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The Almighty Johnsons Season 1 (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

Check out our review of this SyFy Channel comedy drama that follows the Johnson boys, four typical fun-loving guys – who have inherited the power of Norse Gods. But these four brothers are no flashy superheroes. Everyday Gods have everyday struggles – searching for love, overcoming sibling rivalry and fulfilling their God-like destiny – while still enjoying a few beers with their mates.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )



Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )



Studio and Year: PBS - 2011
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 465 minutes
Genre: Drama/Comedy

Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080i/60

Audio Format(s): DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH
Starring: Emmet Skilton, Timothy Balme, Dean O’Gorman, Jared Turner, Ben Barrington, Fern Sutherland, Hayden Frost, Eve Gordon, Rachel Nash, Michelle Langstone, Keisha Castle-Hughes
Directed by: Various
Written by: Various
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 7, 2014

"Meet the Gods next door..."

My Take:

The Almighty Johnsons is a New Zealand based comedy/drama that follows Axl Johnson, who on his 21st birthday discovers his family members are reincarnated Norse gods. The problem is, they do not have full control of their powers and it is up to Axl (the reincarnation of Odin) to restore them and ensure the family's survival by finding the reincarnation of Odin's wife, Frigg. The primary and continuing episodic plot revolves around the interference/complications brought on by the presence of three Norse goddesses who are trying to find Frigg before the Johnsons do to prevent the restoration of the gods' powers (which would vault them above the goddesses), as well as an antagonistic reincarnation of Norse godLoki. Here is a bit more of a breakdown:

The Johnson’s are led by the eldest brother Mike. Mike’s power is derived from Ullr, the God of skill, hunt and duel. Anders is the second Johnson brother. His power is derived from Bragi, the God of poetry, which means he can influence people with his words. Anders’ unique ability has served him alright in a business sense. He runs a small PR company and does pretty well for himself with the ladies. The third brother, Ty, is the human incarnation of Hodor (also known as Hodur or Hoor or Hoth), the blind Norse God of winter and darkness. As Hodor, his Godlike ‘power’ is to make things slightly colder – a room when he walks into it, a glass of beer when he’s holding it. Last, but certainly not least, is Axl. Axl is an ordinary 20-year old, about to become the 21-year old human incarnation of Odin, a deity with responsibilities far out-weighing anything Axl wants or needs in his life at his tender young age.

With guidance from the family oracle (their eternally young grandfather Olaf) and with the help of his brothers, Axl, as the human incarnation of Odin, god of wisdom, victory, and magic, must embark upon his life’s quest, to find Frigg, his beloved. The family prophecy states that only when Odin and Frigg are reunited will the house of Asgard be rebuilt and the Gods will rule again – unless their nemeses, the power-hungry Goddesses, can stop the Johnsons and find Frigg first!

The Almighty Johnsons ran for three seasons (or series as it’s referred to in New Zealand) beginning in 2011 through 2013. The SyFy network acquired the series and began airing season one’s 10 episodes beginning in July 2014. Having watched the unedited season one I found the show to be mildly entertaining as it contains a good balance of light situational humor, relationship drama and the kind of action and production elements you might expect to find in a TV based series with a limited budget. The characters feel a bit elementary at times and the writing isn’t especially original but there is reward to be found in the conceptual nature of the show as well as the ensemble cast and their respective portrayals. I am not so sure that The Almighty Johnsons ever thoroughly drew me in however I can certainly see where there would be an audience for it. I guess the best way to find out would be to tune in to SyFy in November when the show returns and see for yourself.

Parental Guide:

The show contains suggestive dialogue, coarse language, sexual content, nudity and violence.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 78
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA

Video: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:

The Almighty Johnsons Season 1 comes to Blu-ray Disc from PBS Distribution featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 20 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD Master Audio stereo sound that has an average bitrate of 1.5 Mbps.

This television series effectively uses visual aesthetics (predominantly lighting) to set the tone based upon the subject matter or mood of a particular scene. In all respects there is a pleasing blend of primary colors that are capably offset by delineated secondary hues. Fleshtones are on the warm side but are tonally balanced and lifelike in depiction. Resolution is estimable as close ups and midlevel pans have appreciable depth while exhibiting varying levels of refinement. Fine detail isn’t always copiously on display which results in images appearing less delineated at times. On the contrary there are many instances where the video has defining sharpness and lucidity. Contrast is stable and blacks are deep but mildly crushed which in some instances makes subtle gradations harder to detect. This isn’t problematic as there are few instances of low level sequences where it is even noticeable. There is a fine layer of grain that pervades and adds noticeable texture to the presentation. I didn’t see any obvious signs of video related anomalies.

The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio stereo soundtrack adequately reproduces the shows elements but isn’t especially engaging. Dynamics are present and defining without being strident or edgy. Dialogue is rendered with appreciable tonal expression and excellent room penetration through the center channel speaker. The front soundstage is diffused with notable separation and articulated detail. The series is a mix of dialogue with some action based material that would have benefited from a broader/surround mix but I can’t say that I found the presentation to be noticeably lacking. If you apply the Dolby or DTS processing in your AVR or pre/pro that derives surround sound from two channel sources it makes for a more enveloping and apropos experience.

Bonus Features:
  • Audio commentary with stars Tim Balme/Emmett Skilton, and director Mark Beesley
  • Interviews with the cast

Final Thoughts:

The Almighty Johnsons is a mildly entertaining and offbeat comedy/drama TV series that benefits from a good balance of light humor, relationship drama and decent casting. The unedited Season 1 kept me interested but not appreciably engaged over the span of its ten episodes. It makes its debut on Blu-ray from PBS Distribution featuring good overall high definition audio/video quality mated with a lackluster supplemental offering. I am sure that fans of the series will be delighted that they can now own it on Blu-ray and for them this release comes recommended. For all others I would recommend a rental or checking your local listings for episodes appearing on the SyFy channel.

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

Ralph C. Potts
Blu-ray Reviewer
My Home Theater
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post #2 of 2 Old 10-07-2014, 02:06 PM
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Ha, Cool to see a Kiwi show getting a BD release and review in the USofA.

My cousin is married to the Brother of the main actor, laid back and nice family.
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