For those of you with Netflix accounts, check out the full first season of Lilyhammer. The first original programming offered by Netflix, and a damn fine offering at that.
It tells the tale of a mob guy named Frankie the Fixer and his relocation to Lillehammer, Norway as a part of the Witness Protection Services. He was forced to turn rat after an unsuccessful attempt was made on his life by his co-horts in crime. He chose Lillehammer because of his fascination with the 1994 Winter Olympics that were held in and near that town. It's a classic "fish out of water" story. Definitely a comedy, but not outrageously so. The comedy comes more from the situations that arise when a tough NY mob guy has to adjust to life in idyllic, rural-sh Norway.
Steve Van Zandt riffs off of his character from The Sopranos as Frankie the Fixer turned Giovanni Henrikksen. And even though he is basically playing the same character, he gets to stretch his wings quite a bit more in this one. His Frankie/Giovanni is much more interesting than Silvio Dante. Less and more dangerous at the same time, he is a man who falls in love with a town, a people, a woman and her son. Offering wiseguy advice and logic and learning a thing or two himself.
One of the interesting things about the show is the Norwegian cast. Van Zandt plays the only character who speaks English on a full-time basis. As a part of his relocation, he learned the language but not enough to speak it himself. So he understands everyone and they all understand him, even though they speak Norwegian most of the time. So it's basically a foreign show in subtitles. Don't worry, it's not distracting at all.
It's not the most original concept in the world. It's been done time and time again from Northern Exposure to My Cousin Vinny. But it works. And I'm fascinated by Norway, so it offered that extra appeal for me.
The show has been getting good reviews and it has been renewed for another season. But you can check out the first 8 episodes online right now. Capisce?