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Friday Reads: Meet the The Almighty Johnsons

Not a Friday Read so much as a Must-See Weekend Watch, The Almighty Johnsons has become my guilty TV pleasure. And it is *wonderful*.

Created by James Griffin and Rachel Lang, produced by South Pacific Pictures, The Almighty Johnsons is a light, smart, funny and altogether brilliant New Zealand creation. We pick up the story, in the first season, with Axl Johnson’s 21st birthday. His brothers take him out into the woods for a ‘family thing’ and make him stand, naked, in a circle of stones holding a hammer up to the skies – it’s a fantastic practical joke, right up until the hammer is hit by lightning and Axl discovers his family are all reincarnations of the Norse gods. As the reincarnation of Odin, prophecy dictates he must find the goddess Frigg in order to restore the gods to their full powers.

We’re set up for a proper godly quest (four chaps, much beer, all of New Zealand to search and one goddess to find. What could possibly go wrong? Especially with a three fabulous goddesses on their own quest to muddy the waters, and find Frigg first) – but this series has its feet on the ground, and a fabulous sense of humour. So Axl is the reincarnation of Odin . . . but the second the lightning strike has done its godly work he’s back to being a kid brother in the forest on his 21st birthday, and his big brothers have all of his clothes.

There’s a great cast bringing diverse and complimentary characters to life, some nifty plotting, and a lightness of touch that makes the jokes fly. The ten episodes of Season 1 are an absolute joy (catch them on the SyFy channel) – and I recommend watching with a cold beer in hand.

Watch out for: Dean O’Gorman, playing Anders, who is cast as Fili in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit.