The History Channel recently completed the first season of 'Vikings,' one of the network's first breakout hits, drawing between 3.3 million and 6.5 million American viewers per episode (the numbers tailed down as the season went along). Its debut episode was the top-rated program in the Sunday night 10 p.m. time slot - a very rare occurrence for History.
The cast of the hit appeared in a panel discussion yesterday in Los Angeles at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre along with Michael Hirst, the creator of the show. Hirst called the success of the season "extremely humbling."
Appearing on stage with Hirst were cast members Travis Fimmel, Clive Standen, Gustaf Skarsgard, George Blagden, Katheryn Winnick and Jessalyn Gilsig.
In discussing the show, Hirst talked about how difficult it was to cast the lead role of Ragnar Lodbrok (which went to Fimmel) and his wife, Lagertha (Winnick). In auditions he said he saw a bunch of “pretty faces,” but not the physical strength he needed in the characters.
“Most of these guys couldn’t lift an axe," he said.
While finding the right cast was difficult, making the sometimes barbaric behavior of the Vikings likable to the audience posed an even greater problem. He praised History for letting his story breathe and allowing the characters to be developed in the way he wanted them to.
“A lot of TV shows, like films, are destroyed by executives,” he said.
Hopefully History will not destroy the series when it comes back for its second season sometime in 2014. I have not had the chance to see the show yet, but have heard a lot of good things. Is it worth watching?