'Vikings' will be History's first scripted series
The series, set in the world of those brutal, bearded pillagers from the north, is being created and written by "The Tudors" creator Michael Hirst. It will follow the adventures of an actual historical figure, Ragnar Lothbrok, a hero of much Viking mythology and the one-time "king" of Denmark and part of Sweden. Part of his mythology holds that he was a descendent of Odin, the Norse god of warriors.
Lothbrok's ascent to becoming king of the Vikings is the main thrust of the series, which promises all kinds of brutal Viking battles, along with some beautiful northern landscapes. It will be filmed primarily in Ireland with locations throughout northern Europe.
"People think they know about the Vikings. We see references to them all the time in our popular culture from TV commercials to football teams. But the reality is so much more fascinating and complex, more vivid, visceral and powerful than popular legend," History's president and general manager Nancy Dubuc said in a statement. "We will explore the mysteries of the Vikings -- the adventures they took and the people who led them. And we will start to understand a past that is very much part of our collective DNA today."
Ireland has played host to several recent TV series set in the distant past. In addition to the upcoming "Vikings," parts of "The Tudors," "Camelot" and "Game of Thrones" have been filmed there.
This isn't the only upcoming instance of History branching out from its traditional mix of semi-dramatized documentaries. Later this year it will broadcast a miniseries about the Hatfields and McCoys starring Kevin Costner.
History has given a full season commitment to the series, which was brought to the network by MGM who will also handle international distribution. The series promises to explore the Vikings' story from inside their culture. So don't expect a lot of mindless slaughter. There will be lots of slaughter, but it'll be thoughtful.
-- Patrick Kevin Day
Photo: A Viking reenactor attends the Up Helly Aa Festival in the Shetland Islands. Credit: Andy Buchanan / AFP / Getty Images