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Watched both first series and wow! ... waiting for the next one :)
And, yes - I meant "amusing" as it is full with original and interesting Norwegian characters and loaded with comedy elements.
Humm, many will say the name of the real town is Lillehammer, but remember that the name of his dog was Lily - and then the picture is complete.
If you are after blood, whores, drugs and uber violence - these TV series are not probably for you - it is all about being what? hey - watch it!
Steven Van Zandt surprised me in this series. Sure he's doing what he does best as a mafioso character, but its nice to see him on the screen again and handled the lead role very well.
The show starts off pretty fast by Frank Tagliano (Steve Van Zandt) who's a New York Mobster, giving up his boss to the FBI. Within the first 20 minutes of the first episode he's relocated to Norway, more specifically, Lillehammer. This is due to the fact that he saw the Winter Olympics in '94 and decided it was a good place to start a new.
From there Frank has to adapt to Norwegian society which is proving to be quite the challenge. Public works officials like the good folk over at NAV aren't very helpful when it comes to adapting. Frank soon realizes that in order for him to succeed in Norway, he's going to have to resort to his old ways.
The show is funny, very funny. There are some things that seem a little thin, for example how fast he learns to understand Norwegian. Though he doesn't seem to understand a hundred percent of the time what people say (like the review before me implied). Other than that I think everyone who plays a part in this show does a great job. There's no reason why this show would deserve anything beneath a 8/10 rating.
And if you think I'm getting paid to say this: No, I'm not. But I thought the show deserved an honest review, and not a biased one. Give it a chance, I didn't think I'd be very funny but now I'm really looking forward to season two.
Anyone who watches the first episode will be hooked into watching all eight amazing episodes in one day. The show has its great funny points throughout all episodes, and a great story line with amazing talent from all the cast. Please Take sometime to watch this amazing first time production by Netflix.
Frank "The Fixer" Tagliano (Steven Van Zandt), a former member of the New York mob, is put in the witness protection program after testifying in a trial in the United States. Tagliano is relocated to Lillehammer in Norway as he was intrigued by the town when he saw television images of the 1994 Winter Olympics, and therefore chooses to start his new life, as Norwegian-American immigrant Giovanni Henriksen.
The only thing I see a problem is.., subtitles. I like it, but may turn off some viewers. So, if your not a foreign film watcher, or like to read, you will hate it. No, this is not a foreign film...just an example. The entire film is spoken in Norweign with atiny bit of English spoken. So be warn. Who knows you might like it, and learn a new language. It could happen. Overall, I love Steven Van Zandt is in this series..A+ job.
and to "eastcoastguyz" comment of 5 May 2012
"This is a spin-off from The Sopranos regardless if anyone wants to admit it or not. Same character with a different name. The show had promise but it's ruined by excessive subtitles that are totally uncalled for. In Norway they also speak English, so there is no need for the subtitles for a series that's target is the American audience"
The show is first and foremost targeted to a Norwegian audience. Netflix has become somewhat involved in season 2, but it is still targeted first and foremost to the Norwegian audience. The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation ( NRK ) has the first hand right to broadcast the series and decides how many seasons etc. Unless NRK decides to not want to continue with the show, that's how it is.
The series has been sold to over 130 countries world wide.
As for Language and subtitles ... It would be a silly series, if everyone were to speak English. English is not the main Language in Norway and while it no doubt would be comfortable for an English speaking audience, it would look and sound totally ridiculous in a series made from Norway. It would be unnatural. We live in the real world up here North ...
it nice that he makes good decision amount bad when it comes to helping out the right people. definitely looking forward to more episodes and worth watching a couple times.
The setting is very unique, the story may be predictable at times but over all still a great chapter series.
it does contain course language, some racial inappropriateness, nudity and other sensitive material for some viewers.
Some of the best moments in the Sopranos were the ironies. Lillyhammer turns the Mafia theme completely into a dark comedy. Some of the lines are ROTFL hilarious.
There is of course the fish out of water - wise-guy meets the Von Trapp Singers - culture conflict element. This is not done to advance a political view, though some Americans not used to European viewpoints might not see it that way. In any case the juxtaposition of values is used to good comic effect.
I just wonder how long they can keep this up - most of the easy laughs are gone and the plotting last couple of episodes were pretty weak, even for a parody.
Still this streamed series is a lot of fun and better than much of the scripted TV nowadays.
I'm still waiting for Johnny to try lutefisk...
Imagine a cross between Al Pacino and Archie Bunker and you have a fair understanding of the main character, Frank Tagliano (Steven Van Zandt)--a mobster who turns state's evidence and goes into the Witness Protection Program in, of all places, Norway. This is a fish-out-of-water story that gives Frank plenty of cultural differences to deal with. He is a guy who leads with his fists inserted into a pacifist environment.
Before he leaves the states, he is warned that if he gets in trouble with the law in Norway, he is on his own. So we know up-front, that this story can go either of two ways. In Lillehammer, Frank deals with an eccentric cast of characters and the viewer never knows which direction the story will take. The series finds humor in the most interesting places.
Much of the humor has an agenda. It takes a playful jab at anti-terrorist paranoia, for example. Bureaucracy is often the target.
The scenery is beautiful. The music is eclectic and very enjoyable. The cast does a good job with the multi-cultural narrative. The dialogue is in both English and Norwegian, but subtitles are used and it is never difficult to understand what is happening.
There are unmistakable reminders of Fargo. And the quirkiness of the locals might remind you of Local Hero (a great film to emulate). Frank's approach to "justice" is reminiscent of Walking Tall or Death Wish or the other vigilante movies.
I am midway through the second season and enjoying the ride very much. I do not recommend the series to anyone squeamish about violence or raw language. For anyone else, I highly recommend Lilyhammer.
The story is simple and gets going fast: New York mafia guy rats out his 'family' to the FBI and is entered into the witness program. Instead of choosing to go somewhere in the US (or somewhere sunny), he goes to Norway after having fond memories of the 94 Winter Olympics. As you can imagine there's quite a clash of cultures between the entrepreneurial and direct American and the quite, socialist and subdued Norwegian culture. Add some romance, crime and friendships and you've got a great little story.
Don't be fooled by the presence of Steven Van Zandt from Sopranos. This is a satire/comedy made by the Norwegian TV channel NRK and aimed at Norwegians. A lot of the show is about the absurdities of a politically correct Norwegian bureaucracy and Norwegian culture in general. The American as an outsider, becomes the character who does and say the things many Norwegians wish they could do or say. Very funny, particularly if you know anything about Scandinavian culture already. Americans and others will be able to enjoy it anyway, since the show has some good performances from the acting cast and clever script. And of course, the gorgeous Norwegian countryside.
If you find yourself entertained and amused at Lilyhammer, check out the mockumentary 'Troll Hunters' also available on Netflix.
Van Zant as "The Fixer" becomes a witness and as a result ends up having to eschew his former life in the witness protection program. His choice for "getting lost" is the Norwegian town of Lillehammer based on his remembrances of the 1994 Olympics revelation of the quaint and picturesque town. Never mind that Norway is a country that thrives on strict laws and regulations which extend to a certain attitude toward immigrants. The fact that it is "out of the way", has gobs of charm, is populated with, he believes, open minded and beautiful women, well Lillehammer is perfect.
As soon as he arrives he is a fish out of water as he lives meagerly next door to the town's female chief of police. Comically, at least initially upon plopping down, he drives around in the polar opposite of the standard mob issue luxo-boat car. Frank Tagliano's world may be under the radar to would-be "whackers", but it is akin to him landing on Venus and that's a huge part of the fun.
The entire characters who soon revolve in Frank's new life are Norwegian actors/actresses (after all this is actually made for Norwegians). It is a credit to the talent of those people, plus the writers, that as an American viewer they were quite likable. Of course trouble ensues, but Frank has a kind of "bulletproof and 10-foot tall" way about him that easily manages to keep him above water and flush. A guys got to work and for an ex-mob guy what is more natural than owning a bar in a staggering cold place where people stay inside and drink a lot. Oh yeah, put a name implying an escape from the cold on the bar too - The Flamingo Bar.
I won't go into all the characters, but Frank's flunky partner is quite lovable, kind of like a Norwegian new-millennium Barney Fife. The female police chief has a soft soul. The immigration integration guy bumbles and is soon under Frank's thumb. And there is even a love interest for Frank, a woman who is attractive enough, but is even more sweet and unquestioning - U.S. viewers will connect with all of these quite nicely.
In the eight episodes (a very compact season) we see Frank use his muscle and smarts to get into trouble and evade it as his stock in town rises,. It's all done with a non and a wink as nothing is overly heavy, even when there's a couple of murders. Simply put, Lilyhammer doesn't over-reach as it puts a smile on the viewer's face. As already stated, at least for American viewers, the main reason is Steven Van Zandt's Frank Tagliano, however, the rest of the cast fits extremely well for the icing on the cake. Interesting, the show debuted to the largest TV audience for a Norwegian TV show ever and kept it up for it's first season's quick run. Watch it and you may just find yourself looking forward to season two.
As a non-Norwegian who has lived in Norway for many years and who has embraced the culture, I regard this series as a true masterpiece. Rarely do the Norwegians get a chance to parody themselves on what is, effectively, an international stage. I cannot fault this series on any level. The script is magic. The wealth of acting talent is breathtaking. The constant clash of two virtually diametrically opposed cultures is unnerving in the extreme.
I suspect that some Norwegians find it hard to look into such a dazzling mirror reflection of their own society's stereotypes. That's not the Norway they want the world to see.
But fear not. The international audience that lies beyond Norway's borders seems to have taken Lillyhammer to heart. And rightly so.
Because it's a real gem!
This show has been tagged in Norwegian media as a Sopranos set in Norway, owning to the star of the show, Steven Van Zandt, also known as the legendary "Silvio" in Sopranos. But to even compare this show to Sopranos is just wrong. If that's what you are expecting you're in for a huge disappointment. This is not Sopranos, and to be fair, it doesn't try to be. Whereas Sopranos was a television epic with intelligent character development and a subtle script, this is a light- hearted comical approach to the Mafia and culture differences. And this is also a part of the show's problem. It tries to be funny, but in many instances it goes too far. Although the show has some exceptionally funny scenes, it's also filled with cheap slapstick humour and some very two-dimensional characters that are there to offer comical relief. The foolishness of these characters is almost on Disney level and it somewhat destroys immersion. The idea is great and the scriptwriters have come up with tons of brilliant ideas for what a New York gangster would find strange in Norwegian society, but for every great scene there is an equally stupid scene.
If the show had been more disciplined with it's search for comical situations, it could have acquired a cult following. Instead you sit back with very mixed feelings. As stated earlier, you are offered a mix of some very intelligent black humour, and some scenes that just make you cringe with embarrassment. None the less, this is an original idea and the entertainment value still makes it worthwhile. Some of the characters are lovable and the general storyline keeps you watching.
Frank Tagliano is a narcissistic, hypocritical bully, who pushes his culture and ideas of how the world should be onto everyone in his newly adopted country, stepping on hapless and sometimes innocent Norwegians for selfish gain in stereotypical American imperialist fashion. However, unlike The Sopranos, in which Tony Soprano constantly struggled with his conscience, this show glorifies Frank. I feel like I'm supposed to chuckle as he "outsmarts" (more like strong-arms) people into satisfying his every whim.
Fortunately, in the second and third seasons, Frank became a little more judicious and tolerable, while other characters, such as Fausa's Torgeir, flourish. In my opinion, Fausa carries the show. He is charismatic, funny, humble, and tough when he needs to be. He idolizes Frank, even though he is often unrewarded for his unconditional love. Most importantly, he is the conscience of the show, and through him, we are reminded of the price one pays for being or following Frankie the Fixer.
By the way, world, look out for Maria Joana and Ida Elise Broch. You might fall in love.
Can't wait for season 3.
While the Silvio character didn't apparently survive, Stevie Van Zandt keeps him alive in a solid Netflix series, "Lillyhammer" playing Frank Tagliano, a mobster who goes into the FBI witness protection program. It becomes a classic fish out of water story as Frankie adapts from the NY underworld to living in Norway, which seems to be the most PC place on the planet, excepting most American college campuses.
Obviously, Van Zandt loved playing Sil, as he plays Frank (who becomes Giovanni "Johnny" Hendrikson in his new identity) exactly as he played Sil. He had the character nailed. He decides on Norway because he thought the place looked inviting after watching the 94 Winter Olympics on TV. Frank is able to go there and pretty much take over the town, owning the hottest club in town, running various scams as he manages to assemble his own crew and teach them how to intimidate and control the locals. It's all pretty much done in a light hearted and mostly comedic way. Frank also falls in (and out)of love with a local, fathering twins and in general endearing himself to most of the locals. There is violence as Frank's crew runs into rivalries with Russian and Arab mobsters, plus the NY mafia eventually finds where he has relocated. Also some funny references dropped to Soprano life during the series if you were a Soprano fan you should like this.
As an actor Van Zandt has two, maybe three, moves and expressions; his hairpiece is architectural, rather like the prow of an aircraft carrier, but here he has the presence and authenticity to carry it with the voice and manner. Playing opposite him are a solid troupe of Norwegian actors who add and make him look good as they are all professional.
With the landscape, the none too clever crew, the many episodes touching on Norwegian folk culture, the often absurd nature of what is happening; it's almost as if 'Fargo' went back to the old country and really told a crime story as it should be.
Kick back and enjoy.