‘Kings’-makers hope their NBC series gets royal ratings

[12 March 2009]

By Rick Bentley

McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

Some television shows are easy to explain. “CSI” is about those who collect clues. “Law & Order” focuses on catching and prosecuting criminals.

“Kings” is not so simple.

Here’s how it is being described: The new NBC drama series is an ancient tale told in modern times. It is about leaders who are not as much selected by popular vote or lineage as by the hand of God. It is based on Biblical writings, but it is a simple secular story of power.

The only thing perfectly clear is that the show launches with a two-hour offering at 8 p.m. EDT March 15.

Let’s let the show’s creator, Michael Green, explain “Kings.”

“It seemed like it was time to do the modern-day David and Goliath. These are stories that have been out there for a long time and no one’s touched on them. And they’ve always sort of been in the back of my mind, and I thought this was the time to do it,” Green says.

“Kings” was introduced to critics way back in July, but it has taken almost eight months for the short series to hit the schedule. That’s no surprise because it took some time to get the NBC executives to understand the concept. When Green pitched the idea for the series, he got some weird reactions.

“Yeah, there were some looks. There were some cocked brows. ‘You want to do what?’ But, NBC was really inviting. I was working at the time on a show called ‘Heroes,’ and we’d just done a scene where a guy came back from the future to tell someone to save the cheerleader and (we) thought, well, that worked. May as well try something, you know, crazy,” Green says.

The David who inspired “Kings” battled the giant Goliath with only a slingshot and a rock. In this updated version, David Shepherd (Christopher Egan) is a soldier in the country of Gilboa. Goliath is a tank from neighboring Gath. The countries are at war.

An encounter between David and the tank makes him a war hero. Those of you who have read the Bible know David is destined for bigger and better things.

Gilboa is ruled by King Silas Benjamin (Ian McShane). He makes some bad decisions based on the urging of big business (think the Devil) that puts his rule in jeopardy.

Executive producer Francis Lawrence stresses the best way to understand “Kings” is to focus on how both the hero and the king are complicated people.

“One of the things that interested me is that David is one of the most classic heroes of all time and one of the most complicated,” Lawrence says. “He starts out as a real innocent and becomes a very complex person later on. So there’s lots of room for growth.”

David has 13 episodes in which to grow. The only prayer “Kings” has for more episodes is if it attracts enough viewers.

The producers continue to talk about how much inspiration they got from the Biblical writings. Then, as if to add one last bit of confusion, Lawrence says the show will be accessible to atheists because “This is not a religious show.”

“One of the things that attracted me is it’s the classic hero journey,” he says. “It’s a story about people and emotion, and it has ideas, and there is a magic to the world and to whether or not you call that God or you call that something else. That’s what exists there.”

So, let’s recap: This is a new series with characters and stories based on a religious writings, but it is not strictly religious. They live in a country that may or may not exist in modern times. This land is filled with familiar items but not to the point they fall into pop culture. Oh, and there are lots and lots of butterflies.

In comparison, “Lost” seems juvenile.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/article/71539-kings-beginning-sunday-on-nbc/