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.