is a Norwegian-American co-production that describes exactly what happens when The Mafia
meets Norse by Norsewest
. After the death of his boss
, New York
mobster Frank Tagliano
is betrayed by his new Capo and nearly killed (unfortunately, his dog is not so lucky
). Tired of the Mafia lifestyle
, Frank turns state's evidence and enters Witness Protection
. Deeming New York to be unsafe, Frank demands that the FBI send him to Lillehammer, whose beautiful surroundings he remembers from watching the 1994 Winter Olympics
on TV.Hilarity Ensues
as Frank takes the identity of "Giovanni Henriksen" and travels to Norway
. Things quickly turn out differently than poor Frank intended: the system treats him as an immigrant on par with any Middle Easterner or African refugee, he has weeks of courses to pass before he can gain citizenship, and the Feds "forgot" to set him up with a valid driver's license
. And on top on that, he ends up living next door to the local chief of police
. Faced with all this, Frank quickly gets up to his old tricks
to bend the sleepy, freezing town to his will...
Broadcast by NRK (the Norwegian equivalent of The BBC
) in Norway and available on Netflix
in the United States, Lilyhammer
is unabashedly and unashamedly The Sopranos in NORWAY!
alumn Steven Van Zandt
more or less plays an expy of Silvio Dante, and much of the comedy comes from watching him tackle the totally unfamiliar landscape of rural Norway. The series has turned out to be a huge success in Norway, while garnering ... slightly less attention in the US. The second season saw the inclusion of more (famous) American actors, as well as a few British ones. The third season was released in November 2014.
This series provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion: The obvious one: Steven van Zandt is a gangster who opens a nightclub.
- Anti-Hero: Frank, full stop. He's a career criminal who's using his talents to up-end a peaceful rural community, and we're cheering him on. Granted, he does toe the line of falling into full-time Villain Protagonist, but he's certainly Lighter and Softer than Tony Soprano.
- Apocalypse Cult: Torgeir and Roar's mother joined one based in Sweden with her Swedish lover for ten years, and they both when the foretold doomsday doesn't happen. They move in with the two brothers.
- Armored Closet Gay: Jerry Delucci is implied to be one.
- Artistic License – Law: In real life, toy guns are required by law in most countries to have some obvious way to show that they're a toy, and under Norwegian law, it's illegal to carry a realistic looking one. That makes the police commissioner's reactions to Geir stopping the marathon due to seeing Frank with a realistic-looking toy gun a rather large example of this trope, particularly considering the then-recent shooting and bombing.
- Badass: Duncan, the British gangster singlehandly lays almost every one of the Bikers on their asses and doesn't even flinch when a gun is pulled on him
- Bad Boss: Aldo Delucci, the mafia don rival to Frank.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: Torgeir and Roar's mother's boyfriend, in a spree of carnal abandonment after years of sexual repression in a cult, eventually ended it by having sex with a farmer's sheep.
- Bilingual Bonus:
- In the season 3 opener, the Lithuanian gangster has a tattoo with Asian characters that means "tiger." The episode's title is "Tiger Boy" and tigers are a recurring motif in the episode.
- Blackmail Backfire: Frank and Jan collect photographic evidence to blackmail an immigration officer for keeping an undocumented Filipino maid, only for them to find out that she's actually his adopted daughter.
- Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word: Subverted. Frank's original attempt to bribe a government employee is couched in euphemisms to avoid the word "bribe", but the official is outraged by the insult and threatens to call the cops. When Frank later obtains pictures of the official engaging in sex acts with underaged girls, however, he says that the situation is "definitely" blackmail.
- Bribe Backfire:
- Frank attempts to bribe Jan at the NAV office, only for Jan to threaten to phone the authorities. Frank has more success with Blackmail.
- The Bus Came Back: Minor characters who appeared in one or two episodes in the first two seasons return to the third season, like Svein the midwife and Per the repressed house husband. A more notable one is Laila Hovland, the former chief of police, who is now a detective for a private insurance company. Jan also took a very short bus ride to Iraq at the end of Season 2 and returns to Lillehammer in Season 3.
- Butt Monkey: Geir, Jan.
- Buy Them Off: Frank's modus operandi for dealing with anything.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Julius is the only main charcter of Season 1 not to return in Season 2.
- Cowboy Cop: Geir. Bonus points for being an Elvis Impersonator who spatters his speech with American cop lingo. Also, The Mafia kills him in Episode 5.
- Da Chief: This isn't exactly the way to describe Laila, the chief of police. Commissioner Østli, on the other hand...
- When he first meets Laila, Frank thinks she's working for the Postal Service.
- Deconstructor Fleet: To the entirety of Norwegian political correctness. Frank cheerfully punches his way through all manner government bureaucracy and social norms.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Uncle Sal tries to have a former friend assassinated... because that friend had published a cookbook using recipes that were his Nonna's!
- Dude, Not Funny!: The In-Universe reaction to Jan's lighthearted attempts at jokes ranges from generic apathy to this.
- Dumb Muscle: Arne, the biker turned bouncer and erstwhile babysitter for Frank.
- Epic Fail: Anything Geir sets out to do. Including trying to find the New York mob—it ends badly.
- The three British gangsters' attempt to execute Roar turn out to be this, as the "remote" location they keep picking is full of cross-country skiers.
- Face-Heel Turn: Roar, briefly, defects to Tommy's crew after Frank gets together with his Love Interest and has been kicked out of the house by Torgeir.
- Fan Disservice: Chris, Sigrid's new boyfriend, is quite handsome and charming... until you find out that he has a penchant fetish for breastfeeding. Taken Up to Eleven when he tries to surprise her in the bathtub naked... and the bath's full of milk. Even Sigrid is clearly frightened by this.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have: Torgeir's reaction to Arne's mother.
- Granola Girl: Some of the more liberal townsfolk and their lifestyle choices qualify.
- The Haukenes family from season 1, who had relocated from Oslo to pursue a simpler life on a farm. They son gives Jonas a back scratch "fashioned" from a small branch as a birthday present. Deconstructed, though, as they become quite unhappy and eventually sell their land to Frank after some intimidation.
- The Greenpeace protesters in season 3 who urge the government to free a beached whale rather than kill it.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Torgeir, on occasion. Even invoked with his signature hat, which says "I ♥ GIRLS."
- Heroic BSOD: Geir, after getting suspended.
- Idiot Houdini: Roar Lien, who in spite of being incredibly thickheaded, survived an attempted execution at the hands of some British gangsters and fights in a Brazilian prison while serving time for cocaine trafficking.
- Important Haircut: Played for Drama/Tragedy. Julius shaves off most of his newly converted Muslim son Olav's beard while he's asleep. When Olav wakes up, he runs away from home.
- Improvised Weapon: Torgeir uses a pair of knitting needles to kill Duncan the British ganster.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: "How did you know he was interested in Elvis?"
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Frank is this or just a Jerk Ass.
- Killing In Self Defense: In a reconciliation gone wrong, Sigrid ends up killing Chris in a hilarious/horrifying manner when the latter suddenly turns violent.
- Made of Iron: Roy. It's amazing how much physical abuse he suffers and ultimately overcomes.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In season 3, Torgeir has recurring visions of Duncan, the British gangster whom he killed with knitting needles, and for the longest time it isn't clear if it's All Just a Dream or Your Mind Makes It Real. Turns out Torgeir has had a blood clot in his brain which gets removed just in time before it became serious, although that doesn't explain the appearance of Terrence afterward...
- Meaningful Name:
- In-universe, Julius's son Olav takes the name Olav Abdulkarim to signify his conversion to Islam.
- When Jan returns from Iraq in Season 3, he has converted to Islam and has taken up the name Muhammad Ali. Of course, after he gets his old job back at NAV, he reverts to his birth name.
- The Nicknamer: Frank. Julius becomes Julie. Utsi [a Sami name] becomes Tootsie.
- Norse by Norsewest: Norway's politics and society are explored in all their baffling detail - to be tackled head-on by Frank.
- Out of Focus: Sigrid after her relationship with Frank doesn't work out, although in an interesting case, despite less screen time, there are more scenes where she is the focus rather than her relationship with Frank.
- Police Are Useless: Everyone except for Laila and her team, and even they're stretching it. So you've got a guy with possible terrorist connections at a marathon where the police commissioner and justice minister are competing, and he's holding a realistic looking toy gun in a country where that would both be illegal and where there had recently been a mass shooting. So what do you do to the officer that tackles him and delays the race? Suspend him, of course! So you've got two Americans in custody wanted for a variety of assaults, not to mention theft of petrol from a gas station where they'd surely have video surveillance footage of both them and the car they drive, so what do you do? Release them!
- Precision F-Strike: Frank does this all the time, but most impressively when it's revealed that Sigrid is pregnant with twins.
Frank: Oh, fuck me.
- Put on a Bus: Laila quits her job after becoming a author of crime fiction early in Season 2 and is not heard from again until Season 3, where she has taken up detective work for an insurance company.
- Reality Ensues:
- Most memorably when Frank tries to bribe his case worker to let him open a bar.
- Dag's Christmas tree transportation business doesn't take, so he crashes the car into a lake and tries to claim the insurance. The policeman and the insurance company investigate his claim and find evidence of fraud quite quickly.
- Sad Clown: Jan Johansen, full stop.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Frank in a nutshell.
- The Season 2 finale has several to The Sopranos:
- The episode opens with Torgeir singing Don't Stop Beliving for an audition.
- When in New York the guys put on the Sopranos theme song on the car stereo.
- The Sopranos actors Tony Sirico and Maureen van Zandt appears.
- Viswanathan uses the words Bada Bing as an expression.
- In one season 3 episode, an elderly man with dementia at the hospital calls Frank "Silvio."
- Turn in Your Badge: After inadvertently stopping the Minister of Justice from completing the Birkebeinerrittet ski race, Geir is put on a six month probation.
- Theme Twin Naming: Frank and Sigrid's children are christened Bjørg and Bjørn (instead of Asbjørg and Asbjørn, or what Frank called those names, Ass-bjorg and Ass-bjorn).
- Villain with Good Publicity: Frank, in the "criminal" sense.
- The War on Terror: Geir is wholly convinced that Frank is a wanted al-Qaeda terrorist.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Rosemary, the British gangster moll, disappears after she seduces and then induces an allergic reaction in the police officer who's sniffing too close on their trail.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Geir. If he were in a serious cop drama about terrorism, some of his earlier actions would be in the right, such as taking security at the race seriously and calling a code red when he saw Frank with the (toy) gun to keep the Minister of Justice away from the finish line.
- Your Days Are Numbered: Julius gets cancer. Then it turns out he jumped to conclusions based on some worrying signs - in fact, he's perfectly healthy.