Netflix Original Programming: “Lilyhammer”

With Steven Van Zandt, Trond Fausa Aurvaag, Marian Saastad Ottesen, Fridtjov Saheim

    Today Netflix has unveiled its first “original” programming titled “Lilyhammer”. The entire first season, all eight episodes, are available all at once. I recently watched the pilot, and I have to say, the show is rather odd, but also really enjoyable. Don’t let the poor cover art turn you off.

Stevie van Zandt, best known as Silvio on “The Sopranos” and as Bruce Springsteen’s lead guitarist on The E-Street Band, plays Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano who turns states evidence against a newly appointed mafia boss who tried to kill him. Tagliano would only turn states evidence under one condition: that he’s sent to Lilyhammer, Norway under witness protection. Why? Because Tagliano loved watching the 1994 Winter Olympics that was in Lilyhammer.

Sound strange? Well yeah, so is the show. The first fifteen minutes or so of the pilot is set in America, with incredibly low production value and Van Zandt is surrounded with almost horrid wooden acting. I was a little worried. But once he arrives in Norway the show picks up. Both with acting and with its production value, shot all in Norway.

    The show’s characters are fun. They’re generic, but fun. There are two brothers, one is a bus driver and other is working the system. Ahhh, the joys of living in a welfare state! The show also plants the seeds for Van Zandt’s love interest and his “enemy”. The show doesn’t seem to want to take things too seriously, which is alright, because the misadventures of a mobster in Norway were fun to watch.

Van Zandt doesn’t really stray too far away from his trademarked Silvio character, and he doesn’t really have too. He’s exactly what you’d expect him to be, and that’s fine. He’s a tough motherfucker who is now living in Norway, trying to adapt to his new electric car and Norwegian television. I couldn’t tell if this show was going to be a drama or a comedy, but from the looks of the pilot it seems to me it’s going to be later.

I have to admit I’m impressed with both the show, and Netflix’s decision to distribute this show. Netflix had announced, about a year ago, that they are going to distribute “House of Cards”, a Kevin Spacey/David Fincher political thriller set in the English Parliament, where Spacey stars as the House Whip who’s wielding his power to become the next Prime Minister. Now that sounds good. The production hasn’t gone underway yet, but the show should start shooting soon.

I enjoyed the pilot, and I like the idea of Netflix releasing the entire show at once, and not week by week, which would probably allow me to not really be interested in following it up. After I post this review, I’m going to go onward to the next episode and see where that takes me.

Rating 8/10

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Author: Frank Mengarelli

Everybody relax, Frank's here. After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, Frank decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank's favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT, THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS..

2 thoughts on “Netflix Original Programming: “Lilyhammer””

  1. I completely agree with you that it’s awesome that Netflix released the whole season at once, but I tried watching it, and I thought Lilyhammer was absolutely terrible. More than half of the acting was horrific, the writing was weak, and it was full of cliché. It certainly didn’t make me regret cancelling Netflix back when they were going through the whole splitting services stuff. Especially since I got set up with Blockbuster @Home through my employer, DISH. It’s awesome because not only do I get unlimited streaming and movies by-mail, but I also get games, the ability to trade in the discs at a Blockbuster store, and a bunch of movie channels, all for less money. I think Netflix is going to have to do better than Lilyhammer to lure customers into subscribing based on exclusive content.

    1. I might have jumped the gun a little with my very favorable review of the pilot, because nothing has really made me want to revisit the show. I can’t imagine Netflix got any new subscribers with their debut of Lilyhammer. Even the new Fincher/Spacey series “House of Cards” debuting later this year, I can’t see a huge flock of people joining Netflix either. But I’m sure once they roll out the new episodes of “Arrested Development”, I would imagine a ton of new people will join. And I would also guess that Netflix would stagger the releases of each episode weekly, in hopes of people sticking with their service, and not just hitting it and quitting it. Thanks for the comment!

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