Weekend watch: History's Vikings

Mar 1, 2013 at 3:37 p.m. ET

Prepare for lots of "Arrrrrghs" and "Braaaaghs"! Vikings is nothing if not violent.

Vikings Ragnar and Lagertha

In my house, everyone knows I don't watch "murder-y" shows. "Murder-y," though, doesn't mean there can't be bloody, horrific deaths. It just means they can't involve serial killers or sociopaths. Anything committed by aliens, centuries-old civilizations or angry family members is fair game. That's why I'm completely in love with the History Channel's new show Vikings... and why everyone else is appalled.

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The first episode, which premieres this Sunday, just barely touches on the violence that's usually connected to the Vikings and the Norse Dark Ages. But it promises much more ahead. If blood and guts aren't your thing, though, fret not. It's the History Channel. The show will also touch on the Nordic familial and friendly relationships among the characters. Plus, the first episode even hints at a little bit of Tudors-style between-the-bear-skin-blankets action. (At least, one can only hope History decides to take it to that level, right?!) In other words, Vikings has the makings of a show worthy of a Sunday on the couch with that bloodthirsty boyfriend or hubby or skin-thirsty BFF. There's a little somethin-somethin for everyone.

But what's it about?

Vikings' Floki

It's a pretty simple premise, actually. The main character is the rugged and hot Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), a mostly mild-tempered husband and father with an ambitious, warrior's heart who urges his earl/chieftain to press in new directions for new towns to pillage. (What? He's a Viking! They can only be so mild-mannered.) Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne) is stuck in his old-man ways, though, and refuses to embark on the new journey. Even the mention of a new destination puts Ragnar on Haraldson's sh*t list. With the help of his cool (but quite possibly skeezy) brother and his goofy, perhaps not-all-there BFF, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard), Ragnar will strike out west without the consent of his earl. But what will he find and what will await him upon his return?

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I love it... but don't expect too much. Despite its sometimes Game of Thrones-esque settings and cinematography, Vikings falls just shy of the complexities of the show written by an actual seasoned author. What it lacks in coyness, though, it makes up for with historical perspective. Vikings — though often seeming like a Nordic soap opera — takes impressive time to explore Norse religion and ideologies in a non-docu way.

It's not for everyone. But it's worth a try.

Vikings premieres Sunday, March 3 on the History Channel at 10/9c.

Images courtesy of the History Channel