Pistvakt was a Swedish comedy TV series. Originating as a stage play set up in 1996, it only ran for two six-episode seasons in 1998 and 2000, with a movie being made to wrap up the story in 2005. While no other film or TV media have been produced since, the setting and characters have often been revisited in the form of stage shows, and the TV series remains something of a cult classic.
The show is about the three Marklund brothers, the oldest, Sven-Erik, or "Sven-E" (played by Lennart Jähkel), the middle brother, Jan-Erik, or "Jan-E" (Jacob Nordenson), and the youngest, Olle (Thomas Norström), who work as piste watchmen at a modest, seldom visited ski resort in Svartlien, a fictional Lapland location described as "the darkest piste-marked bear cave and icy pit in the North". The place was previously overseen by their father, the legendary piste watchman Erik "Stor-Erik" Marklund. They live together with their mother, Gudrun (Barbro Oborg), and often spend time with their family friend and local bodega owner, Beng-Ha (Pierre Lindstedt), with few connections to the outside world. Other recurring characters include Yngve (Carl Magnus Dellow), a local policeman who befriends the brothers, and Eva-Lena (Margareta Stone), Beng-Ha's niece. The plots of the episodes usually center around something out of the ordinary happening, such as guests visiting the resort, often at the same time as some potentially dangerous natural event looms in the distance.
As of 2021, both seasons of the TV-series can be watched legally for free via SVT's Öppet arkiv-service, provided you live in Sweden.
- Animalistic Abomination: The second season introduced "Bjärven" (roughly "the wolver-bear"), a monstrosity said to be the result of a bear mating with a wolverine.
- Bears Are Bad News:
- Bears are an ever-present threat in Svartlien, though they only appear in a handful of episodes.
- In the movie, the big outside threat of the story becomes a savage polar bear.
- Boring, but Practical: In "Väck inte den bjärv som sover", Jan-E is excited about the brothers buying a new snowmobile with money they get from a group of guests staying at the resort. So he becomes pretty disappointed when Sven-E makes the decision that the money will be spent on repairing some of the cabins since that's more essential to the business.
- Brick Joke: In "Lusekoftanovan", Olle is about to go to the movies for the first time in his life. Jan-E tells him about the only time he went to the movies; it was a community center screening of Fame - dubbed into Finnish. When we see Olle at some movie theater later, he is also watching Fame, again dubbed into Finnish.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Sven-E does this to Stor-Erik in the last episode, "Jakten på en dräpare", in a vicious "The Reason You Suck" Speech:Sven-E: ...[w]hoever the hell you might be calling yourself, because you sure aren't my father. You disappeared 27 years ago, and promoted me to shoulder a mantle of lead and drudgery, with two younger brothers to care for, and a mother so corroded by grief that her shadow left stains on the wallpaper. That's what you did. But my father doesn't do that. My father, he saved peoples' lives, he was spoken of as a hero. He killed bears, and climbed mountains, and said good night to us every night. [now in tears] Then he disappeared. Haven't seen him since.
Stor-Erik: Sven-Erik... It's me. Don't you see-
Sven-E: You're not my father. You hear that?! You're not our father!
- Con Man: Dwight, the Norweigan pilot; he comes to Svartlien with the intention of seducing Gudrun into a quick marriage so he can rob her of the land she owns.
- Clear My Name: In the season 2 finale two-parter, Sven-E goes on the run when he becomes suspected of his father's murder.
- Chekhov's Gun: The map from Norway to Svartlien drawn on a frozen cod filet packaging from "Lusekoftanovan". The map was drawn by Stor-Erik and given to Dwight when they met some time ago. In the season 2 finale two-parter, it proves that the skeleton found in the mountains obviously predates the drawing of the map, meaning it can't be Stor-Erik's body.
- Continuity Snarl: While most revelations about Stor-Erik made in the movie were consistent with what Sven-E had known but kept secret from the others, there is a major inconsistency about the avalanche of 1973 mentioned in the second episode of season 2. In that episode, the avalanche was said to have trapped dozens of people that Stor-Erik dug out with his bare hands; the guest characters of the episode, the Näslund brothers, lost their father in the avalanche, despite Stor-Erik's best efforts. In the film, Sven-E admits to Olle that the "avalanche" was really just a single person being buried under some snow that fell off the bodega's roof. Also, Stor-Erik used a shovel.
- Contrived Coincidence: Throughout season 2, Olle exchanges letters with an anonymous pen pal - who just happens to be, of all people in the world, Eva-Lena.
- Dance Party Ending: Many episodes had a big dance number after the central conflict had been resolved.
- Dead Person Conversation: In the movie, after Stor-Erik's funeral, Sven-E talks to him a few times.
- Extremely Short Timespan: Each episode usually takes place over a single day, starting when the brothers get up in the morning and ending with them going to bed at night.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Sven-E's attempts to keep his brothers from leaving for the big world outside of Svartlien. Even if he could realistically keep it up forever, it won't change the fact that there won't be anyone to replace the brothers as caretakers of the ski resort when they're gone.
- Grim Up North: Downplayed; while Svartlien apparently is an excellent place to ski and has some beautiful scenery, the isolation and the inhospitability of the local climate and wildlife are constant threats.
- Instant Expert: Despite never having flown a plane in his life, in "Lusekoftanovan", Sven-E is able to not only fly a plane, he is able to not only pilot it expertly, but save Jan-E and Olle from a snowstorm by using the hard winds to stop the plane mid-air.
- Limited Wardrobe: The main cast are rarely seen in anything other than their usual outfits, even when asleep.
- Mood Whiplash: An all too common occurrence in the Gudrun and Beng-Ha vignettes, courtesy of Beng-Ha.
- In one episode, after dancing together, he suddenly wants to put on something livelier and finds records of an old famous prank caller of all things.
- In another, after having a heartfelt discussion about letting the memory of Stor-Erik go, he decides to try and take down the portrait in the bodega, hurting his back in the process and setting up the plot for the next episode.
- Never the Obvious Suspect: The murder of Stor-Erik handled in the last two episodes of season 2. A knife found at the scene, the apparent murder weapon, has a personal inscription for Sven-E, making him an obvious suspect. After he goes on the run, Beng-Ha finds evidence to clear him, and Sven-E finds that Stor-Erik is alive and hiding in a cave.
- Parental Abandonment: During Christmas of 1973, Stor-Erik left for Norway to be with a woman he was having an affair with, leaving behind his wife and sons; Sven-E is shown to have become more morose as a result, something that lasts to the present day.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: The Marklund brothers, along with basically everyone operating in Svartlien, break the law as a matter of daily routine by producing their own alcohol and serving it at the bodega, as well as by basically committing fraud by getting state-funded subsidies under false pretenses.
- Relationship Sabotage: Sven-E is not above doing this, for example in episode 2 of season 1; when Gunnel comes by after Jan-E has fallen asleep, she asks Sven-E to tell him to meet up with her the next day... And when Jan-E wakes up later Sven-E tells him it was a comic book salesman.
- Savage Wolves: A pack is roaming around Svartlien in the episode "Svartlien 2010" and become an active threat later in the plot of the episode.
- Similar Squad: The Näslund brothers, a more dickish and more successful trio of brothers who appear in episode 2 of season 2. They are played by the same actors in similar roles, they have similar nicknaming conventions, the same father worship and similar relationships to each other.
- Strictly Formula: Most episodes of the series follow a rigid formula:
- The episode starts with the brothers getting up in the morning in a scene that sets up the rest of the episode and often an impending natural disaster.
- The "out of the ordinary" thing happens, usually a visitor not native to the area such as a resort guest.
- Some sort of serious, often life-threatening accident happens, usually as the result of some wrongdoing or act of recklessness by (often) Jan-E, (less often) Olle, (sometimes) a visiting guest or some combination thereof.
- Sven-E, either directly or indirectly, takes charge and saves the day; a big dance tends to follow.
- The brothers turn in for the night and reflect on the events of the day before falling asleep.
- Stylistic Suck: The series does not spend a lot of its budget on special effects or props; for example, while falling snow occasionally is replicated, the mountain top is just covered by white sheets that barely look like snow.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In Svartlien 2010, Jan-E, Olle and Beng-Ha invite members of the Olympic committee to Svartlien to organize the Winter Olympics there, claiming to be much better equipped than they actually are. The members swiftly dress them down for false advertising and wasting their time.
- Will They or Won't They?: Gudrun and Beng-Ha have a kinda-sorta romance subplot throughout the series; they are both attracted to the other and Gudrun has long since moved on from Stor-Erik, who hasn't been seen for decades, even though they are still legally married, but Beng-Ha is still hamstrung by his loyalty towards Stor-Erik. In the film, after Stor-Erik's funeral, Beng-Ha is still reluctant, but shortly afterwards finally proposes to Gudrun and they take a trip to Spain together.