Vintergatan (The Milky Way) is a term used commonly when talking about the Vintergatan-universe in general - a number of series produced by Sweden's SVT.
The Vintergatan series was originally a show created for the mornings of summer vacation, airing at nine-o'-clock every morning for around sixty days in the year 2000. It began with Vintergatan 5A — a children's science-fiction comedy show that was about three youngsters and one oldster — Plucky Girl Mira, The Smart Guy Henrik, the black-and-American Glen, and a very Grumpy Old Man by name of Peo. To summarize, they thought they were going to camp, all of them riding in the same cab (with Peo as the driver). They suffered an unfortunate Alien Abduction. They found themselves on a spaceship — but before long, it went dark, and a holographic screen appeared. An alien (who, quite simply, called himself 'Alien') began speaking to them, asking them if they would go on a quest that would change the world forever...and, in an actual aversion of a But Thou Must! situation, gave them the choice to deny. Mira cast the deciding vote, and leaned toward refusing...but after Glen sighed, saying he should have known she would back down — after all, she is a girl — she agreed anyway, and the adventure began.
Despite some very annoying Filler, not-too-convincing special effects, and a rather Anvilicious Aesop, Narm Charm was in its favor (and plain old regular charm) — and so, it proved popular enough to get a second season (Although one could also call it a sequel), which aired the next year. Vintergatan 5B did not have Mira as a leading member of the cast anymore, replaced by Emotionless Girl Irina Teresjkova, and the quest was different as well — Ulla, Peo's wife, had mysteriously gone missing, and he desperately contacted his fellow travellers to help him search for her. Interest was kept strong, and another show was made...
...Tillbaka Till Vintergatan (Back To The Milky Way). It was mostly compiled of material from 5A and 5B, though featured some newly recorded material as well, airing during the year 2003 and 2004 in the evenings. The plot was simple — Peo was working at his gas station (in space!), and telling the tales of his past to his assistant Garsson, making it an example of an entire whole flashback series. Nevertheless, it cut away some of the filler. Which was good.
In the year of 2009, another sequel was made, taking place nearly twenty years after the original — Vid Vintergatans Slut (don't laugh — it means At The End Of The Milky Way). It features Mira, all grown up, and not at all like her younger, more adventurous self — these times, she's a surly, middle-aged woman. She also has a daughter named Billie, who fondly remembers the stories her mother used to tell her when she was small, about space and travels and aliens, which she always assumed was just stories. When she visits her childhood home, however, she finds a spacesuit hidden away, and a rather human-looking alien named Pax (from the planet Ypsagon) visits her and takes her to her spaceship, claiming she's sent from Peo and mistaking her for Mira. They pick up a reluctant Mira after this, and they finally get to have all the adventures in space Billie always wanted but Mira turned her back to, as they set off to defeat a Terrible Trio (consisting of The Count, The Professor, and Lennartsson). It kept continuity in mind, and it was written and directed by the same fellow who did the original 5A and 5B. It ended on a Sequel Hook, so it looks this isn't the end of the Milky Way.
Nevertheless, the series was appreciated by children abound. A shame about the lack of DVD release for the original series, though.
These shows contain examples of:
- Action Girl: The reason that Mira comes along in the first place is to convince Glen and the others that she can be one of these. Really, though, she's a fairly normal girl — but she evolves somewhere along the series, with the magic of Character Development.
- All Planets Are Earth-Like: Averted, for the most part. Fillione and Zinnij, which are earth-like are stated by the computer to be "A lot like your planet, Earth".
- Aliens Speaking English: Many of the alien species speak perfect Swedish.
- Animal Stereotypes: Lennartsson is a traditional example of a rat (and looks the part, too, with a gray hood and a whisker-like mustache), while the Professor is a female example of a bird of prey. She seems to have a golden hawk somehow attached to her forehead. Subtle.
- Arc Words: "Until the next time, farewell...and remember that anything can happen in space." Sounds logical enough on paper, yes, but the narrator's voice always made it seem like Foreshadowing.
- Artistic License Geography: Whenever the Earth appears at any point in the series, for example in the background, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark cover the entire globe. But then, maybe this is simply the most extreme form of patriotism.
- Artistic License Space: Black holes do not work as quick jumps through space. Made a bit more frustrating that it's Alien who suggests this. He's supposed to know these things.
- Bad Boss: Peo's former boss, the chief of the taxi service. Peo still has nightmares about this guy. Not too strange as the chief hits his employees in the head with an axe when he is displeased with them.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Pax, regarding her affection for Crona, an easy-going groovy guy from Ypsagon. Her hair turns yellow in his presence, signifying embarrassment.
- Cliffhanger: Once an episode. Done very well.
- Character Development: Every main character gets some.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Mira, Henrik, and Glen are clad in the primary colors. Peo is simply in his cab driver's uniform, but then, Alien didn't expect him to be beamed along. Irina has an orange cosmonaut suit.
- Although Peo did get a space-suit in green.
- Cool Old Guy: Peo after his character development. Notice the difference between the two pictures at the top.
- Dirty Coward: Lennartsson shows elements of this in the final episode, softly leaning out of screen when Pax shows up and things go to hell. Fortunately, he's called on it just before the Count and Professor face down the heroes in the main staircase where he doesn't show up anyway, having snuck away to where Lucci escaped.
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The doomsday planet.
- Emotionless Girl: Irina. It's explicitly pointed out in this dialogue:Henrik: But—don't you have any feelings?!Irina: Cosmonauts don't have feelings, Henrik!
- Evil Laugh: Seems to be more a formality than anything else in VVS. Lampshaded (without a single word of conversation, too!) when the more traditional villains, the Count and the Professor, were recapping their plan with Lennartsson, and the two finished off with a bout of evil laughter. Lennartsson — likely not used to the traditions — failed to join them, resulting in the two going silent and glaring at him until he raised his voice in a lackluster giggle, causing the two to continue again.
- Filler: The damn Zonkophone calls. Let me explain — the characters got 'Zonkophones' at the start of the series, kind of like cellphones but looking like oval rocks. In any case, the plot of the series was fairly simple, but they had a lot of episodes to fill — so children called the Zonkophones and helped the characters out with their own personal things to fill time. (Not to mention the characters seemed to drop everything and focus on their conversation with the children, leading to many a frustrating moment.) Inventive? Certainly. Annoying as hell? Very much so.
- In Vid Vintergatans Slut, they thankfully didn't get the Zonkophones. It still kept the spirit of Filler, however, with conversations between Pax and Mira on the ship. Made more frustrating since it actually led to some Character Development, but it was minor (and forced by the plot later on in any case), and the fact that this installment was far, far shorter, with ten half-hour episodes instead of the forty-fifty of 5A and 5B. They didn't really have much time to fill in the first place.
- Five-Token Band: Four, but still — Mira, a Hispanic youngster, Henrik, a Swedish youngster, Glen, a black, American youngster, and Peo, a Swedish oldster.
- Foreshadowing: At some point during their journey, the crew notice that some of their stuff is missing, implying that there's a thief among them. When Peo notices that his pipe is missing, he immediately confronts the others, believing that one of them is the thief. This causes Mira to do a nervous Aside Glance and then get unreasonably bitchy afterward.
- God Job: Gaia is a title for the one responsible for watching over the universe. Peo and Ulla becomes Gaia at the end of 5B.
- Green Aesop: The mission in 5A was to gather lifeforms from other worlds which could help clean up the pollution on Earth so Earth could be considered for admission into the intergalactic council.
- Grumpy Old Man: Peo, at least before his Character Development.
- Honest John's Dealership: Benke Bengtsson. It doesn't help that, the way they make it look, the only store in the galaxy is owned by him.
- Human Aliens: Played straight with Pax and Crona. Averted by some other alien species', such as the Ürgüps (small, blue-robed figures who speak by honking with their horn-shaped mouths), and narrowly avoided by others (such as the dwellers of Filione, who look human but with differently colored skin).
- Instant Expert: "Sanningsperkulatorn" (the truthperculator) can make people into these. Among other things it can do.
- Kick the Dog: This exchange between The Count and Lennartsson, after Lennartsson comes back from his mission having not captured Peo, but Mira.Lennartsson: Yes, well, that doesn't matter—come here, Lucci...The Count: No. Lucci doesn't like losers.Lennartsson: (confused whimper) Nieh...?
- The Count, who had previously appeared a rather humorous, bumbling aristocrat, gained about ten times the creepiness in that moment.
- Large Ham: The Count. Later on, however, he shifts into a Magnificent Bastard.
- Ludicrous Gibs: Heavily implied in 5A at the end of the visit to the planet Zeryj. Peo and Glen are chased by the cave monster who eventually makes it the car and sticks its ugly claw inside it to grab Mira, but at that exact moment Henrik beam them all up and when the car rolls in it's covered in mysterious, off-coloured goo that wasn't there before they were beamed up...
- Mad Love: Lennartsson with Lucci, because 'Lucci' seems to have the mentality of a bloodcrazed megalomaniac, speaking in nonsensical gibbers which only Lennartsson understands — things like "Sunder and rule", and so, it seems he's the main inspiration behind Lennartsson's dedication to turn the Professor and the Count against each other so he can rule the galaxy alone. Also a bit of a Companion Cube, since Lucci is never seen until the final episode. It doesn't help that, in some extra material, he describes 'the three things I'd bring to a desert planet' as "Lucci, Lucci's bag, and...and...ah... ...did I say Lucci?" and outright breaks into tears over not getting to bring him on a mission (before pulling himself together, furiously telling the camera to stop filming). Not to mention that, with Lucci, he badmouths his companions with a smile — when the Count decides to keep Lucci for himself, he grows far meeker and less confident. It doesn't help his case either that him and the revealed Lucci bicker like an old married couple at the end of the last episode. Lennartsson snaps back once, is angrily snarled at, and doesn't object again. Talk about a Henpecked Husband.
- Mad Scientist: The Professor. Oh so very much.
- Magic Tool: Mentioned by Benke. Called 'Intergalaktiskt Multi-Tool'. There is no other explanation he gives for it than 'It's used for everything!'.
- Mood Whiplash: In an otherwise rather lighthearted scene from Vid Vintergatans Slut, Peo appears to have a heart attack. Sure, it doesn't actually happen, but...damn!
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Melvis, who dressed in extremely Elvis-like attire and acted as a guardian for the planet Tjårnyj, while singing and showing off. Oddly enough, he didn't like Elvis.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Captain Zoom's signature gag. "Look over there!" Peo also seems to be able to do this later on.
- Only One Name: Played straight and averted — the original four were given last names in 5B (making them Glen Johnson, Henrik Gjöres, Mira Ardiles and Peo Persson), but they're still mostly referred to by their first names.
- Pokémon Speak: The siblings from Fillione, Five, Seven and Three, who can only speak their respective names.
Five: Five five five five...five five...five...five five.
- Played for laughs occassionally, such as when Five plays board games, tries to solve a sudoku, and recites a telephone number.
- Put on a Bus: Peo spends a lot of time during 5B unconscious, first from stress, then for hitting his head on a rock. Also, Mira was kidnapped by the Fifoons early in 5B.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Lucci, Lennartsson's pet (who he keeps in his purse, talks to and feeds earthworms), is at first only seen as a pair of glowing red eyes. In some quite spectacular Nightmare Retardant, it's revealed to be a white worm-thing. But then, it could intentionally resemble another white, worm-shaped object I can think of...
Glen: *points down to the water hole* What is that?Peo: What is?Glen: You didn't notice? It's some kind of red light... that's getting closer...
- Don't forget the cave monster from planet Zeryj in 5A.
- Rule of Cool: Governs one half of this universe.
- Rule of Funny: Governs the other.
- Single-Biome Planet: Every planet they visited in 5A (except Krasnyj, the doomsday planet) is one of these.
- Zoltzy is a desert planet.
- Filione is covered by a planet-wide forest.
- Zeryj is a hollow planet covered by a complex of caves.
- Zinij is an ocean planet with few chunks of land.
- VVS, however, manages to avert this, by having a mostly craggy and rocky planet also be struck by occassional snowstorms.
- Soul Brotha: Glen. The guy was as much pure coolness as you could fit into a children's show. To show how much, I will describe this scenario. Glen in space, finding a jukebox. He erupts "Oh, space-funk!" and begins grooving along.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Crona, pronounced not 'crow-na' but 'kroohna', leading the idle watcher to assume it was spelt with a K. It wasn't. Also slightly the case with Lucci — the fandom have been seen debating the number of 'C's, and the creator has, himself, stated that he's spelt it one way in some places, another way in some.
- Sticky Fingers: Played for drama with Mira.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: From a bit of extra material comes this:Lennartsson: Yes, well, it's very nice here, and nothing, nothing is missed by me here, I miss nothing, nothing, not a little bag, that usually has a little Lucci in it, I miss nothing, I don't need anything, (breaking down into incoherent gibbers) don't need anything, have everything I need here, there's nothing, nothing, noth—(sobbing) Lu-uh-uh-cci...(Pulling himself together) Phew... ...stop filming! This isn't something to film, I have everything I need here, I—stop filming!
- Terrible Trio: The Triumvirate of Vid Vintergatans Slut. An interesting example in that none of them is the leader — The Count seems to take this position at first, but he only supplies the money and can't assist the project in any other way, The Professor has the brains, but absolutely no social competence and thus frequently alienates and reprimands the fifoons working for her, and Lennartsson seems out of place, nearly like he doesn't have any use, but turns out to be a bit of The Man Behind the Man; he's the one who rallies the fifoons, and, all-in-all, has a slightly better hand with people and the workings of their minds. Since the Count is an arrogant pedantic who wants everything to be the same, and the Professor is an arrogant genius who wants people to appreciate her for her intelligence (despite the fact that she treats them like mud), Lennartsson is the only one with real social competence. However, him being The Man Behind the Man gets him a good position — he's the one to throw the first backstab.
- Tractor Beam: The primary method used for landing on planets.
- Translator Microbes: Present all through the series, usually in form of the truthperculator, then subverted in one episode of VVS, where Peo is, indeed, seen speaking an alien language with, well, an alien, complete with subtitles for us non-alien watchers. (Of note: One odd thing is that towards the end of the conversation, Peo says 'Zavidal' — the typical greeting for Crona from Ypsagon, who the alien looks nothing like. So either there's a group of planets tightly bunched together with different species living on them, but sharing the same language, or the exhausted, rushed, and desperate Peo tried to act cheery, but a clear sign of his distress was him messing up the languages.)
- Two Guys and a Girl: Henrik and Glen constantly believe that the other is the one Mira's in love with. She doesn't think too much about it herself.
- Un-person: When Irina's shuttle was lost in space, the Soviet staff deemed the operation a complete failure and opted to never talk about it again, presumably destroying all records of her mission and very existence.
- Villains Out Shopping: Villains are frequently seen engaged in harmless activities. In one episode 'the mutants' are out getting backrubs, and The Count in VVS frequently plays with his Playmobil figures.