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TV to watch 2013/2014: Netflix's 'Lilyhammer' season 2 is gold

By April Neale Dec 15, 2013, 3:13 GMT

TV to watch 2013/2014: Netflix's 'Lilyhammer' season 2 is gold

TV to watch 2013/2014: Netflix\'s \'Lilyhammer\' season 2 is gold

One to watch 2013/2014: Netflix's Lilyhammer

Making our year-end list for best TV series is Netflix's exceptionally funny "Lilyhammer," the ultimate fish out of water tale where a New York mafia boss, played by Steven Van Zandt, moves to Lillehammer Norway as part of a witness protection program.

The New Yorker quickly runs into a series of cultural conflicts in the small Norwegian town Lillehammer that hosted the popular Winter Olympics in 1994. He learns the lingo, and the series deftly does sub-titles and English back and forth so seemlessly you begin to think you understand Norwegian at the end of the show.

The script, which Van Zandt helped shape and write, also touches on the touchy subjects for Norwegians, immigration, city versus country people, racism and the socialistic and controlling nature of their infrastructure.

In season one, Van Zandt’s character Frank "The Fixer" Tagliano (Steven Van Zandt), a former underboss of New York's Italian Mafia, is put in the witness protection program after testifying in a trial in the United States.

He is intrigued by the town that hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics, Tagliano requests that he be relocated in Lillehammer, Norway. His new identity is Norwegian-American immigrant - Giovanni "Johnny" Henriksen.

Arrival in Lillehammer was not unnoticed. Americans, and those with egos the size of Texas like "Johnny," stick out like a sore thumb. In season one, we meet actor Fridtjov Såheim as the NAV worker Jan Johansen, who bristles at Johnny's attempted bribe to expedite some paperwork. By season 2, Jan is Johnny's right hand man cooking up revenue streams that aren't quite kosher.

Johnny spies a comely teacher, actress Marian Saastad Ottesen is cast as Sigrid Haugli, Johny's friend and love interest and her son, Jonas, whom he spotted on his first train journey to Lillehammer. Their romance has consequences, as she becomes pregnant after they spend the night together. She learns that she will have twins. Their relationship progresses throughout the series, but she is put off by his shady deals and long work hours. They end it in season one, but the new season sees Johnny very much a part of his twins' lives as she foists the kids on him, as its her turn to work in Oslo. At least he gets their names truncated to Bjorn and Bjorg from Asbjorn and Asbjorg. The covert maneuverings to "get rid of the "Ass"" prefix on the babies names' - via a man who owes Johnny a favor Godfather style- is hilarious.

Things at Johnny's club the Flamingo are cooking, but the new season sees trouble imported from the UK. Lillehammer's criminal underworld has gravitated towards Johnny, and a hideous yellow Ferrari is in real danger.

Johnny and his posse at the UK gangster showdown.

Johnny and his posse at the UK gangster showdown.


Make sure to catch the continued great work of actor Trond Fausa Aurvåg as Torgeir Lien, Johnny''s Godfather to his kids, friend and business partner, ostensibly. Torgeir is all good intentions and horrific follow through. He also has some unrealized feelings towards an African male cook who fortunately did a route to Norway through Sicily.

Torgeir and his Hat

Torgeir and his "Hat"


His cooking skills are so much to Johnny's liking, that Johnny offers him a job and full protection from deportation, much to Torgeir's growing discomfort. Their moments in season 2 are laugh out loud hilarious, as the "I ❤ Girls" baseball cap he wears in every scene is a physical prop that Torgeir clings to as his realization grows he may not, after all.

Alan Ford masquerades as Scotland Yard cop in S2

Alan Ford masquerades as Scotland Yard cop in S2


Alomg with Van Zandt's drop dead funny portrayal as Lillehammer's new Don of sorts, watch for great work by Steinar Sagen as Roar Lien, the local taxidriver; Torgeir's brother, especially with the British gangster invasion in season 2.  Also Sven Nordin as the lawyer Julius Backe, Anne Krigsvoll as the outgoing chief of police Laila Hovland, Mikael Aksnes-Pehrson as Sigrid's son Jonas Haugli, Tommy Karlsen Sandum as MC-Arne, Beate Eriksen as Arne's hot mother and Paul Kaye as Duncan Hammer, Pål Espen Kilstad as Trond (season 2), Erik Madsen (season 2), Amy Beth Hayes (season 2) lactaction sex freak Jakob Oftebro as swimming instructor (season 2) and especially the short but sweet appearance of Alan Ford (season 2), the British character actor who was BrickTop in Guy Ritchie's film "Snatch."

A third season of Lilyhammer is rumored to begin shooting in January.

The series films in Oslo and Lillehammer.

It's no surprise that Lilyhammer was a hit when it premiered in Norway in January 2012, drawing record numbers for network NRK1, and it was the first original series to launch on Netflix when it premiered via the streaming service in the U.S., Canada and Latin America in February

Season 2 continues this great yarn (with exceptional music too) as Zandt’s Johnny is juggling fatherhood with running (and expanding) his criminal operation. Added to the mix this season are a group of murderous English soccer hooligans and gangsters, a bank robbery that threatens to reveal Frank’s identity, and a vicious badass new female sheriff that tempts Torgeir in a moment of passion.

Lilyhammer was developed by Rubicon TV with Red Arrow on international sales. Showrunners are Eilif Skodvin and Anne Bjornstad; producer is Anders Tangen. Lasse Halberg exec produces with van Zandt.

Here's the best part: You can watch the whole season 2 in one sitting if you wish, no commercials, no waiting each week, and you can easily catch up with season one on Netflix.

Make every effort to see it.


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