Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lilyhammer


Scandi-TV has become such a staple of BBC4's output over the last two years that it's easy to forget that it began with a German series (Heimat), reaches its peak audience whenever a French 'flic flick' is screened (Spiral) and that the current Euro pin up is Italian (Montalbano).

We've had the Danes (The Killing and Borgen), we've had the Swedes (Wallander and The Bridge) now it's the chance of those crazy Norwegians to prove to us Brits that their contribution to pan-European television extends before dead parrots and slightly effeminate chain saw operatives.

Well the latest offering from Europe has arrived on our screens and  I have to admit that I have been waiting for this to arrive on our screens for at least six months, since a kind member of the European cultural exchange programme decided to post a series of trailers on a certain well known Internet video channel. Steve Van Zandt (or Little Stevie if you are a fan of Broooooce!) plays Frank "The Fixer" Tagliano, a man who apparently is the safest man in New York, or at least he is until he upsets a member of a rival firm at a funeral and a shoot out in a bar, which results in the death of Frank's Scottie Lily (the name of the series is a play on words), leads eventually to a relocation under the witness protection programme from the USA to Norway. Frank explains to the 'Feds' that he wants to go to Lillehammer because he saw it on TV when it hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics, "fresh air and clean snow," are the main attractions.

On the train to Lillehammer Frank witnesses some anti-social behaviour from two youths who play their music loud and take a hat off an elderly gentleman who is sat in front of them and across the aisle from Frank, having followed one into the toilet manages to pesuade him of the error of his ways. Frank arrives in Lillehammer and is driven to his new house by a taxi driver who tells him that he was drunk for a year after the winter olympics. In his new abode he opens the frezzer and finds a pizza box, he removes the pizza and stuffs the box full of money, some of which he will later use to try and bribe a local employment office official (the initial attempt is a failure but later on, after some good honest blackmail involving a set of photographs of the official naked with several naked females, he succeeds), he place an urn with a photograph of the departed Lily on the table in the kitchen.

The concept of a fish out of water is not a new one but the twist in the first episode is that for all the cultural differences (sheep on the road, the shooting of sheep savaging wolves being illegal, the bribery of Government officials being a no-no) Frank has merely exported his charm and bad habits to another part of the world. When his female neighbour, and local chief of police, informs Frank and his new drinking buddies (two of whom are brothers), that they cannot hunt the wolf that has killed the sheep belonging to a girl Frank has his eyes on Frank returns to his house smashs the urn carrying Lily's ashes and takes the hidden revolver out on a hunting trip.

Frank and two brothers embark on a night hunting trip and when they return to town they are met by two police officers and a witness who claims he saw the three of them hunting a wolf. The police officers are about to make an arrest when Frank lifts his fur hunting hat slowly and in doing so causes the elderly witness to recognise him as the passenger on the train who had taught the youths a lesson. "I was mistaken" says the old guy much to the disbelief of the chief of police, "Must have been some youths from Oslo," proving that each country or region always has somebody that can blame anything on.

Steve Van Zandt is quite a presence on screen, with his solid features and square build he looks every inch the former mobster rather than a rock guitarist playing a tv character, he looks comfortable in his chunky sweater. The first episode had charm, a few plot holes for sure but was nevertheless an enjoyable forty five minutes.

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