I ended my review of Welcome to Sweden on a semi-snarky but also earnest note: "Lagom är bäst. That would have been good advice for the show to take. Don't try so hard at times. But maybe things will find a way to work themselves out in the long run, if the show has one."

I had held great hopes for the show—a pedigree combination of Sweden, America, and NBC's great sitcom record—and not wanting to be disappointed a second time I waited until last Friday to watch episode one again and immediately thereafter episode two.


While sex is usually a great source for amusement and pleasure, I found it lacking on both counts in the latest chapter of the Poehler does Sweden feuilleton.

Bruce, our American fish out of water, is essentially cornered by his beautiful Swedish girlfriend, Emma, who wants to have sex anywhere and everywhere and anytime. This is a great premise for a comedy aimed at teens or fans of American Pie. They would appreciate such moments as when Emma is about to perform oral sex on Bruce in the dining room with the china cabinet where Viveka, Emma's mom, in episode one complained that Bruce was short and therefore she was placing the dishes on the bottom rack of the cabinet. Into 22 minutes the show manages to squeeze in moments of thwarted sex in Emma's brother's bunk bed, a pullout sofa inside the living room, inside the bunkhouse, and finally a hotel room. I may have forgotten one or two other instances. I complained in my initial review that the show was trying too hard. This time Welcome to Sweden really lived up to expectations.

So Woody Allen's A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy or Ingmar Bergman's Smiles of a Summer Night Welcome to Sweden is not, nor was meant to be. Fortunately, a few sophisticated and worthwhile moments managed to make their way into or stay in the Poehler show's clipped 22 minutes. Lena Olin as Viveka, Emma's mother, displays comedic talent with a sharp edge not only when it comes to cinnamon buns (speaking of American Pie) but by indulging in a hat fetish, this time a captain's, and one wonders if this is a nod to her appearance in the seminal The Unbearable Lightness of Being. One can only hope, or the writers, and many viewers along with them, will want to follow the motto of the name of the NBC comedy Just Shoot Me!

Will Ferrell is amazing as an American, former client of Bruce's, married to a Swedish wife (also in real life by the way). He shows restraint, as any time it would have been easy for him to launch into Anchorman or his high-energy on-screen personae. It is almost disappointing he does not begin to twitch in this toned-down performance, which is just right. Ferrell as the man who turns accountant Bruce onto learning Swedish evokes smiles, chuckles, and laughter. It should be noted that one great source from which comedy derived is words, and how one says them is everything. Thank Thor they brought Will Ferrell to visit!

Pappa Birger once again displays his talent without making a show out of it. He too knows how to say things so that the word "hammer" and "bow saw" can be funny. Let's just hope that for the sake of all of us, no matter our nationalities, Welcome to Sweden will in future episodes say no more often to juvenile sexual and potty humor. That would be really nice. Or at least a comfort, like the Dala horse to Pappa Birger.

Ulf Kirchdorfer

Reac Ulf's review after episode 1 here: Review: Welcome to Sweden .. To be funny or not .. therein lies the rub.