Home Entertainment Canneseries Wacky Norwegian Post-Apocalypse Comedy ‘Dumbsday’ boarded by Primitives (EXCLUSIVE)

Canneseries Wacky Norwegian Post-Apocalypse Comedy ‘Dumbsday’ boarded by Primitives (EXCLUSIVE)

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Norwegian broadcaster NRK has excelled in recent years at bringing bold and thought-provoking shows to the world. After their latest Canneseries winners “Power Play” (2023), “Afterglow” (2022), “Countrymen” (2021) and “State of Happiness” (2018), their latest bet “Dumbsday” (“Dummedag”) has its international premiere April 8 in the French TV festival’s main competition. It first aired on the Norwegian pubcaster Nov. 2, 2023.

The 10 x 30-minute show described by Variety as “‘Idiocracy’ meets ‘Day of the Dead’ is handled worldwide by Belgium-based Primitives which recently closed multi-territory deals in Europe on NRK’s other comedy show, “Cammo”.

“We pride ourselves on seeking out distinctive formats and programming which will translate well across the international landscape,” said Primitives’ sales and acquisition manager Emma Gosling.

“Norway has long been a leader for its creativity and innovation, so when we acquired ‘Dumbsday’ towards the end of last year, we knew it would reach international audiences with its universal humour. It has been a fantastic inclusion in Primitives’ carefully curated scripted lineup, and we’re thrilled that it’s receiving recognition at Canneseries, on top of the Rockie Awards in Banff,” she added.

The post-apocalyptic comedy “Dumbsday” tells of six oddballs who join forces to save the world from a potent virus that makes people stupid, to the point where they can die from their own stupidity and turn into dim-witted zombies. The six unlikely heroes reluctantly take on the task of bringing the only vaccine against the plague of idiots to a safe place, where Norway’s smartest minds have sought refuge.

Behind the high concept show is Seefood TV, one of Norway’s biggest factories of comedy and TV reality hits (“Santas in the Hay,” “Kompani Lauritsen,” “Couples Therapy”), writer Christopher Pahle, credited for Seefood’s 2019 Canneseries entry “Christmas on Blood Mountain” and helmer Erlend Westnes (“Kollektivet”).

Toplining the cast are Jakob Schøyen Anderson (“Kollektivet”) as the self-absorbed musician and poet Frode Duun, Henrik Mestad (“Furia”, “Occupied”) as dooms prepper Perry, Kristine Grændsen (“Basic Bitch”) as “the typical Norwegian girlwho wants everyone to get along and probably hides a dark side” according to Pahle, Cengiz AL (“Three Wishes for Cinderella”) as personal trainer Jokke, Charlotte Frogne (“Dead Snow”) as businesswoman Trine, and Elli Müller Osborne (“Utoya: July 22”, “Royalteen”) as the sombre Thea who joins the group to check which one of them will dies first.

“All characters are stupid in different ways,” said Pahle, who together with his creative team, set about expanding the definition of being stupid, “which is to do something not in your interest.”

“Dumbsday” Creation

Westnes said he first came up with the idea to do a show about the end of the world in 2017-2018. “I love the apocalypse genre and started thinking-what if…”

“Yes we thought that if the apocalypse came about, we wouldn’t last a second, as we live in a society where everything is handed out,” added Pahle.

“We started writing in spring 2018 and went to NRK who liked the idea. We wrote 7 of 10 scripts and were waiting for the final greenlight, when COVID hit,” he recalled.

The project had to be delayed and scripts revised. “We saw that the actual pandemic made us a lot more stupid and irrational than we had imagined so we felt we had to do rewrites.”

The idea for the virus that would hit human brains and make people stupid came from NRK executive producer Marit Støre Valeur, according to Pahle. “That immediately created an extra layer to the apocalypse theme, with stupid zombies, roaming around and behaving like kids.”
For Pahle, mixing genres was self-evident.

“If you want true comedy, you need real drama; you need to believe in the characters in the moment, to actually care for them. Then we wanted the zombies to be really scary and the sad moments to be very sad, so that the audience would embrace the moments. As long as you know what you’re doing, you can mix genres,” he stated.

“Everything starts with the characters,”,Westnes picked up. “If they feel real, they have goals and purpose, then it’s a lot easier, because you start to see the world from their perspective. Then the plot mechanics and the drama come on top.”

For the director, balancing comedy and drama is a “tightrope walk.” “Sometimes the drama can take too much space and you lose the comedy, or vice versa. It’s challenging but I find it more interesting.”

Asked whether a returning season was in the works, both Pahle and Westnes said they had “lots of ideas”, but nothing was confirmed. “We also have the premise for a feature film, if it comes to that,” added Pahle.

Primitives also handles Seefood TV’s series “Fling” – a romantic dramedy about screwing-and screwing up, and the 2023 Festival de la Fiction de la Rochelle’s competition entry “What Happened to Solveig.”