Review: NBC’s Kings – A True Epic

Rarely does a television series come along that challenges the norms, takes things a step further from what we already see.  Television is a hit and miss industry in the first place.  When a high concept series comes along, it is an even tougher sell.  That’s why it is such a rare occurrence when shows like Lost and Heroes break through.

Though for every breakthrough hit, there’s probably 5 other shows that fail.  Which is very unfortunate, because there such creative, well-written, well-produced, and well-acted shows that go unnoticed.  This isn’t a new phenomenon, but it doesn’t make it any less sad.

But let’s not talk about the crazy world we call network television.  Let’s talk about NBC’s Kings.

While judging from the premiere ratings, Kings will most likely (and very unfortunately) fall into that latter category described above.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the 13 episodes while we can.

Kings has been described as a modern re-imagining (something NBC Universal loves doing, to varying degrees of success) of the Bible story of David and Goliath.  Now, I’ve been to Catholic school all my life, but I couldn’t even tell you anything about the story other than the big guy got beat.

But I guess that shows that you don’t need to have any knowledge of the Bible story to get into the story.  The basic premise, a modern day monarchy in the fictional nation of Gilboa.   The series opens with the country glued to their television sets as King Silas Benjamin dedicates the new capital of Shiloh, the shining beacon in what appears to be rebuilding of Gilboa after the Reunification War.  Silas is well loved by the people, the family resembling any real life monarchy in the spotlight, only Silas has absolute rule.

You stand up from the parliament/board room table before him, you’re dead.  Literally.

But he’s also a family man.  He cooks breakfast for his family and we find out that he’s got another family on the side.  That’s not to say his wife, the Queen is a push over.  There were flashes of conniving and bitchy, with a “I will do anything for my family’s gain” attitude.  She’s probably more dangerous than anyone in the King’s court or associated conglomerates.

On the other side of financial spectrum, we have David Shepherd and his family.  He is a nice, young country boy that grew up on the farm with a big family.  The series begins with him and his family watching the dedication of Shiloh on television.  That day, a mysterious man (who turns out to be a very influential figure in Gilboa) comes to their farm with a car that won’t start. and after David does some MacGyver work under the hood gets it started.  The man gives David a pocket watch, on the back the official butterfly emblem of the country.

Flash forward two years later, David is in the trenches along the border of Gilboa and Gath with his brother.  And through a stunning series of events David is declared a hero and is whisked away to the capital.  Unknowingly, he had saved the Prince who was being held by Gath forces along with another soldier.

The Prince, Jack, has a reputation for being a playboy, a young guy seen in the clubs with a woman on each arm.  We learn that he joined the military because being a war hero is part of his path to becoming King according to him and his mother.  But, that’s not all with him.  In addition to him being a little hostile towards David throughout, we learn he isn’t exactly like the persona he seems to be known for.

And then there is his sister Michelle, who is passionate about health care and issues that aren’t particularly high on her father’s priority list, immediately hits it off with David.

So we set up the premise for the rest of the series.  Silas sees David as a new face to the monarchy, someone the people can relate to.  That is until the final shot of the two-hour premiere where the King is shocked by what he sees.

For years, Silas has told the story of a crown of butterflies sitting atop his head, a sign from God that signaled he was chosen as King.  Now it was never clear whether or not Silas’ story actually happened, but now it was… only not to him.

Silas sees David through the window at Gilboa’s answer to Martha’s Vineyard.  A swarm of Monarch butterflies come flying around David and then rest in a perfect circle atop his head, much like a crown.

Two hours of visually stunning cinematography, outstanding cast, and excellent writing… this deserves to be a hit.  But alas, by whatever factors, barring any miracles, all we might get to see is the 13 hours.  Just one season of a series that is not like anything else on network TV.

Enjoy it while we can, I guess.  We might not have it (or really anything like it) for very long.

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