TV Eye: Getting to grips with godliness

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The Almighty Johnsons, back for its second season, must be the weirdest show ever made in New Zealand. Photo / Supplied
The Almighty Johnsons, back for its second season, must be the weirdest show ever made in New Zealand. Photo / Supplied

Oh my Norse god. Is The Almighty Johnsons (8.30pm, Wednesdays, TV3) the weirdest New Zealand show ever made? At least it's not Norse God's Got Talent, and someone out there has imagination, even if the idea of four Kiwi brothers who are actually descended from Scandinavian deities is a bit contrived.

Those who missed the repeat screening of the season one finale last week might've found it tough keeping up with the second season opener.

Friggin' Frigg is still proving elusive for poor Axl, who must marry the goddess to restore his family's godly powers. Ty looks set to explore the dark side now that he's married to the goddess of the underworld - for the sake of the "sacred quest".

He revealed his wild side at a gothic party where the extras were staring into space which I think was meant to deduce that they were high. Or were they stunned by that awful music?

Agnetha made it known she's Mrs Johnson after all, having taken on a dead woman's body following her other life as, you remember, a tree. See what I mean? It's nuts, this show. At least that serious actor Michael Hurst showed up as new character Kvasir, the wisest god of all, a hobo who pees into a drain. He told Axl that in order to attract Frigg and become a god he'd first have to become a man, which bodes well for the "real" aspects of the show, presumably an exploration of what it takes to be a man in New Zealand.

What a relief. I think. Because what it takes to be a man in the Johnsons' version of New Zealand are the following traits: annoying smugness (Anders), with a liking for hallucinogens or methamphetamines (Olaf and Ty respectively), gormlessness with chicks (Axl), a tendency to be angry and horny (Mike), angry and controlling (Colin) or nerdy and prone to stupid outbursts (Zeb).

As original and amusing the AJs are, it's a bit blokey for my tastes. Even the women are intense to the point of grotesque. "Is that your [rhymes with mock] or you just pleased to see me?" said Michele to Colin. And yet I had no problem with the tack in Outrageous Fortune. Maybe I just expected more from gods.

Playing God is also at the heart of TV3's other big drama, Terra Nova (Saturdays, 7.30pm, TV3). Set in 2149, the earth is on the brink of environmental ruin but, phew, someone found an anomaly in the space-time continuum and figured out how to get a select few back to the dinosaur age. Don't worry, it's an alternate "time-stream" so they can't affect the present, I mean, future, day. Only Norse gods know how that one works. But it makes for a compelling, (and hugely expensive) TV show, with its Blade Runner-esque CGI'd future world and Jurassic Park meets Lost themes of the new, I mean, old frontier.

The show's central question - how would we do it differently if we could start again? - is enough to keep me watching, as is the suggestion that not all is well in this oxygen-rich Eden. That Commander Taylor (Stephen Lang) is good. And what are those rebels up to? The sentimental family drama feels a little forced though, what with the moody teenage son with daddy issues, the scholarly daughter who spouts off scientific explanations (aka provides the show's exposition, at least in the first episode) and illegal third child Zoe, the product of a surprising lack of chemistry between otherwise incendiary lead Jason O'Mara and his wife, played by Shelley Conn. Of course, Jase got his shirt off in the pilot. Turns out there are gods in the Cretaceous period too.

- NZ Herald

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