ABC attempts to woo the Christian demographic with a swords-and-sandals biblical epic, but the plotting is incoherent and the acting less than miraculous
Whats the name of this show? Of Kings and Prophets.
When does it premiere? Tuesday 8 March at 10pm ET on ABC.
Wasnt it supposed to premiere this fall? Yes, ABC delayed its premiere until now so it could recast some roles and install Narcos showrunner Chris Brancato at the helm.
What is this show about? A king is trying to unite the disparate houses of the realm to thwart an attacking army full of giants. Hes fighting prophecies that say he isnt the true king; meanwhile, his scheming wife is mostly interested in maintaining his own power.
This sounds exactly like Game of Thrones. Its not. Its the Bible.
Say what? Yes, the king is Saul (Ray Winstone), who is trying to defend a newly formed Israel against the Philistines and their enormous general Goliath. The prophet is Samuel (Mohammad Bakri), who says that God (or Elohim, as they call him) no longer wants Saul as a ruler and instead anoints David (Olly Rix), a shepherd who has gained fame in the kingdom for killing a lion.
Is this a craven attempt to lure in Christian viewers? It seems like ABC wants to have its cake and eat its communion wafers too. But in recasting the Bible as something more akin to Gladiator, it hopes to get the huge audience History Channels The Bible pulled in 2013 (about 12 million) and also to lure in those who can be fooled into thinking this is an action-adventure show.
What happens in the premiere? Im not entirely sure. I was 20 minutes into the pilot and I had not a clue what was happening. There are so many characters, kingdoms, and battles introduced at the same time that the first half of the program is a blur of dirty faces and leather armor. But I did attend Sunday school, so I think that David kills a lion to save his family from debt to the royal family and gains favor with Saul and his power-hungry wife Ahinoam (Simone Kessell). The queen gives him a job playing the harp as a reward for his bravery.
Meanwhile, Saul is raising arms against the Philistines and is trying to unite the 12 tribes of Israel against them. His is going to solidify this pact by marrying his daughter Merav (former So You Think You Can Dance winner Jeanine Mason) to a prince of Judea, except the Philistines, threatening the alliance, kill the prince before the wedding. Saul also falls out of favor with the prophet Samuel, who had anointed him king in the first place, saying that the cruel Saul has lost the favor of Elohim.
That sounds really confusing. It is, and the story isnt really worth investing in, particularly since anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the Bible already knows how it turns out.
Is it real Jesus-y? Actually its not Jesus-y at all, since the focus is on the Old Testament. But yes, there is a lot of discussion about the will of God and how the different characters need to be on the right side of it. Its one of those things that is easy to ignore for the secular audience, especially since the prophesies are treated more like magic visions than religious experiences, but it will really stand out for the churchgoing crowd.
Is it good? There are some scenes, particularly those set in the craggy wilderness (the exteriors were shot in South Africa), that are absolutely stunning. The big battles are fairly expansive as well, though they look like any big budget network miniseries, which has more dust than literary ambition. But all the costumes, makeup, and fancy hair wont cover up the fact that the narrative is sloppy, the acting over-the-top and the overall structure a bit confounding.
Of Kings and Prophets is obviously trying to be like Game of Thrones, but it pings from one Biblical event to the next without offering anything more than a cursory assessment of the motivations for any of the characters or the dynamics of their relationships. Thats what makes Game of Thrones so interesting: the complex intricacies of the gears of power that grind to make kings. Well, that and dragons. Of Kings and Prophets is a sanitized but shoddier version of that, and more of a bodice-ripping potboiler than Game of Thrones, with all of its sexposition, could ever be.
Should I watch this show? Unless you are an avid churchgoer whose needs are being underserved by the heathens in Hollywood, then I suggest avoiding this like Lot avoided looking back at Sodom.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us