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If you imagine conventional broadcasters as the monks of eight-century Lindisfarne, then this show represents the full barbarian invasion from online streaming services after Netflix’s exploratory forays of the past few months, as a new player enters the game.
LoveFilm’s first UK premiere is a post-‘Game of Thrones’ affair featuring revenge sex, grudges, betrayal and hirsute swordplay. (And that’s just the women, etc, etc.) Former model Travis Fimmel is ambitious, inventive Viking warrior Ragnar, whose dreams of sailing west over the open sea are repeatedly crushed by tyrannical tribal leader Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne), who prefers to keep the kingdom’s boundaries as tight as his grip on power.
The plotting and characterisation are simple going on simplistic, but business picks up as Ragnar takes the boys off to northeast England in episode two, and the whole thing has a drive and seriousness of purpose missing from creator Michael Hirst’s previous project ‘The Tudors’. This might be one to snack on from time to time, but gorgers and pillagers will be pleased to note that, as with many Netflix shows, the whole nine-part series is landing at once.