Friday, March 13, 2009

'Kings' review - Sepinwall on TV

In today's column, I review NBC's "Kings," which I found interesting but which I'm not sure I actually liked:
In "Kings," NBC's contemporary re-imagining of the Old Testament story of David, Goliath and King Saul, Goliath is an enemy tank, the slingshot is a grenade duct-taped to a wrench and the king's son is party-boy magnet for the paparazzi.

The concept of translating classic tales into a modern context is by now so familiar that it's almost a surprise when a new Shakespeare adaptation isn't set in the 21st century. But where a project like Fox's short-lived "Skin" ("Romeo and Juliet" in the LA porn industry, complete with Ron Silver barking, "His father is the district attorney!"), borrows the traditional framework and little more, what sets "Kings" apart -- for good and maybe for ill -- is how faithful it tries to stay to both the content and the spirit of the original.
To read the full thing, click here. I'll have a separate post for the pilot episode on Sunday night.

12 comments:

EOTW said...

Well, I want this to be a good one. The promos don't give me the sense it will be, but I'm an Ian McShane for years back (in an alternate world, he'd be John Locke on LOST). He deserves a great show after they pulled DEADWOOD out from under him. He's an incredibly talented man and I'll watch this, even if I DVR it first.

That it's on NBC gives me no comfort at all. Anything challenging gets axed. Expect the full series on DVD by the fall. Cynical? Pretty much. Right? Let's hope not.

Craig Ranapia said...

In today's column, I review NBC's "Kings," which I found interesting but which I'm not sure I actually liked

And you've sold me right there... I'll put it this way: I didn't make up my mind about 'Six Feet Under' until about three quarters of the way through the first season, but at least it was a show that was trying (and often trying so damn hard it was painful to watch it fail) something other than my patience.

Hatfield said...

Count me among the McShane sycophants, as his Al Swearengen is, in my opinion, the most memorable character ever. So I'll watch this and hope for the best. Plus, Eamonn Walker is interesting too.

I don't suppose Silas monologues to any decapitated heads or, er, heads of other sorts?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I don't suppose Silas monologues to any decapitated heads or, er, heads of other sorts?

No, but Brian Cox does guest star in the second episode as an old acquaintance of the king's.

Steve B said...

Count me among those who is interested in watching this show. A lot of great shows don't always have terribly likeable pilot episodes. It takes time for a show to find its voice, pacing, characters, etc. At least this show is starting somewhere interesting and is taking a few chances. I'll take that over the mindless procedurals that dominate TV today.

Hatfield said...

Oh, Alan, that tidbit just sent my dork rating sky high. Now I'm in for two weeks, at least. Intentional casting because of their chemistry on Deadwood? In any case, good call by the show runner(s).

pgillan said...

"...much of the dialogue is deliberately theatrical -- if not Biblical, then at least grasping for Shakespearean."

This reminds me of something I found really interesting about Deadwood, and I always wondered if it was just me: I couldn't follow the dialogue if I concentrated on it. I had to force myself to relax and get the gist of what the characters were saying. I've always thought of it as Shakespearean, because I've heard similar things said about traditional Shakespeare.

Pamela Jaye said...

Apparently my church stopped quoting from the bible a good while before I left it, because lately I've found myself reaching in my head for scriptures that are no longer quite there (and technically before they did *that,* they switched translations, which interfered with my ability to learn stuff I wasn't really studying but just heard repeatedly (a friend and I, at a bible quiz at a party we were at were once "accused" of "study[ing] together - but I didn't study, I just showed up at church and my ears came with me.))

Anyway, I always liked David and Jonathan (in fact, those two are among the very few boys names I like at all) and their Guy Love.
I just have the feeling that these days it'll be less easy to catch it when the plot strays from the original.

Does David seem very David-like?
I could never figure out why David was so very loyal to "God's anointed", and yet he had a whole bunch of people following *him.*
(i'm still trying to decide if I should put quotes around "loyal")

krystle-ab said...

It has an Aussie in it... I'll give it a go.

EOTW said...

Steve B says:

A lot of great shows don't always have terribly likeable pilot episodes. It takes time for a show to find its voice, pacing, characters, etc."

EOTW:

Steve, that's the problem. Even if this is a good show in the making, major networks (especially NBC don't give them a chance to develop. They'll pull the plug on this even if there is better eps down the pipe. They just don't care about storytelling anymore. And why should they, when America is watching CSI and Idol instead of dramatic storytelling as a viable entertainment any more?

Mark my words: LOST is the LAST great serial we will see on network television for some time. The days are long gone where shows could tell ther stories at an easy pace.

Oaktown Girl said...

Well I've been waiting for "Kings" for quite some time because of Ian McShane. I'm also quite fond of Susanna Thompson, so that's also a plus. Eamonn Walker too? I really liked him "Oz", plus he was total eye candy. (I hope he gets to be eye candy in "Kings" and that they don't nerd him out).

And now you tell me there's going to be a Swearengen/Langrishe reunion? Now I'm really excited - except about the young male lead. Sounds like he's a bust. Maybe he'll get better if the show gets a chance to develope.

Gen said...

EOTW said: "And why should they, when America is watching CSI and Idol instead of dramatic storytelling as a viable entertainment any more?"

Amen.

I'm watching Kings right now, and while I'm not sure about whether I like it, I'm going to stick with it for the time being simply because I like the premise, and I like that it's something different. But I'm also maintaining a healthy skepticism about how long it will last, for the very reason you gave. I think I'd like its chances better if it were on cable; the cable networks seem to be a little more brave and innovative.

Anyhow, looking forward to tonight's "What's Alan Watching?" to see what everyone else thought.