- Sundays, 10 p.m., History
For its first-ever scripted drama series, Vikings, History has enlisted The Tudors creator Michael Hirst to bring that show’s history-plus-sex-and-violence approach to eighth-century Norsemen. Since this is basic cable, the sex has to be toned down (these Vikings do a lot more pillaging than raping), but the formula is pretty much the same, using salaciousness as the spoonful of sugar to help the historical medicine go down. Unfortunately, the repetitive violent acts get old pretty quickly, and the dull plot and stilted dialogue (filled with awkward historical exposition) can’t fill in the gaps. There are decent performances (including Gabriel Byrne as a conniving chieftain) and occasional moments that bring history to life, but most of the show is plodding and stone-faced. Vikings suffers from the same affliction as other cable networks’ first-time “serious” drama launches, capturing the look (lots of muted colors and shaky camerawork) and tone of acclaimed, weighty dramas without delivering on the complex, interesting characters or engrossing plot developments.