TV Review: Syfy’s ‘The Almighty Johnsons’

The Almighty Johnsons TV Review SYFY

Occasionally, a lack of resources breeds ingenuity, and so it is with “The Almighty Johnsons,” a Syfy import from New Zealand. The out-there premise — four brothers, each of whom, upon his 21st birthday, acquires the powers of a different Norse god — yields fewer pyrotechnics than one might expect, but creates intriguing discussion about the show’s peculiar backstory. Decidedly different content standards between American and Kiwi censors (there’s some obscured nudity and a lot of bleeped-out expletives) creates a bit of awkwardness, but here, that’s a quibble. While it’s popular for series to talk about their mythology, not many revel in the process with quite as much gusto as this one.

The introduction to this Asgardian birthright comes through Axl (Emmett Couling Skilton), who is just celebrating his 21st birthday. In the midst of his party, however, he’s dragged away from the friend who constantly looks longingly at him (“Whale Rider’s” Keisha Castle-Hughes, all grown up) by his three brothers, who fill in the disbelieving lad on the family legacy.

Not only do they each have unusual powers — diminished, admittedly, from what they once were — but Axl might be the reincarnation of Odin, which has enormous consequences. Simply put, he can either unite the gods and restore them to their lost glory, or, if he fails to achieve his destiny, lead to all of their deaths.

Written by James Griffin and directed by Mark Beesley, “Almighty Johnsons” contains only the smallest dollops of special effects, as the premiere relies on the characters talking about what might happen. Indeed, big brother Mike (Tim Balme) helps convince Axl — skeptical at first, but increasingly excited at the possibilities — by playing rock-paper-scissors, which, thanks to his god-like powers, he never loses. It’s about as low-tech a demonstration of magic as one could conceive.

And yet, it’s all strangely compelling and fun, if still a little half-baked, including what’s motivating the rival group apparently determined to prevent Axl from completing his mission by trying to kill the poor kid off.

Syfy has built international acquisitions of programs that fit its brand into the network’s programming — much of it from Canada, such as “Lost Girl” and “Continuum” — with mixed results.

By that measure, this Kiwi extract is certainly a cut above. And while the feeling isn’t quite like being struck by Thor’s proverbial thunderbolt, for a hardy few who don’t mind their gods in street clothes, it will be easy to develop a pretty sizable crush on “The Almighty Johnsons.”

TV Review: Syfy's 'The Almighty Johnsons'

(Series; Syfy, Fri. July 11, 10 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in New Zealand by South Pacific Pictures.

Crew

Executive producers, James Griffin, Rachel Lang, Chris Bailey, John Barnett, Rachel Jean; producer, Simon Bennett; director, Mark Beesley; writer, Griffin; camera, Marty Smith; production designer, Clayton Ercolano; editor, Bryan Shaw; music, Victoria Kelly, Sean Donnelly; casting, Annabel Lomas. 60 MIN.

Cast

Dean O’Gorman, Emmett Couling Skilton, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Tim Balme, Ben Barrington, Jared Turner, Roz Turnball

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  1. kris says:

    are the norse gods afraid to show alittle frontal attraction unlike the goddess…

  2. Pauline W. says:

    Hey all, I`m from the good ole USA and really enjoyed this show. Loved the episodes and it was better than this sh** they show on so-called reality shows, They keep garbage on TV and cancel these great shows. It was doing quite well on SyFy, so don`t understand why it was cancelled. But here it is at the end of 2015 and nothing being said about any more episodes, so don`t think that is going to happen, such a shame. But that`s the assho*** in charge. They couldn`t see a good thing if it was pasted in front of them and we the viewers/fans have to suffer.

  3. Bambi Preston says:

    My husband and I just finished Season 3 on Netflix.
    I was dissapointed to find out it was canceled.
    Olaf was my favorite. The last episode was amazing but had lots of unanswered questions. …
    may be there could be a new season in the future or a spin off???

  4. dragonbreath says:

    Too many answered questions! Great series though!

  5. Tina says:

    I do not usually watch television. I am a very busy individual and dont have time. I made time for this show. This is the most original and entertaining show i have ever watched. Please make a season 4. The cast os impecable the story is unique and the entrainment factor is immeasurable. This is a must. Create a new season. I have many, many questions…..but what was that red jewel loki through on the marriage altar. It’s driving my mortal mind inane.

  6. Colleen says:

    Yes!………..PLEASE do more seasons.

  7. Brenda says:

    I love this show! Please do more seasons!

  8. ann mcgee says:

    Loved this show. To bad South Pacific was not smart enough to bring this show to its proper end. But, like most studio heads and producers here in the United States, NZ also have idiots running their studios as well. Stupid people are ruining good TV. I loved the entire cast of “The Almighty Johnsons” and storyline. Loved that the show came from NZ, with the funny acents and all. Very disappointed that there were only 3 seasons of this very charming fun family show made. And I agree i would have loved it uncensored. Put the show back on!

  9. christine says:

    This is a highly entertaining show. I love the premise and the story line Axl is played perfectly! Keep it running SCYFY!!!!!

  10. GARBAGE show. I know my instincts and I LOVE shall we say “British TV”. Sorry but
    watched this one once and it just struck me as trying WAY TOO HARD. I felt….hey look the US likes those accents….lets throw this show at them!!…..not cool, not even a well structured show, there is much better out there.

    • ann mcgee says:

      Problem is small minded people think they know it all. Can’t take your opinion seriously, you only watched one episode.

  11. Cody says:

    The show was good but could have been better without the censoring. If something is listed for mature audiences it shouldn’t have bleeped out words or blurred images it defeats the purpose of the “mature” rating, might as well list it as pg.

  12. helen says:

    just finished watching the first episode and think the show will definitely be a keeper–really enjoyable

  13. SweetStout says:

    I totally agree with KiwiBuggys comments. Im from the UK and feel as long as the show is on after a certain time of night, in the UK we call it the ‘watershed’ it shouldnt offend anyone. If you dont like it turn it off but I bet you wont!

  14. KiwiBuggy says:

    Being from NZ & having watched the show from the 2nd episode onwards (lack of advertising & a stupidly late time slot caused that) I guess I am one of very few who felt that 3 seasons was enough. It didn’t “jump the shark” or fuzz out. The story arc came to a good conclusion, too. Sure, they could’ve kept going, but what sort of quality of story/script/additional actors would they have gotten? I’d rather have it end after 3 great seasons than go on & on & get worse as it goes.

    It was shown in New Zealand at a very late time slot originally. Such a shame, too, because it was such a good show & could’ve picked up a lot more original viewers.

    Sorry to hear about all the censoring some international viewers are having to deal with. Contrary to what some commenters have said – NZ does have censoring, but as a Country we’ve admitted that those who are awake after 8pm week days are adult enough to handle cussing and nudity, especially if we add a warning at the start of the program. It would be interesting to see what gets edited out.

  15. I watched this show online a while back and it was great. I highly doubt SYFY will do it justice as the New Zealand show is quite graphic and they do not sensor there. Should be interesting.

  16. This is one of the most original shows ever produced. Funny, sad, serious and offensive…..all in good measure. The relationships feel real, especially when the boys bicker amongst themselves. And Olaf, Oh My Gods! he’s just so perfect. The American audience is in for a real treat. It’s a shame about the censoring though, here in Canada, it was shown ‘as is’ on regular cable. So worth watching.

  17. melanie says:

    I love this show!! Such a unique, clever and fun show! I hope it finds an audience in the U.S. I would love to see more of this – 3 seasons isn’t enough of the Johnson brothers.

  18. M Mullen says:

    Simply delightful, funny, imaginative and smart – not one bad episode…..hopefully this will lead to a new series!!

  19. Wayne Perry says:

    Was a great show. Loved every episode. It would be an interesting twist if they decided to resurrect it, with the gods having moved on.

  20. drjuliebug says:

    Is it true that in New Zealand, TAJ was shown in an unfavorable time slot? (Much like Community vs. The Big Bang Theory here in the US.) It certainly had devoted followings in Canada, the UK, and several other countries. And there has always been a cult following of “early adopters” here. I’m one of those who actually bought the DVDs from overseas.

    Hoping the show takes off here. It really is marvelously written and endearingly quirky. Check it out!

  21. Yeah I still don’t understand why if the show is popular enough to be picked up by SyFy, why they would cancel it after the third season. I do hope either SyFy or someone else will pick it up for more seasons and keep it going.

  22. Marilyn says:

    Obviously based on the first episode, just wait for it. I’ve watched all the shows, the writing is phenomenal and the actors are fantastic. These characters will worm their way into your heart and you’ll be rooting for them all in no time. Very hopeful that the American people fall as hard as I have and they bring the show back for more episodes!

  23. Wayne says:

    Fantastic show, not blown away by loads of magic just a subtle hint every so often. Could have got a couple more seasons but it left with a bang and viewers wanting much more, not many shows have done this. One of my all time favourite shows!!

  24. A great show, runs for three seasons and being a Kiwi living in Australia, as I think most of us do now, held my breath for each episode, and like many good series comes to an end at it’s height, not thrashed year after year as some popular shows are. A great watch for the 3 years it runs.. I have many friends in the US from when I worked over there, i am sure they will all enjoy it.

  25. Larna says:

    best show ever.. im so hoping they make a new season… i want to know what happens and unreal actors.

  26. Karen says:

    Fantastic show. Would love to see the series continue.

  27. Manda says:

    I am gutted they cancelled this. Awesome show!! Bring it back!

  28. Melanie says:

    Honestly, this series goes from strength to strength. It’s dramatic, funny and quirky. I’m gutted that after three series it finished. But keep watching – it’s great fun.

  29. Brilliant series: quirky, original, fun – everything that isn’t TV big budget yawnoramas. Check it out. You won’t be disappointed.

  30. Seen it. Loved it. Crushed that it’s over….

  31. well worth the watch. as far as this Aussie is concerned one of the best scifi shows to hit the small screen for years.

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