I watched, and was captivated, by the show’s first season, not knowing if it would return for a second. It was originally only to be a mini-series. Apparently, it was so well received by critics and viewers, it has been renewed for a 10 episode second season.
The series was developed, and is co-produced by the Irish company Octagon Films, and Canada’s Take 5 Productions (which launched in 2009, and also co-produces such shows as The Tudors, The Borgias, Reign and others.)
It began filming at Ashford Studios, in Ireland, the longship scenes were filmed at Luggala, while some background shots were done in Norway
There has been some criticism concerning the historic accuracy of it’s portrayal of Viking society, especially citing the ruling ‘government’ and laws, as well as apparel. The Aftenposten, a Norwegian newspaper, reported that ‘the series incorrectly depicted the temple at Uppsala as a stave church in the mountains, whereas the historical temple was situated on flat land and stave churches were a hallmark of later Christian architecture in Scandinavia’, but many critics fail to realize liberties are generally taken when something is presented solely as entertainment, and not as a documentary.
Furthermore, since Norse sagas were, in part, orally handed-down tales, enhanced with fiction, and written down many years after the events, it is questionable, as with most history in general, how much is truth and what is fabricated or propaganda.
Rods need to be removed, and critics need to lighten up.
I found the show quite graphic, and not for the faint of heart. The Vikings, being a very fierce and formidable enemy of….just about everyone, are portrayed vividly in this drama. There is, accordingly, much warfare, slaughter, bloodshed, raiding, pillaging, and the taking of slaves but, there is also the communal life of the Vikings themselves.
The story begins in the year 793 and is based primarily on the main character, Ragnar Lothbrok (loosely based on the legendary 13th century saga of Ragnar Loðbrókar, known as the ‘scourge of France and England’. It is not clear if he was an actual individual, or a culmination of several Chieftans, similar to the legends of King Arthur) the relationships between him, his brother Rollo, his family, village, ‘religious’ beliefs and explorations.
With the creation of a faster longship, built by Ragnar’s friend, Floki, their desire to explore farther afield, to lands of the West, was fulfilled.
In season one they raid Northern England (Lindisfarne, for example, which has been historically recorded as factual.)
Land disputes and fighting amongst themselves, helps fuel the need to seek new horizons.
A poignant quote from last weeks episode by Ragnar to his son, Bjorn- ‘I know it is hard for you to accept, but unhappiness is more common than happiness. Who told you you should be happy? You have come to an age where you must grow up and be responsible about such things. When I was your age, I had many friends. All are dead.’
You can find more information and watch videos/clips HERE.
A free comic book written by Michael Hirst (writer and original creator of the show), with interior artwork by Dennis Calero, cover by Anthony Spay (+others for the colour and inking), was distributed at the 2013 San Diego ComicCon.
It was written as a prequel to the show itself, focusing on Ragnar and Rollo’s relationship with their father, as well as Ragnar’s first encounter with the sheild maiden, Lagertha, later to become his wife (also part of the legendary Norse saga of Ragnar Loðbrókar.)
From what I’ve read, trading cards were created as well.