I had the chance to catch NBC’s new show Kings in streaming HD online last night. I had caught some commercials here and there and the press that I had read made it seem like the show was just about an alternate-reality ‘America’ that is a monarchy. The premise seemed interesting enough but the main draw, for me, is that the king in the show is played by none other than the great Ian McShane, who had done incredible work as Deadwood‘s Al Swearengen. I was antsy to see him get his own on a major television network.
Little did I know what I was in for. I should’ve put 2 and 2 together. When I read that the enemy was from a place called Gath, I thought in the back of my mind, “Isn’t that the name of a Phillistine city? You know, from the Old Testament?”. As I started watching, the first thing I noticed was that Ian McShane’s character, King Silas Benjamin, looked exactly like King Saul. Not that I’ve seen King Saul per se, but I distinctly remember seeing him graphically represented in The Picture Bible as a youngster. If you’ve ever read The Picture Bible, you know that you can always tell which characters are corrupted by sin by way of artist’s representation. When the crowd got rowdy at Babel, the art took on a more sinister cast and the characters looked darker, more pockmarked and dangerous. King Saul was always represented as a dark, brooding, menacing monarch and the king in the show looked just like that.
Enter the youthful exuberence of the main character, David Shepherd. He’s a ruddy good looking young man, youngest of six brothers working humbly as a mechanic back home…and his mother’s name is Jesse. At this point, I started getting a hint that the show is a modernized representation of the story of David and his rise to Kingship in Israel. Oh, and apparently he’s a country bumpkin classically trained in piano.
The story starts at about 1 Samuel 13, when everything goes awry for King Saul. Instead of explaining my thoughts in a moment-by-moment analysis, I’ll let you guys gather your own thoughts on the show. There are some things to be earmarked from the first episode, like the King’s discussion of the evolutionary process as a tool of God, and the King’s firstborn son Jack’s reputation as a public womanizer and closet homosexual, that might rub you the wrong way. I feel like they did a good job updating the story from antiquity, and I’ve always said the Old Testament would make a spectacular Hollywood drama too gory and too racy for a tame Christian interpretation, and if anything, this show will create an awareness (albeit skewed) of Biblical history. And I have to admit, I’m anticipating how the rest of the story plays out and how long this show will eventually run.
Beware. There are some cheese-filled moments. Like the crown of butterflies representing kingship and anointing. Look at that silly grin.