Scandic-themed comedy drama Lilyhammer fails to match up to its peers
- Brian Donaldson
- 18 September 2012
So he has the same hair as Silvio Dante, talks and pouts like Silvio Dante, and struts about with more or less the identical fashion sense as Silvio Dante, so why are they calling this Mafioso type ‘Frank Tagliano’? Well, because this is not The Sopranos, more’s the pity, but Lilyhammer (BBC Four, Tue, 10pm), the latest attempt to culturally cash in on all things Scandic. The twist here is that Silvio, sorry, Frank (Steven Van Zandt) is an ex-gangster who’s been spirited away into the Witness Protection Programme, choosing to be holed up in the snowbound Norwegian woods of Lillehammer (Frank’s murdered dog was called Lily, hence the comedy-drama’s slight name shift).
But it’s not just the appearances that are deceptively similar: Frank shares Silvio’s distaste for immigrants (despite being one in the US and now Norway), takes ownership of a sleazy bar, and isn’t afraid to smash someone up against a wall if the urge takes him. Comparisons with the legendary New Jersey mob drama were inevitable, but Lilyhammer is closer in spirit to the oddball frost-fest of Northern Exposure, while Fargo is clearly referenced thanks to the quirky female police chief.
Ultimately, Lilyhammer pales in every comparison to each of those screen affairs: it’s not up to the same par on funny, dramatic, inventive or silly, only the humorous subplot with the Elvis-impersonating cop believing Frank to be an Al Qaeda operative having any kind of humorous wiggle room.