Warning: this review contains spoilers.
1.1 It’s a kind of a birthday present
Let’s get the snickering at the rather Freudian name of this show out of the way and launch straight into the set up. The Almighty Johnsons (fnarr!) is the story of four New Zealand brothers who are the human incarnations of Norse gods.
There’s Mike, or Ullr, the god of the hunt and champion rock paper scissors player. Ty, human version of Höðr, god of the cold and dark which makes him the ideal man to fix fridges which is handy because that’s what he does. Anders, Vodka magnate and smooth talker by day and incarnation of Bragi, the god of poetry by day as well. It’s very much a 24 hour role for him. And lastly we have the baby of the pack and focus for this opening episode, Axl.
It’s the eve of young Axl’s 21st birthday and we first see him stocking up on booze under a night sky filled with shooting stars. After a near miss with a 4×4, he invites the pretty blonde driver back to his party as you would do to the person who nearly ran you down. After getting a bit bouncy on a trampoline (heeeeee!) she pulls out a dagger and what follows is an assassination attempt on Axl so pitiful, she might as well have sent him a warning letter a week in advance.
But Axl’s issues don’t end there, the morning after he’s abducted by his own brothers and driven to the woods to meet his 92-going-on-31 granddad Olaf, the god of rebirth and dancing around holding a lamp. He can add god of exposition to his repertoire as he brings Axl up to speed with his legacy. Turns out, the baby of the pack is also the king of the gods himself, Odin!
Despite such a solid set up, The Almighty Johnsons (vwoop vwoop!) starts off in a manner as uninspired as the title. Billed as a comedy drama, it manages to lack both as the episode plods along ploddingly. There are attempts at showing the tensions between the elder brothers but the biggest crime is right after being told his entire life is a lie, Axl then carries on partying. This is pretty typical of The Almighty Johnsons’ approach, a great big sloppy mess (thrrup thrrup!) of plotlines and stock characters thrown together.
The Almighty Johnsons seems to be following the footsteps of both Charmed and Supernatural but remains firmly in their shadows. Plot elements are dropped in seemingly as an afterthought through Olaf. There’s no rhyme or reason to this show, the would-be killers, or the loose telling of Norse mythology.
The brothers themselves just simply aren’t interesting enough for me to care about, they may get a few admirers but they won’t be watching for the plot. At the end of the first episode, it’s revealed that the last incarnation of Odin died before he could fulfil his quest and his godly brethren passed away alongside him. So how the hell did they get to return?
In an age where Being Human and Misfits are doing amazing things with fantasy in a modern day setting, The Almighty Johnsons has no place. Granted, the show is in its early stages, but this opener is disappointingly promise-free. Largely devoid of wit, cohesion and even commitment to premise, it doesn’t even have the courtesy to be entertainingly awful.