You might have heard of these fierce, axe-wielding 8th Century warriors or seen pictures of bearded men and plaited women in horned helmets, but Vikings brought to you by the History network breaks all conventional bounds and brings you a gritty, gruesome and above all a realistic series that leaves you thirsting for more.
Currently airing its third season this historical drama by no means documents with hundred percent accuracy but harnesses credible, well-paced story lines with authentically drawn characters and all set in historical Scandinavia but filmed in the scenic beauty of Ireland. Its premiere not only tallied impressive cumulative viewing figures of 18 million but has since won notable awards: #1 Cable Series Debut of the Year and History #1 in All of the Television Network for the Night.
Vikings tells its tale centred around farmer and family man Ragnar Lothbrok as played by Travis Fimmel whose intent is to sail West against the orders of his Earl Haraldson and where many others have failed before him. Ragnar is supported in his endeavours by his brother Rollo as played by Clive Standen and more importantly his Shield-maiden wife Lagertha as played by Katheryn Winnick who would rival any man in combat and strength…and who I believe also steals every scene that features her. Yes, these women fight alongside as equals and it’s not even a stretch of the imagination! A scientific fact!
Fun Fact: Gustaf Skarsgard who plays the character Floki in the series is brother to ‘True Blood’ star Alexander Skarsgard and son to ‘Thor’ and ‘Avengers’ star Stellan Skarsgard.
‘Elizabeth’ and ‘The Tudors’ writer Michael Hirst penned the entirety of the series single-handedly, a difficult task laden with considerable responsibility and yet achieved so with attentive compassion and mindful research. In talking with HitFix, Hirst speaks of how the production team were able to bring Vikings to life with a modest budget, ‘I thought it was a challenge for everyone. I knew it was a challenge. We don’t have the budget of an HBO. I was asking them — We were putting boats on the water, we were having battles. But then you decide that it’s worth it and if it’s worth it, then you’ll find a way of doing it.’
He also talks of how Vikings differs from other present television series; ‘I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase — I hadn’t heard it, but it’s a wonderful phrase — that all TV shows are “hosed down,” which means that everything is shot from every available angle. We want this to look like a movie. We want scale here. We don’t have the money to f*** around, so we’re gonna have to adapt to our resources. So we treat each scene on its merits. Sometimes we might just have one camera. If it’s a battle scene, we might have five cameras running. But we’re not going to hose everything down. We’re not doing that Hollywood thing. We’re gonna fly by the seat of our pants, because we are aiming for something else and it worked.’
And of the filming conditions; ‘One of the reasons it worked was we had great directors and we had a great crew and whatever the Irish weather threw at us, we never stopped shooting. And there was this enormous belief in the show and it carried everything before it, which was an extraordinary thing.’
This series is like a fine wine that only gets better with age, as the episodes only become more and more addictive and engrossing as season one progresses and I can guarantee you’ll be head bopping along to the main theme as well! You can watch Vikings on the History Channel on Thursdays at 10pm and both Seasons One and Two are available to purchase on DVD. You might also want to check out the most popular unofficial fan site Vikings Fan for information about the show and extensive photo and video galleries.
Have you heard about this series before? What are your thoughts on historical dramas and are there any more out there that you think should be binge rated? Let me know what you think in the comments!
Binge Rating: ★★★★
Feature Image: Characters from the left; Rollo, Ragnar Lothbrok and Lagertha. Promotional Image sourced from http://www.history.com/shows/vikings/pictures