than the Vikings? The cruelest of the Vikings – Rollo – (we just saw him rape a girl, we know he`s baaaad) was the one who destroyed the cross with Jesus on it. Oh, the shock. Really, the Vikings were curious about this new religion and they accepted Christians into their countries. They stole from the monks, of course, but the hatred against their religion portrayed in this series has no basis in what we know about the Vikings. At least not until the Christians tried to forcefully baptize the Vikings.
- “There is no land to the West”. This is repeated on and on in the series and is really silly since the Vikings traded with the people on the other side of the North Sea way before they started raiding them. They knew they were there, they (probably) just didn`t raid them until the late 8th century (Lindisfarne being the first known raid in the west).
- The general red thread in the series (well, the first two episodes, at least) about the Vikings being so strange and brutal and weird. I`d hoped for a series about the life of the Vikings that went behind the myths and prejudice – not one that added to them.
- I have to watch the series on a crappy online channel provided by HBONordic. They aren`t showing it on any television channels here in Scandinavia but an online channel will never be as good as the real thing – especially not the sorry excuse for an online channel HBONordic are forcing us to pay for.
The series has a kick-ass shieldmaiden. I`m sold and I`ll keep watching no matter how crappy it turns out if she stays alive and fighting.
(Yes, I`m cheap :-D)
What do you think of the series?