As a change from the bleak world of criminality and long-suffering detectives served up by Nordic Noir, we get a comedy from Norway called Dag. It’s about a relationship counsellor, Dag Refsnes (Atle Antonsen), who believes that people are better off living on their own. As he tells one couple in his consulting room, “Living together, you're only as happy as the least happy person there.” He’s so sure of this philosophy that he even puts a dirty great big sign up to this effect on his office wall - asking the question “too much” when he switches it on.
Dag practises what he preaches by literally locking himself away in his apartment, but he is far from happy as evidenced by his dependence on swallowing Valium from a Pez sweet dispenser! It’s a good job he doesn’t work for the Samaritan’s helpline as he would clear the client list in a single night.
Well it is Norwegian, so it’s no surprise this is a dark comedy series rather than a full-on funfest - more The League of Gentlemen than Miranda. You can regard this as a bleaker Nordic version of Frasier, where Frasier Crane’s pompousness is replaced by grumpy depression. Just as Frasier’s brother Niles inflamed Frasier’s bombastic behaviour and cultural snobbery, Dag’s friend Benedikt (Anders Christiansen) is equally useless and only adds to his belief in lonely isolation.
Benedikt breaks up from his girlfriend as she is giving birth, by explaining that “...we want different things, for instance you want to have kids.” In England, we’d carefully tell him that it’s too late in the day for that old man, in Norway he takes to living in Dag’s hallway like an animal to escape his girlfriend’s murderous brothers who aren’t exactly pleased with him. With friends like that who needs social interaction, as they say in psych school (no kidding).
To try to help Dag out of his pit of despair, his sister Marianne (Silje Torp) is determined to fix him up with a woman. This isn’t an easy task and on dinner date 19, he gets to meet her friend, the beautiful Eva (Tuva Novotny). Will she stop him being a grumpy old git? Will she make him rethink his life is better alone ethos? Will this make us laugh at his predicaments?
Dag has a good mix of odd characters and situations that confirm psychologists and Norwegians are a funny lot. Certainly worth a watch whilst taking a break from Wallander or Lilyhammer.
DAG: SEASON 1 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: OYSTEIN KARLSEN, TUVA NOVOTNY / SCREENPLAY: OYSTEIN KARLSEN, KRISTOPHER SCHAU / STARRING: ALTE ANTONSEN, TUVA NOVOTNY, SILJE TORP, ANDERS BAASMO CHRISTIANSEN, AGNES KITTELSEN, ROLF LASSGARD / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW