As Game of Thrones ends, critics hail Game of Trolls

Jim Udenberg (centre), in his costume as troll in the TV series 'Magnus', at the 2019 Cannes International Series festival, in Cannes on April 6, 2019.

CANNES, FRANCE (AFP) - Game of Thrones may be about to take a final bow, but fans of the television series need not despair - Game of Trolls is coming.

A madcap new fantasy show call "Magnus" featuring the lumbering fairytale monsters is the talk of the Canneseries festival in the French Riviera resort, where the world's top TV market MIPTV is also being held.

Funnier than anything in the Seven Kingdoms, it has been described as a hilarious fantasy mix of a Scandi noir cop show and Inspector Clouseau, with elements of Inspector Gadget and the deadpan surrealism of Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki thrown in for good measure.

It creator, actor Vidar Magnussen, the brains behind the "Mind Phallus" spoofs of the British series Sherlock, told AFP that he has been "blown away" by the reaction to the series, already a huge hit in his homeland.

His "Sherlock" send-ups went viral in 2014 when one of the series' stars Amanda Abbington shared them on social media.

They played on supposed homoerotic tensions between the famed fictional British detective played by Benedict Cumberbatch and his trusty sidekick Watson, played by her then husband Martin Freeman.

Norwegian state broadcaster NRK was so impressed it gave Magnussen "three and a half years to let my imagination run wild".

Wacky twist on Nordic noir

The result is a take off of cult Nordic crime dramas like "The Bridge", "Wallander" or "The Killing" with a wacky supernatural twist.

Even though its eponymous hero Magnus is the failed inventor and the worst detective in a small snow-bound Norwegian country town, Magnussen insisted that the show "doesn't set out to bully or mock anyone".

Yet the writer, who plays the bungling policeman himself, is not afraid to have fun with Scandinavian stereotypes.

"I feel that Nordic noir has done it's time," he said, even as he admitted that his show had borrowed some of their dark edge.

"The challenge was to do very silly comedy and yet ground in something quite real and hard that would have leave people wanting to know more," he told AFP in Cannes, where the show had its international premiere.

"I needed the characters that were easily readable, so evil was evil and good was good and suicidal was suicidal," he joked.

The troll element of show expands hugely "as Magnus becomes the bridge to a supernatural world, a kind of diplomat to the troll universe trying to sort things out with the humans." Magnussen said the "crazy world" he created "has never been seen before in Norway", where the show has become the biggest TV phenomenon since the teen series "Scam", a massive international hit which has spawned a global franchise.

"Norwegians love their trolls but we are a sceptical down-to-earth people," the creator said.

"It is not like Iceland and the elves," where more than half of the population are said to still believe in the little "hidden folk".

"But the folklore is very strong and we are proud of them," Magnussen said.

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