‘Lilyhammer’ draws high ratings and mixed reviews

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Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) scored another round of high ratings when it aired the first episode of the new season of the hit TV show “Lilyhammer” on Wednesday. Public reaction was decidedly mixed, though, with some viewers finding the show more violent and less funny.

US actor and musician Steven Van Zandt is back in action on Norwegian TV, in the second season of NRK's hit show "Lilyhammer." PHOTO: NRK

US actor and musician Steven Van Zandt is back in action on Norwegian TV, in the second season of NRK’s hit show “Lilyhammer.” PHOTO: NRK

NRK reported that 922,000 viewers tuned in on Wednesday, quite a lot in a country of just 5 million people. “Lilyhammer,” whose star Steven Van Zandt has had more influence on its content and production this season, ranked as the most-seen show on Norwegian television channels Wednesday evening.

The statistics also showed that fully half of everyone watching TV in Norway Wednesday evening tuned in to “Lilyhammer,” which has been a co-production of NRK, Netflix and Rubicon. The show also ranks as NRK’s most internationally successful production ever, and has been sold to other broadcasters in more than 130 countries.

Individual viewer reaction was mixed, though, with some complaining that it featured much more swearing, more violence and was not suitable for children. An estimated 46,000 of viewers watching the first episode of the new season, though, were said to be between the ages of 12 and 19.

An NRK reporter walked down the main street of the Norwegian city where the show is set, Lillehammer, to conduct so-called “man on the street” interviews to gauge reaction. “I’m uncertain whether I’m going to share the show with the kids, to put it that way,” one man told NRK. Another woman seemed to agree, calling the show “on the borderline this season, language-wise.” It features several Norwegian characters who now have been corrupted by Van Zandt’s character, a former New York mafia boss relocated to Lillehammer as part of a witness protection program, and adopted his swearing style.

Another woman thought a long time before responding to a question about which scene from the show made a particular impression, but then she pointed to a wild car ride over the Vignes Bridge to Lillehammer, which ends abruptly in a collision with a moose. Such collisions are fairly common in Norway, and often fatal for the moose and the motorist, but the three men out joyriding in a Ferrari miraculously survived, seemingly without a scratch, only to be met with violent consequences later.

It was the higher level of violence in the show that seemed to surprise Norwegian viewers, since it’s still billed as a comedy. This season, there was perhaps more wincing than laughing among viewers, with not so subtle hints that more brutal fights involving very bad guys loom in future episodes.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund