First Impressions: The Last Kingdom

Should we be comparing this to Game of Thrones? 

A/N I waited for the UK airing of this, hence the delayed reaction…

Verdict: Could get interesting

Premise: Boy is kidnapped by Vikings, boy is adopted by Vikings, boy grows up and loses Viking dad, decides to take revenge.

I was not particularly excited about this. People were calling it a “Game of Thrones fix”, but I didn’t buy that for a second. Furthermore, I could never get into Vikings [I watched 1 and a half seasons] and I am getting my fill of period drama with The Bastard Executioner. However – after watching the pilot – I concluded this show has potential.

Based on the Saxon Stories series of books, The Last Kingdom introduces us to Uhtred, the son of Bebbanburg’s Lord. After his father - played by Matthew Macfadyen - dies in a Danish invasion, Uhtred is taken captive by the Vikings. However, as time passes, he actually bonds with his Viking captors and becomes one of them. Many years later, Uhtred has to watch yet another father figure die at the hands of an opposing Viking clan. Moreover, the attackers  may or may not have been in cahoots with Uhtred’s evil English uncle who now rules Bebbanburg. So Uhtred vows to take revenge… And who doesn’t love a revenge story? It might be the most universal subject out there.

Just to manage expectations… this has nothing in common with Game of Thrones; except for the fact that the big star Matthew Macfadyen dies so fast, you’d think he took some lessons from Sean Bean. Other than that… The Last Kingdom does not have the fantasy or epic elements that are fundamental to Thrones. I don’t mean this as criticism, it is simply a different show [not sure why everyone was comparing them]. I also saw some comparisons to The Bastard Executioner, which –again – I didn’t get. First of all, different time period. Plus The Last Kingdom has a straight-forward historic approach, while TBX has a more surrealist feel. So I think they both can occupy their own space in our TV schedules.

If I had to compare the show to anything, it would be Vikings. They both touch the same historical events, except The Last Kingdom is told through the eyes of an English outsider… which I thought was an interesting choice. On Vikings we obviously side with the Nordic invaders; I thought TLK might do the opposite. However, having an English noble raised by Vikings brings an interesting dual point of view. All in all, it is unlikely for this to become my new TV obsession, but it might have enough to grab me in a way that Vikings never did. We’ll see…

Should you watch it? I wasn’t blown away by the pilot – but I’ve made it a point to manage my pilot expectations lately. So I fully intend to watch the rest. Skip it if you don’t like period pieces or if you were just watching it for Matthew Macfadyen and/or Rutger Hauer

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The TV Empress is a Media Management graduate, screenwriter in the making (and financial engineer in the meantime). She has serious plans to take over global television. You can follow the TVEmpress on twitter @TVRepublik

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