The premiere of Vikings was an exciting, fast-paced, and information-filled introduction to the world of Ragnar and Earl Haraldson. All of the major characters made their first appearances and we experienced life in the Viking settlement, with its lively population and intriguing traditions. Ragnar’s dreams for the future were quickly and deftly explained and his thirst for exploration was right there on his face.

The politically-charged encounters between Ragnar and the Earl paved the way for future confrontations. Earl Haraldson is the perfect counterpoint to Ragnar’s youth and brash new ideas. In the “dining scene,” some might be reminded of Denethor in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. In this case, the Earl partaking of his dinner before a hungry Ragnar was not an exhibition of psychological pathology–it was a demonstration of political power. The Earl is quite comfortable in his powerful seat and sure that he can handle Ragnar. But we see the side of him that is not so comfortable, too, when he dreams of the deaths of his sons. A complex character is unfolding before us.

Ragnar’s brother Rollo is also more complicated than he might seem. And the Viking women–Lagertha and Siggy–hold their own quite well, thank you. The Irish scenery is stunningly beautiful and Floki is stunningly odd–in a good way! The ship he is building is lovely to look at and dangerous to sail. We are set for the next chapter.

Episode Two:  Wrath of the Northmen

Premiere Date: March 10, 2013 – 10:00-11:00PM Eastern

The stage is set for the first journey west by Ragnar Lothbrok as he gathers a crew willing to risk their lives to travel into the unknown. Earl Haraldson’s paranoia reaches new heights as it becomes apparent that trust is hard to come by in this dark era.

Upcoming Airings:

  • March 10, 2013 – 11:01-12:01AM
  • March 11, 2013 – 02:01-03:01AM
  • March 11, 2013 – 03:02-04:02AM
  • March 12, 2013 – 10:00-11:00PM
  • March 13, 2013 – 02:01-03:01AM

You can watch the first two episodes–“Rites of Passage” and “The Wrath of the Northmen”–at the Vikings website.

Gabriel Byrne as Earl Haraldson in “Vikings”: corrupted by power, haunted by memories

This press release tells the numbers story for Vikings. What a great story it is, too! So nice to see Mr. Byrne helming a ratings winner here in the United States. Go VIKINGS!

I am sure the press release originated at The History Channel, but I found it at TV By The Numbers:






New York, NY, March 5, 2013 – Over 18 million cumulative viewers tuned into all or part of the two telecasts of  VIKINGS on Sunday night*, defeating all broadcast competition among Adults 18-49 (2.5 million) and Males 18-49 (1.5 million) in the 10 p.m. hour. VIKINGS from 10-11 p.m. made HISTORY the #1 network among Males 25-54 (1.6 million).

The combination of THE BIBLE and VIKINGS propelled HISTORY to the #1 network in all of television for the night among total viewers.

Over two telecasts on premiere night, Sunday, March 3, VIKINGS delivered 8.3 million total viewers, 3.4 million Adults 18-49 and 3.8 million Adults 25-54. HISTORY’s first scripted series, VIKINGS, conquered 6.2 million total viewers in its 10 p.m. premiere time slot, 2.7 million Adults 25-54 and 2.5 million Adults 18-49. VIKINGS is the #1 new cable series launch of the year among total viewers and Adults 25-54. At 10 p.m., VIKINGS topped all broadcast networks among Adults 18-49.

*To clarify an earlier version of the release, the 18M number was meant in terms of total cumulative viewing regarding an audience that sampled at least a part of the program. Source: Nielsen Live+SD Reach, 3/3/12, 1 min qual. All telecasts.

“VIKINGS is an incredible win for HISTORY – our first scripted series. We began this journey over six years ago, when we set sail to broaden the genre of HISTORY and now we are the only cable network to have achieved this amazing level of success in both nonfiction and scripted genres,” said Nancy Dubuc, President, Entertainment and Media, A+E Networks. “People think they know the Vikings – but the reality is more complex. We knew our audience had an appetite for this unexpected storytelling and it was a big bet that paid off.”

HISTORY’s nine-part scripted series VIKINGS, airs Sundays at 10PM ET and tells the extraordinary tales of the lives and epic adventures of these warriors. The drama portrays the world of these Dark Age raiders, traders, explorers – not from an outsider’s view, but, through the eyes of Viking society.

While VIKINGS is filled with conflict, warfare and bloodshed – for these were extreme times – it is a family saga at heart. It follows the adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel, The Beast, Baytown Outlaws), a curious, compelling  man who is always looking to break through barriers and discover new worlds to conquer. Ragnar is deeply frustrated by the unadventurous policies of his local chieftain, Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne, In Treatment, Usual Suspects, Millers Crossing), who continues to send his Vikings raiders east every summer, to the Baltic states and Russia, whose populations are as materially poor as themselves.

Joining Fimmel and Byrne are Katheryn Winnick (Bones, Love and Other Drugs, The Black Marks) as Lagertha, a fierce shield maiden and Ragnar’s wife; Jessalyn Gilsig (Glee, Heroes, Nip/Tuck, Friday Night Lights) as Siggy, Earl Haraldson’s beautiful wife; George Blagden (Les Miserables, Wrath of the Titans) as Athelstan, a young, innocent Christian monk captured by Ragnar on his first raid on England, Clive Standen (Camelot, Robin Hood) as Rollo, Ragnar’s impulsive, wild, care-free brother and Gustaf Skarsgard (The Way Back) a ship builder who designs the new generation of Vikings ships.

Created and written by Michael Hirst – one of the premier historical story-tellers in the industry (Academy-Award winning film Elizabeth; and the Emmy and Golden Globe nominated series The Tudors), Michael serves as Executive Producer along with Morgan O’Sullivan of World 2000 (The Count of Monte Cristo; The Tudors), John Weber of Take 5 Productions (The Tudors; The Borgias), Sherry Marsh, Alan Gasmer, James Flynn (The Tudors; The Borgias) and Sheila Hockin (The Tudors; The Borgias). Dirk Hoogstra and Julian P. Hobbs are the Executives in Charge of Production for HISTORY.

VIKINGS is an international Irish/Canadian co-production being co-produced by World 2000 and Take 5 Productions. HISTORY will broadcast domestically in the U.S.  MGM Television will bring VIKINGS to the global audience, serving as the international distributor outside of Ireland, Canada and the U.S. VIKINGS is produced in association with Shaw Media, and the series will air on HISTORY in Canada.


  1. Have somebody here seen the first episodes yet?
    If so, tell what you think.

    • Well, this posting DOES tell you what I think. I did not want to spoil too much…

      Gabriel is GREAT as the Earl. Just the right touch of royal presence and haughty power. The Earl also has a dark side and a vulnerable side–just what we would expect from a performance by Mr. Byrne: a complex character.

      The scenery is unbelievably beautiful and I’m so happy they filmed this in Ireland. A feast for the eyes.

      All the actors are doing a great job. The story is well-written. One can tell that certain things are going to inevitably happen, but the story carries us along and has plenty of surprises–one being The Seer, played by John Kavanagh, and the other Floki, played by Gustaf Skarsgard. So much fun!

      I hear the DVD is coming out soon. I’ll track down some details and post them in this posting.


  2. I am happy to hear that Vikings got so many viewers. I have not been able to see this series yet but the trailers look very interesting and dramatic.
    Gabriel as Earl Haraldson just have to be perfect!

    • Nora, check the Forum. ;-)

      And Mr. Byrne as the Earl IS perfect: perfectly powerful, authoritarian, Machiavellian, and mean. Also perhaps slightly evil. We shall see…

      Some folks on Twitter are calling him “The Jarl,” Is this Swedish for “Earl”? I need to do some research!


  3. Hi, I have been in Germany and now I am in Denmark.
    Yes, Earl is the same as Jarl in Norwegian and other Scandinavian languages. And Earl is not a name, it is a title.
    Happy St.Patrick’s Day to everyone!
    (I will be home Tuesday and then you will hear more from me. )

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