Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, A Bad Omen

by Irma Arkus

Can Nikolaj Coster-Waldau be called a bad omen for TV? Probably. But the streak of bad luck could be ending for this rising actor.

Not that I have anything against the guy. After all, his first lead was in New Amsterdam, as the leading protagonist cursed with immortality, seeking nothing more than true love. A la “Grey’s Anatomy meets Highlander.” But the show was so slow-paced that it literally bored me to tears. And it exhibited similar properties with other viewers, promptly causing its cancellation.

I presume that Fox counted on Waldau to exibit properties of catnip for the ladies, who would in heads of executives, come back week after week to swoon over the tough yet sensitive and handsome man / detective, looking for love. But in reality, Waldau, though probably a beaming and handsome example of humanity, made less of an impression on female audiences. Something to do with the general overtones of the show and additional casting choices, which assuredly left me cold and uninterested.

But then something else happened in Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s life – he was cast for Ronald D. Moore’s “Virtuality,” as one of lead characters. Sure he dies in the pilot, but seems to reappear in a twisty, Twin Peaks kind of way.

Unluckily, “Virtuality” was so damn similar to “Defying Gravity,” a show literally pitched to executives as “Grey’s Anatomy in space,” that it made “Virtuality” stand no chance.

I can vouch though, for the fact that Virtuality *is* a better show.

For one Virtuality was smarter. Unlike Defying Gravity, it had clear corporate influence on the ship’s crew. Another aspect that made it for a more interesting show is that not everyone got along on the ship. There were extramarital sexual encounters during the mates private virtual time, and acts of unthinkable violence took place in this unlikeliest of hideouts. Even rape was committed against one of the crew.

Unlike “Defying Gravity,” “Virtuality” also had a far more interesting cast: two crew members were homosexual, and the engineer was a disgruntled man who lost use of his lower limbs and was actually disabled using a wheelchair.

Moreover, the Earth they left was a far more messed up world, ravaged by corporate influence and ecological doom.

Virtuality overall seemed to have a lot more storytelling “meat,” and of the uneasy kind. Unlike Defying Gravity, which seems to persistently occupy a relatively safe and sterile universe in comparison, Virtuality had many elements that left me feeling intrigued and uneasy. As for “Defying Gravity,” I fear that as soon as they uncover the true nature of Beta, the intrigue of the show is pretty much over. But I digress…

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is now joining the cast of “Game of Thrones.” Produced by HBO and based on the most excellent epic fantasy series by George R. R. Martin, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” the show is meant to bring some high quality fantasy to small screens.

Already casting for “Game of Thrones” is underway, and Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, Mark Addy and Harry Lloyd are attached to the project. Now, they are joined by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who is obviously sporting a glowing, “bad luck bunny” halo.

The fact that Game of Thrones will be undoubtedly dripping with cool comes with HBO territory. But I also hope it lasts. And for that I am looking at you Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.