Sunday, June 19, 2011

Næturvaktin...missing you already.

Last night I finally finished watching "The Night Shift" on BBC iPlayer. Although I was aware that there was an Icelandic (black) comedy series running on BBC4, I hadn't made any attempt to watch this and it was only thanks to the always wonderful Rachel that I discovered a rare gem.

Næturvaktin (The Night Shift) was not so well received by British media critics, but has gained a small but very devoted fan following. It is not a conventional comedy series in any sense - no irritating laughter track for example, and documentary-style camera work - in the beginning I thought it owed a lot to the brilliant "Flight of the Conchords" with Georg as a more extreme version of band manager Murray, who never takes responsibility for the consequences of his actions. (Some critics also compared the show to "The Office" although I can't comment on that one, as my extreme aversion to Ricky Gervais means that I've never been able to sit through more than one episode of that particular show).

Every great comedy series has well-rounded characters with particular traits and Næturvaktin already established these in its first 30 minutes: manager Georg Bjarnfreðarson - a Sweden-obsessed Marxist with (count them) five university degrees (including that all-important pedagogy!) and an obsession for making money out of recycling cans; Ólafur, the likeable but extremely gullible wannabe band manager who is always the butt of Georg's wrath; and Daníel, the new employee, an anxious college dropout who develops a growing relationship with Ylva ('kiosk girl' as she's known over at Digital Spy!). And let's not forget the emotionally abused Flemming Geir....

Of course every great comedy series needs its catchphrases and this one's no different - Georg's "personnel on the forecourt!" and "it was just a misunderstanding" may not sound obviously funny but you have to watch it to understand. Georg is a classic, grotesque, memorable character and this is one of the best TV series I've seen in years. Now all they need to do is release the DVD over here, failing that I'll just have to do what everyone else has done and buy it on import!


Kippers said...

Lovely stuff! I watched this series and raved about it to anyone who'd listen so it's great to see that I wasn't the only one to get hooked on the Night Shift! Took me back to my own days working on the tills in a petrol station.

You'll doubtless be aware too that there are a further two spin-off series to Næturvaktin and (I think) a movie, featuring the same characters. What do you reckon the chances are of BBC4 showing all those as well? (No, me neither!)

Laura (EuropeCrazy) said...

Really hoping for the next two series on BBC4, but not holding my breath. They seem to be favouring the Nordic crime stuff at the moment.

So you were "personnel on the tills" then! Hopefully you didn't have a boss like Georg who docked your wages for the "holiday fund" :))

Kippers said...

I was! Actually I was "personnel on the forecourt" for a while too before we went self-service!

I think I'll defeinitely have to fork out for the DVDs of the subsequent series you know. (Not this though - I managed to get them all recorded on video. That's right, video!)

Laura (EuropeCrazy) said...

Yes, video. I still do that too! But I was caught napping this time as I didn't discover the show till late on, so had to download it to iPlayer (for a time limited period) instead.

Kippers said...

Ahh, frustrating!

What did you think of the final episode, by the way? I think it was my least favourite of the series. Too much changed, I think, although I realise that they were obviously keen to tie up all the loose ends at the garage and get everything in place for the next series.

I thought it was a bit harsh the way Daniel dumped the girl from the shop too. Although admitedly she was getting a bit full-on!