The Almighty Johnsons 1.01 Review: “It’s a Kind of Birthday Present”

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The Almighty Johnsons was a good show. It has a generally ridiculous premise, as all fantasy and science fiction does if you think about it too much. These brothers (who vary too much in age to be normal brothers) are actually Norse gods who manifest their powers at the age of twenty-one. So, about twenty-five minutes in, and we are just getting to the good stuff. There have been a couple of interesting scenes that establish character, especially of the main family that the show will center around. There are many uses of their powers, all minor, but all enough to establish that they exist. Freezing a glass of wine and winning at stupid little games, for instance, might not be enough for some members of the fantasy community, but they definitely establish supernatural abilities of one kind or another. But we are only now getting to the point where the main character is realizing the truth about the world and about to receive his powers in an ancient ceremony.

By the end of the show, not much else has happened however, which is a bit of a letdown.  The show moves much faster during the first half than the second half.  I was really looking forward to seeing more of this world, but as far as a pilot episode can be concerned, I have rarely seen better.  It gave us tons of characters whose names I don’t really remember but who promise to return, and also gave us a few locations and, more important than names, gave us character personalities that I do remember.  They’re all a little bit clichéd, but that’s okay, as long as they include all of the different clichés that the genre depends on and execute the ideas well.  My one problem with the show so far is that there is no sign of even a token strong woman protagonist.  The strong women all appear to be antagonists.  The two good women we see are 1) a housewife trying to get pregnant, and 2) a flat mate with the main character who is also in love with him.  I don’t have problems with these characters being there.  I just wanted to see an active woman in the thick of the action on the side of good (and yes, I know that with four main characters already, that would be very hard to do for all sorts of reasons in a pilot episode).  The flat mate doesn’t even actively pursue her interests, just moping on the sidelines, which, however realistic, isn’t the best television.

Parts of the show may seem rather clichéd, but I’m enjoying it completely. The idea of the ceremony for instance. Of course it’s there. But it also seems completely natural in the world. The same goes for the cabal of women that seems to want to kill/defeat the brothers that are actually a bunch of Norse Gods and the female flat mate who desperately wants to sleep with the main character. The complete lack of special effects budget, so far, is not holding back the show like I thought it might have the potential to, and the acting is, while definitely not the best, far from terrible either. It doesn’t hurt that Norse gods did not use special powers nearly as much in their stories as, say, the Greek or Japanese gods.  They were far more likely to split your head open with a battleaxe or rip you apart with their bare hands than hit you with lightning or change their shape in a fit of pique. This show is definitely worth watching, at least for the next few episodes. By far the worst thing about watching this show will be the wooden and horrible writing in the advertisements for Dominion and Sharknado 2 that you see during it, and anybody willing to watch the Syfy Channel will just have to put up with those for now.

[Photo via Syfy]

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3 thoughts on “The Almighty Johnsons 1.01 Review: “It’s a Kind of Birthday Present”

  1. As someone who has seen the entire series, I can assure the author that the show progresses rather quickly and, yes, there are several strong protagonist women to come…….patience has never been a strong suit where American television viewers are concerned, they want everything NOW! The Almighty Johnson’s is a show best savored slowly, not as a wine but as a prank, a jest, a wonderfully quirky sideshow of freaks, geeks and gods. As I said, trust me, by episode 6, you’ll not only be hooked, you’ll be laughing, crying and perpetually pissed at…….nope, not telling, you’ll have to watch.

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