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Monday, March 04, 2013

That Vikings TV Show On History Channel Is A Hit

Gabriel Byrne as Earl Haraldson in Vikings on the History Channel
is on the History Channel
like every night forever because
it's the biggest thing they've ever done.

  I don't write about TV on this blog but I  DO write about the history of the middle ages.  If there is a chance to talk about a popular television so about the Viking invasion of the British Isles then I am ALL IN.  The pitch for Vikings is "Boardwalk Empire, meets Sopranos, meets Game Of Thrones."  Starring Gabriel Byrne as Earl Haraldson and Travis Fimmel as the main protagonist Ragnar Lothbrok.

Travis Himmel as Ragnar Lothbrok: A Star is Born

  It's not a documentary- it's a television show that is seeking to emulate shows on other Cable channels- specifically the historical dramas that Showtime has favored and people don't watch: Spartacus?  Borgias? If anyone should be watching those shows it's me and I don't.  But there is something about Vikings, perhaps the fact that Gabriel Byrne is playing the Tony Soprano character or maybe it's the combination of Byrne with relative unknown Travis Himmel as main man Ragnar Lothbrok.

  It looks like that the action moves over to England which means there will be Anglo-Saxon English characters and Christian churches. One question I had watching the first episode was "When does Vikings take place?"  Which century, etc.  The main plot point in the first episode is that Gabriel Byrne doesn't believe that there is any land to the west at all.

  According to Peter Hunter Blair's An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England, " When the Icelandic historians of the 12th and 13th centuries wrote the history of the country where their ancestors had come to Iceland from the 9th century, they attributed the migration of Norwegians to their spirit of independence which made them unwilling to submit to the domination of Harold Fairhair... for some 50 years from c. 800 raiders came across the North Sea with the easterly winds of spring and returned home with their loot before the westerly gales of autumn."

  I think the part where Gabriel Byrne's chief literally doesn't believe in the existence of the west either means that part of it is fantasy or the story is set really, really "early" in the Middle Ages- maybe as early as 500 AD?  Earlier?  But I think they are trying to set it in  800 AD because the characters in England seem "English" and not "Anglo Saxon" I don't know I guess that will get cleared up.

  Maybe I will dust off the old copy of Peter Hunter Blair's An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England- sure to be in demand if Vikings becomes an equivalent in popularity to a Games Of Thrones.  You should give it a shot. I'm sure the first episode will be on every night this week or On Demand.


Anonymous said...

at the very beginning of ep.1, it says "Eastern Baltic, 793 AD."

Pearishe said...

I wonder if a historical mathematician or language scholar could comment on the use of the word "odds". It is used in more than one episode. Was the concept of "odds" known at this time?

Tammy Haley said...

here i am! 3.5 years late to the party, with severe GoT withdrawals...i decide to binge-watch "Vikings"...season one, episode four-so far, so good! really enjoying the christian-pagan cultural clashing...i like it!

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