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NBC’s ‘Kings’ Rules

March 9, 2009
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Imagine a book filled with the dramatic themes of betrayal, madness, infidelity, and corruption. Such a tome would make for a great Hollywood film or TV adaptation.

And it has. The Book of Samuel from the Old Testament is the source material for NBC’s new television series, "Kings," and it answers the question: What if the biblical story of David and Goliath took place in the 21st Century?

The setting of the series is an alternative world in a modern nation called Gilboa, and the head of state is a power-wielding king.

Tailored suits are worn instead of robes and sandals. On the battlefield, modern weapons take the place of swords and spears. Cars are the preferred mode of transportation rather than horses, and laptop computers trump quills and parchment.

When a young soldier, who is a small-town auto mechanic named David Shepherd (played by Chris Egan of “Eragon”) saves the life of the King’s son Jack (played by Sebastian Stan), he becomes a national hero.

Ian McShane, who is best known for HBO's critic fave “Deadwood,” plays the title role of King Silas Benjamin, the Saul character of the alternative universe. (After a quick review of the biblical Book of Samuel, McShane called it “a great read.”)

The sci-fi feel of the series comes courtesy of executive producers Michael Green, (“Heroes”) Erwin Stoff (“Heroes,” ”I Am Legend”) and Francis Lawrence (“Heroes,” “I Am Legend”). Lawrence also directed the pilot.

King Silas summons David to the capital to keep a close eye on him and exploit his popularity. The soldier is smitten with king's beautiful daughter Michelle (Allison Miller).

Queen Rose (Susanna Thompson) works to manipulate the media and keep David and Michelle apart.

The prophet has been transformed into a minister, the Rev. Samuels (Eamonn Walker), who conveys messages from the creator.

It is heartening to see the story of Israel's most famous king retold in such an engaging and compelling way.

The towering city skyline is familiar yet surreal. The acting, directing, and most of all, the writing, are feature film quality.

The Sunday evening time slot is sure to draw families, but there are a couple of things parents need to know.

As would be expected, the script takes writer’s license in modifying the Scriptures to fit into a modern parallel world. There’s a reference to healthcare in the kingdom and an implication as to the sexual orientation of the Jonathan character, Jack. And the subject matter (as recorded in the Old Testament) contains mature themes such as sexual references and violence.

“Kings” premieres March 15 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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