History Channel’s “Vikings” Review
Game of Thrones is considered by many to be one of the greatest TV shows ever made, and the viewing figures and reach of the franchise back this up. Not only do around 16 million people tune in live to watch each episode, there have even been console and slot games based on the HBO series. When Vikings hit the History Channel in 2013, some thought that the Michael Hirst creation was merely a cheap imitation of the Westeros-based epic. Now, though, the historically grounded saga is well regarded in its own right, and could one day even surpass Game of Thrones.
The Viking period has long been a popular piece of history, and there have been various documentaries and museums documenting their impressive exploits. Vikings, the TV series, takes everything we know about the Norse seafarers to the next level, and plunges the viewer deep into the action, blood, guts, and intrigue. The series focuses on the legendary Viking leader Ragnar Lothbrok, who is played quite exceptionably by Travis Fimmel. Fans of Game of Thrones may have been pulled into the show when seeking a fix of swords and violence during the long breaks between seasons of the HBO fantasy. But it’s the performances from the likes of Fimmel and co-star Katheryn Winnick, along with the exciting and fast-paced storytelling that kept these viewers coming back for more.
Now into its fifth season, Vikings has generated a score of 93 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. This is only slightly behind the HBO series, which earned 94 percent. The History Channel offering, which is also available to watch on Netflix, has managed to bring the Scandinavian raiders into mainstream culture, just as the Game of Thrones franchise has transcended the TV series. Just as there is a slot game from Microgaming based on Game of Thrones, there are now video slots like Viking Runecraft which incorporate Viking themes and look to attract viewers of the show. For console players, there is a Telltale Games series based on GoT which has received fairly positive reviews. And now there is a game for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One which has tapped into the popularity of Vikings, called Vikings: Wolves of Midgard.
It’s clear that Vikings has managed to hold its own and earn regard as a completely different offering to Game of Thrones. Now, the question is whether the historical epic can surpass its fantasy predecessor. There is a strong possibility of this happening, as there has been a lot of criticism of GoT since it moved past the timeline of the George RR. Martin books upon which it is based. For instance, A Song of Ice and Fire fans were appalled with the way the showrunners completely failed with the Dorne storyline.
Vikings has proven that it can shock viewers and dispatch of major characters at the same rate as GoT, and it remains fresh by bolting forwards in its timeline every so often. It has recently been renewed for a sixth season, and potentially could long outlast the HBO fantasy. One day, if it maintains the form it has shown up to now, it could easily be regarded as a better production than Game of Thrones.