It seems that everyone’s getting into original programming and with Vikings; The History Channel has entered its own series into the fray. Granted, this is indicative of other shows like The Tudors, Reign and of course Game of Thrones, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t still be entertained. If you like your heroes tattooed, your women unwashed and clamor to hear the clashing of swords then this just might be your show. The first season is now in the books, so here’s a brief synopsis of what to expect.
With the promise of new land from the English, Ragnar leads his people to an uncertain fate on the shores of Wessex. King Ecbert has made many promises and it remains to be seen if he will keep them. But ever the restless wanderer, Ragnar is searching for something more… and he finds it in the mythical city of Paris. Rumored to be impenetrable to outside forces, Ragnar and his band of Norsemen must come together to break down its walls and cement the Vikings legend in history. The gripping family saga of Ragnar, Rollo, Lagertha and Bjorn continues as alliances and loyal friendships are questioned, faith is catechized and relationships are strained. Vikings tells the extraordinary tales of the lives and epic adventures of these warriors and portrays life in the Dark Ages, a world ruled by raiders and explorers, through the eyes of Viking society.
Video: How’s it look?
The episodes are presented in 1.78:1 AVD HD transfer and I found these to be clean and crisp. The image still looks sharp however, with solid detail and softness never proves to be a concern. The texture might seem a bit too crisp at times, but overall I have to say that for a series produced by the History Channel, I was pretty taken back. Still, while contrast remains stark and accurate through the entire season. The show looks great.
Audio: How’s it sound?
A DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is provided and while the show isn’t a popcorn action experience, it has a better sound design than you might think. The surrounds get some good presence and when the need arises, even some punches of power. It’s by no means a dull, reserved presentation. The music also amps up the audio a little, while dialogue remains the focus and no lines are lost in the shuffle. This is a potent, well designed soundtrack that handles the material quite well.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The Blu-ray offers up a few exclusives over the DVD version most notably with extended versions of all episodes.
The Guide to the Gods – An interactive exploration of the various Gods in Nordic mythological lore, which include: Odin, Thor, Loki, Frigg, Baldr, Hel, Freyja, Freyr and Njordr.
Athelstan’s Journal (Parts 1 and 2) – Provides insight into the character of “Athelstan,” as he seeks answers about his direction in life and seeking the honorable path.
Heavy is the Head – The Politics of King Ragnar’s Rule.
A City Under Siege – Creating and Attacking Paris.
Audio Commentary – “Born Again” and “Breaking Point” featuring Michael Hirst and Linus Roache who offer up their insights on the episodes.
The Bottom Line
Vikings continues to make a name for itself even with the juggernaut that is Game of Thrones. Granted the two aren’t that alike, but fans will appreciate this newest season. The A/V continue to deliver and the selection of supplements is fairly robust. The Blu-ray also gives us extended versions of all episodes, so there’s that…