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Valhalla spin-off confirms Vikings’ jump from series to franchise

Those saddened by the conclusion to the sixth and final season of Vikings, the History Channel hit, will be enthused by the news that a sequel series is on the way. Admittedly, Vikings: Valhalla may not be far along the way just yet, with no casting announcements or production dates released, but there is tentative talk from Newsweek of the series hitting Netflix at some point in 2021. The production and release of the sequel demonstrate how Vikings is being elevated from a standalone television series into a modern heavyweight franchise.

An important time in history
Valhalla is slated to welcome viewers back into the world of the Vikings 100 years after the conclusion of the Vikings series finale. Valhalla will focus on the end of the age of the Vikings and a power struggle for the English throne, featuring plenty of real-life big hitters.

A battle to sit on the throne will no doubt provide countless opportunities for scheming, betrayals, and battles, so Valhalla may also help to scratch the itch of those bemoaning the absence of Game of Thrones. Here are a few of the famous names from history that are expected to play crucial roles in Valhalla.

William the Conqueror
The arrival of William the Conqueror will be bad news for viewers that want several more series of Vikings-related spin-offs, given that the Norman invader ends the Viking Age in England. William is the descendent of Rollo, portrayed by Clive Standen in Vikings, so there could be scope for Standen to appear in Valhalla in flashbacks or as some sort of Jedi-esque ghost.

Harold Godwinson
The arrival of William the Conqueror will also be particularly bad news for the character of Godwinson, given that Harold was slain at the Battle of Hastings when William claimed the British throne. Still, it would be interesting to get to know Godwinson before his untimely demise.

Harald Hardrada
Hardrada was not content with simply being King of Norway, so he staked a claim for the English throne by doing the most stereotypical Viking thing: invading. However, the incumbent king Godwinson would not relent so easily to an invading force (at least until William rocked up on English shores).

Freydís Eiríksdóttir and Leif Erikson
These Viking siblings were no strangers to adventure. Freydis is famous for her fighting exploits in Greenland, while brother Leif is purported to have beaten Christopher Columbus by hundreds of years to be the first European in North America. This duo may help to take Valhalla to intriguing new locations.

If these prospective characters don’t pique your interest, then the team behind Valhalla will no doubt have lined up some lesser-known or completely fictional beings to draw us into the world of the Vikings. The History Channel series introduced us to memorable individuals like Katheryn Winnick’s Lagertha and Travis Fimmel’s Ragnar Lothbrok, with the success of Vikings making stars of Winnick and Fimmel.

The start of a franchise
Vikings has generated positive reviews throughout its six-season run and created a devoted fanbase, which has helped to propel the Canadian actor Winnick to international fame. Valhalla will no doubt see new actors follow in her footsteps, while the weight of the Netflix name (and the depth of the Netflix budget) may also attract some established stars to come on board.


The sequel will be a pivotal step in turning the Vikings name from a television series into a global brand. Simply having a spin-off series is not sufficient to start a franchise, as it is also important to make moves in other media forms. The groundwork for this has already been done throughout the run of Vikings.

Here’s a quick look at how Vikings have already inspired creations in other forms of entertainment.

Comic book
Titan Comics has released comic books inspired by the television series since April 2016, including four-issue runs titled Godhead and Uprising. These graphic works feature the familiar faces of Lagertha, Ragnar and more, but they show an alternative side to the characters. While superhero shows pay tribute to comics, here it is comics that have been inspired by an original television series.

Online slot
Providing the theme for an online slot is normally reserved for the biggest names in television and cinema, so NetEnt’s Vikings slot is a testament to the global appeal of the show. The slot is part of the collection at Betway Slots where Lagertha and Ragnar are among the symbols on the reels. The Vikings slot also pays homage to Viking life in general, with Norse imagery and raiding bonus features making the slot feel like an extension of the TV show.

Card game
Vikings: Raid & Conquer from High Roller Games, a strategic deck-building card game inspired by the themes and characters of Vikings. Its 7.3 rating on Board Game Geek reflects the positive experience of players, with each person acting as a key character from Vikings and raiding for treasure. Just like NetEnt’s slot, players don’t necessarily need any prior knowledge of Vikings to fully appreciate the game.

Another central part of franchise-building is developing a passionate fanbase that engages with the show’s content. Podcasts are becoming one of the most effective ways for fans to feel connected to a wider community of like-minded people, so media like The Wild Hunt: A Vikings Podcast is important in strengthening a fanbase. This podcast follows a few devoted fans as they recap and analyze each episode of the History Channel series.

If the sequel series is a success, then it could be the first of many spin-offs bearing the Vikings name. Whether we delve deeper into the backstories of key characters or meet new civilizations, fans of Vikings will have hours upon hours of new entertainment ahead. What began as a simple series inspired by historical events has now given birth to a globally popular multimedia franchise.


Casino Confidential – Should There Be More Programming Like the 2012 Series?

It has been seven years since the release of Casino Confidential on TVtropolis, and memories of the reality series set in Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel in Las Vegas live long in the hearts of Canadian casino fans. The documentary series only ran for ten episodes, but its success in the North American country led TLC to pick it up and broadcast it to USA citizens. In the years since 2012, the gambling industry has boomed further. Indeed, revenues have surpassed $45 billion and are continuing to grow exponentially. Now could be the perfect time to revisit Binion’s, or perhaps create a similar series. Canadians, who love gambling and reality TV, would be sure to be grateful for a sequel.

What Was Casino Confidential About?
Casino Confidential was a fly-on-the-wall documentary centred on the players and staff at Binion’s Gambling Hall and Hotel, a bustling Las Vegas hotspot. The aim of the series was to provide viewers with a number of different perspectives within the casino. In the early episodes, there was heavy focus on one of the blackjack dealers. These are key staff members, and they need to have specific knowledge and training in order to do their jobs. When playing online, players can refer to information pages such as the Betway online blackjack guide. It tells them what to do in certain situations, such as when to double and split and how. When you’re playing in a land-based casino though, it is down to the dealer to give advice to players on what to do. For this reason, blackjack dealers are fountains of knowledge about the game in addition to great people skills.

By putting an emphasis on the dealers and croupiers, Casino Confidential was able to show a wide range of different customers sitting and playing the games at Binion’s. The Nevada city is renowned for attracting an eclectic mix of clientele, who come from all over the world. Over 42 million people visit Las Vegas each year, and all these different visitors from far-flung corners of the Earth make for interesting viewing. Some of the other segments of the documentary followed the dining staff, security, and the famous cowgirls who operate some of the table games.

Casino Confidential went down well in Canada, but it wasn’t to everyone’s taste. It pulled no punches and showed both the good and bad sides of the day-to-day running of a casino. When it aired in the USA, it wasn’t quite as popular. This is perhaps part of why the show wasn’t renewed for another season.

Canada Has a Lot of Similar Programming
Casino Confidential was always going to go down well in Canada, as Canadians love reality television. In fact, there have been 145 different reality TV shows on various networks throughout the 2010s. Big Brother Canada and Property Brothers are both vastly popular among the population.

Property Brothers from Cineflix has been running for 136 episodes since 2011 on W Network initially and then HGTV Canada from 2017. The series, which features Drew and Jonathan Scott as real estate and renovation experts, averages 2 million viewers per week and is one of the highest-rated shows on the network. It has sprouted a franchise which includes a web series, short films, an app and a radio show. Meanwhile, Big Brother Canada has been through seven editions since first airing in 2013. The series which is now hosted by Global has been consistently viewed by an average of over 1 million people per season since 2015.

These successful programs show how popular reality TV is in Canada and suggest that there is a market for more of the same. If another casino show was to come about, it could decide to take elements from these highly viewed shows. Big Brother has an element of competition to it, which could easily be replicated in the gaming scene. Property Brothers is all about turning ramshackle residences into extravagant abodes. This could be done with rundown casinos as well. Perhaps there’s a gap in the market for an Apprentice-style competition to see who can create and run the best casino?

What Other Casino-Based TV Series Have Been Successful?
Despite being one of the most popular pastimes in the world, casinos haven’t been represented well in television. There have been other documentaries such as The Player: Secrets of a Vegas Whale, and Bet Raise Fold, but none have been worldwide hits.

Las Vegas is one of the most notable series to have taken place in a casino. The series starred James Caan as head of operations at a fictional casino on The Strip. It was hugely popular, and lasted for five seasons before being cancelled by NBC. The series focused on the glitz and glamour of the casino world but also featured plenty of intrigue and action.

Casino Confidential may not be getting resurrected, but it does seem as though the time is ripe for a similar series. There have been a lot of developments in the industry since the documentary aired, and it would be interesting to see advancements in technology, such as virtual reality games, depicted on television. There is always a market for reality television in Canada, and something that involves gambling is sure to be well received.


Can learning superstitions teach you a country’s culture?

Most people across the world will be familiar with superstitions. A superstition is defined as “a widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially as leading to good or bad luck, or a practice based on such a belief.”

You’ll likely be familiar with superstitions such as the number 13 being particularly unlucky, or Friday the 13th being an unlucky double. You may also avoid stepping on cracks or walking under ladders. For the most part, these sorts of superstitions and unusual beliefs are passed off as being “foolish” or even “humorous” things that seem to be commonplace in every culture. But have you ever considered the use of superstitions and how they could actually be used as a learning tool?

Why Do People Believe in Superstitions?

In order to tap into the learning potential of a superstition, it’s important to consider how and why superstitions spread in the first place.

According to Lifehacker’s interview with Dr. Stuart Vyse, the author of multiple books of superstition, magic and why people believe in them, part of it is down to the fact that superstitions are taught to us when we are young. “They’re part of the lore of any culture. The basic process of socialization is a major part of it,” explains Dr Vyse. Dr Vyse also notes that superstitions emerge in contexts in which people cannot control things and so they use superstitions and odd beliefs as a sort of stand-in.

The popularity may also come as a result of superstitions being featured in popular culture. The CW’s Supernatural is all about extraordinary magical happenings and Syfy’s Superstition focuses on arcane weapons and magic. In Canada, Ron James has talked about traditions and superstitions, poking fun at them while multiple fledgling television shows including Blood Magick and Beowulf have also played it up. While these borrow heavily from existing superstitions, they also help these superstitions to spread.

What Are the Most Popular Superstitions Around the World?

We’ve already touched upon some common superstitions but there are plenty of popular ones to take a look at. One of the most well-known is the concept of lucky and unlucky numbers. According to Betway Casino’s research on the subject, these are rooted in real psychology, such as the number seven being seen as lucky because of the abundance of groups of seven (e.g. seven colours in the rainbow and seven days of the week). A whopping 25% of people surveyed in the UK said that the number seven was their lucky number.

Other popular superstitions include the concept of lucky charms, which are seen as an artifact or item that holds lucky properties. Cracked says that some weird lucky charms include the lucky rabbit foot, a lucky penny and a lucky four-leaf clover. There are also some lucky symbols, including lucky horseshoes and lucky fish, as well as the lesser-known lucky albatross, which is considered to be a good luck sign by sailors.

How Understanding Superstitions Teaches You About a Culture

When examining superstitions, it can actually inform a lot about a country and its culture. For example, four-leaf clovers are popular in Ireland because clovers are commonplace in the country but four-leaf clovers are rare (hence why finding one is seen as good luck). The lucky number seven is also rooted not just in psychology but also in Christian cultures and, so, where the lucky number seven is a popular idea, you can understand that the country’s culture has a huge connection to the Christian faith. The lucky symbol of a fish is also popular in Chinese, Hebrew, Tunisian, Ancient Egyptian, Indian, and Japanese cultures – in China, fish like the Arowana are specifically seen as lucky because the fish resembles the dragon, an animal in the Chinese zodiac.

On the one hand, superstitions can provide a greater understanding of a culture, how it works, as well as its traditions and its history, greatly enriching your experience of a place. But, on the other, it can lead to more questions as you explore and find out more about where these symbols and items can be found and how popular these different superstitions are.


Poker Nights, Dating, and Striking: The Lowdown On the Most Close-knit Comedy Casts

Getting on well with the people you work with just makes life a whole lot easier. According to a recent poll from Gallup, 51% of workers aren’t engaged in their work and feel no real connection or joy in what they do on a daily basis. Having fun at work and getting along with your co-workers is crucial for making you feel good, and if there’s one industry where that matters more than arguably anywhere else, it’s comedy! Heck, even if your comedic role means that you aren’t meant to be friends on screen (we’re thinking of the classic foes Jim and Dwight in the American Office here), the chances are you’ll need to be able to have a laugh together off-screen about the fictional bickers you’ve just had, otherwise there is a serious risk that you’re going to end up making a show that is about as engaging as the final season of X Factor USA was. So, how have cast members from some of the biggest comedies over the years managed – or not – to stick together?

Sticking Together: The American Office
Liking each other and being able to have a laugh is, of course, central to getting on, but Steve Carell managed to take things a step further to help endear himself to the rest of the cast. Not only did he make the TV news headlines when he chose to support the 2007 writers’ strike (something that showed unity beyond the acting cast) but he also didn’t use the fame he earned from the release and success of 2005’s 40-Year-Old Virgin film, which grossed 177.4 million USD at the box office, to abandon his role as Michael.

Steve Carell may have helped to keep members of the cast together, but it was the relationship between Jim and Pam that helped this show earn 42 Primetime Emmy Award nominations. Their blossoming on-screen relationship was helped by the fact that, in her own words, Jenna Fischer acknowledged that she developed a genuine bond with John Krasinski. Sadly for US Office superfans (of which there seem to be many), this love did not translate from the small screen to real life, as both actors are now happily married… to other people! This does highlight, though, that turning “fake” love into, at the very least, genuine affection and a real bond in real life can reap dividends on screen. In the case of Jim and Pam, it helped to boost the two actors’ earnings from $20,000 each per episode to $100,000 as the show grew more successful and NBC generated more money from it.

Not Just “Friends”, but Actual Friends!
Another group of actors who got on well and reaped the financial rewards as a result was the cast of Friends. While many people would perhaps imagine that the title of the show precluded the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc and even Courteney Cox-Arquette from having anything to do with each other outside the show, the truth is that it all got a little bit close in real life to “The One in Vegas,” an unforgettable episode as one of the many highlights of casino portrayal in popular culture. In fact, according to a recent interview with Jennifer Aniston, whose illustrious list of previous sponsorships includes Emirates and L’Oreal, the gang were encouraged to meet up outside of the confines of filming and they inevitably ended up playing poker together. The strategy-heavy game, which famously involves bluffing and “poker faces” is generally considered to be a very good bonding activity, and that’s what the crew was going for: a quick, effective way to get the cast to bond. It certainly worked out well enough: Aniston and Co. ended up in a position where they received $1 million each to appear in every episode of the final season!

Becoming More Than Just Friends: The Inbetweeners
One cult comedy show that always made it easy to imagine the cast bonding in real life was British hit comedy The Inbetweeners. The show managed to produce two film cast-offs (the second of which generated a then-record £2.75 million during the opening weekend at the UK box office), and much of this success built upon the lovable characters’ inability to date, making episodes more awkward than a super-cringy exchange in Dragons’ Den! Off-screen, things went a little smoother, as two of the show’s characters, Simon and Tamara (who dated (terribly) on the show) have ended up getting engaged. This goes to show that on-screen relationship failures don’t necessarily end up in real-life failures!

How to Survive The Ups and Downs: The Big Bang Theory
Getting on well and even dating off-screen is a wonderful sign that the cast is getting on, but perhaps a bigger test comes when the members of the cast don’t just date but break up as well. This happened on The Big Bang Theory, one of the biggest comedy shows in the USA, with around 12.6 million total viewers tuning in to see the cliffhanger final episode of season 10. Indeed, while Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki have had on-screen success in their relationship, they seem to have managed to find a way to move on from the break-up of their real-life relationship, with Johnny hugging Kaley’s partner during a visit to the set.

Of course, the true test is not just surviving breakups and living together on the set while filming, but also meeting up once the show has ended. The cast of Scrubs, for instance, reunited and documented their meeting, showing that while the show doesn’t always go on, the friendships made during them can certainly endure!


Bubbles is a Rock Star: Mike Smith’s Life in Music

If you are a fan of Trailer Park Boys, you have to admit that Bubbles is one of the greatest characters in TV history. He is Sunnyvale’s most awkward and peculiar resident, but also perhaps the most heartwarming. You cannot help but get the feels for this shed dwelling, feline fanatic, mumble-mouth in thick Coke bottle glasses. Bubbles is also the perfect foil to Ricky and Julian’s endless parade of dumb schemes and shenanigans.

But life does not imitate art in, well, real life for Mike Smith, the actor who has portrayed Bubbles since the debut of Trailer Park Boys in 2001. Between his role on the show and his true persona, Smith is a bit of an expert at living a double life, seamlessly shifting between total nerd and cool guy.

Cool guy as in rock star cool.

Smith’s adventures in rock n’ roll predate Bubbles, Jim Lahey, and the rest of the gang at Sunnyvale Trailer Park. Hailing from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Smith began playing pretty early on. Around age 20, he formed a cover band called Sandbox Legacy in 1992. The band soon morphed into an alternative rock unit, writing and performing original songs.

In short order, the band dropped “legacy” from the title and became Sandbox, releasing the independent EP Maskman in 1993. It was a brilliant capture of the 90s rock sound, balancing ethereal acoustic numbers with crunchy, aggressive guitar driven songs.

With a lineup of Smith and Jason Archibald on guitars, Scott MacFarlane on bass, drummer Troy Shanks, and lead vocalist Paul Murray — a relative of iconic singer Anne Murray — Sandbox attracted major label attention early on. The band eventually signed with EMI in Canada and Nettwerk in the USA and dropped Bionic, their first full-length album in 1995.

The riff heavy, shimmery single “Curious” achieved regular airplay on a number of outlets including MuchMusic, propelling the song to #8 on the Canada Alternative chart. The album subsequently yielded the singles “Collide” and “Here and There” to positive critical and audience receptions, netting the band a nomination for Best New Group at the 1996 Juno Awards.

Sandbox followed up the success with the release of A Murder at the Glee Club in 1997, an ambitious concept album about a killer grappling with his actions. The band members decided to part ways in the years after A Murder at the Glee Club to pursue divergent interests, clearing the way for Smith to focus on his acting and join the Trailer Park Boys cast. The rest, as they say, is history.

But Smith has continued to keep one foot in music during his decade-and-a-half as Bubbles, often appearing as the beloved character. Case in point is the comedy rock group Bubbles & the Sh*t Rockers, which features Smith and none other than all-time guitar hero Alex Lifeson of Rush. Their music can be heard in the film Trailer Park Boys: The Movie.

Smith, once again as Bubbles, even shared the stage with Guns N’ Roses at tour stops in 2010 and 2011. It seems the proprietor of The Kittyland Love Center has a way of rubbing shoulders with rock royalty. The moral of the story, as demonstrated by Smith’s multiple talents, is to never pigeonhole the strange, cat-obsessed guy in the trailer park. Despite his nerdy appearance, he just might be a musical genius.

Main image: Wikimedia.