Monday, June 22, 2009

Kings, "The Sabbath Queen": The night the lights went out in Gilboa

I don't have the time or heart to keep writing about the burn-off run of "Kings," but feel free to offer your thoughts on "The Sabbath Queen."

20 comments:

James O'Hearn said...

You're right. It is disheartening to watch this show, a show that is both original, and meaningful.

Honestly, I think the failure of this show comes down to a failure of imagination. Not on the part of the writers, but on the part of the network and those responsible for marketing. It is the same lack of imagination that doomed Eli Stone as well.

Seriously. The US has the largest and most dedicated Christian population in the western world. In and Kings we have a story straight from the Bible. We have a show which unabashedly deals with the notion that God not only exists, but has a direct impact on the affairs of mankind.

Even Eli Stone touched on these themes, with Eli being molded into a prophet straight from the Old Testament.

These are shows that can do very well in a Red State context, and they needed marketers who not only embraced the religiosity of these shows, but celebrated it. Instead, the religious aspects of these shows were so downplayed and hidden as to be non-existent. Whether through simple stupidity, or purposeful obtuseness, these shows were sabotaged from the start.

And that is a real shame. Because Kings and Eli Stone were two fine shows.

Nick Holdstock said...

Agreed, it seems to have been abandoned from the start. This episode was particularly good- they handled the meeting with death very well. Also good to see some movement on the romance front- it could so easily have malingered on.

After a while you become thankful for any decent show, and accept its inevitable cancellation (Carnivale, Freaks and Geeks, Deadwood).

Toby O'B said...

For almost any other series, you'd know that camera phone would be trouble down the line. Now I'm not even sure we'll get any episode week to week. Just listening to McShane reading from the Harlow book was reason enough to watch the show this week!

Oaktown Girl said...

I don't have the time or heart to keep writing about the burn-off run of "Kings,",

...which makes me very sad. But thanks for putting up the thread anyway - I was really hoping you would.

David Hanlon said...

@James, what makes me sad for King's demise vis a vis religion is that it is not only refreshing to see a show deal with the existence of God, but in a way that is astonishingly unsentimental. The God of the show is stern, demanding, elliptical, scary, and inscrutable. This disturbing image of God is a legitimate part of the Judeo-Christian package but an unlikely version for a network show targeted to a mass audience to explore. One expects something more along the lines of folksy angels and more divine Rube Goldberg plots of things working out for the best. I found the religious aspect of this show bracing, original, and provocative and I doubt I'll see its like anytime soon.

Jordan said...

I loved the horror/suspense feel of this episode. It was different yet felt right at home in the "Kings" universe. It's a shame that we wont have the option of more episodes like this down the line. Instead NBC can spend their money on real art...like Heroes...or The Biggest Loser...

Nicole said...

I really liked this week's episode and was particularly impressed with the "angel" matching the ones seen in the Old Testament as opposed to the "Clarence" types that we normally have.

And while most of the blame for the poor ratings of the show should go to the network for poor marketing, some of it needs to go to the audience, who are programmed to watch reality garbage and not make an effort when a show is not a one episode self-contained procedural. Network audiences used to watch mini-series and give them high ratings. I am not sure of the last time that has happened, but it has been a while. (Of course the quality of most mini-series is not that great either, but that is another topic)

Raz Cunningham said...

this was a great episode.

every time i watch an episode now i get pissed off, knowing a show this good is going down the tube because the people who own it have no idea how to market it.

but hey, check out "NYC Prep", a completely original "reality" television show that will make you think and see things from.... i'm sorry, i can't finish that statement.

Anonymous said...

I don't know. This was actually the first episode I did not enjoy...... I thought that not much happened, I did not like the flashbacks or the way they shot the scenes in the blackout. Does anyone know how many episodes we have left?

Anonymous said...

Since it's been a bit since I watched the beginning of the season, had we had any previous indication that Silas and David had met before the pilot?

Linda said...

Here is an interview with "Kings" EP, Michael Green:

http://tinyurl.com/lctwgc

Oaktown Girl said...

@David - excellent points, completely agree.

@Linda - thanks for the link, will check it out.

Ken Hong said...

@James, I live in the bluest of blue states, California. Although the inspiration for Kings comes from the old testament, I don't watch it for that reason. Battlestar Galactica used a completely different mythology to explore religion in a very obvious way. These themes are universal and transcend red vs. blue or any religious affiliation.

I enjoy the shows unflinching look at the role faith and destiny play in people's lives in addition to the equally timeless stories of court intrigue, sacrifice and star-crossed lovers.

With such good material and great acting, the network certainly missed a chance at creating a decent following because the marketing department didn't know what to do with in.

I also love the Shakespearean dialog, and second @Toby's comment that "Just listening to McShane reading from the Harlow book was reason enough to watch..." Wow! I wish I could read stories to my kids like that.

The dialog gives the show an other world feel like the the use of "frak" and paper with cut corners in BSG, only with more lyricism and sophistication. Makes me want to dig up my old copies of Hamlet, MacBeth and King Lear from high school.

Very sad to see this show go. @Raz pisses me off too.

Oaktown Girl said...

Ken - love your comment, but for the record, CA is not the "bluest of blue" states. You can see this for yourself by "Googling" nationwide county election results (try Presidential years such as 2000, 2004, 2008).

Anonymous said...

I'm equally saddened by the coming demise and am buying each episode from iTunes as it's releeased, but I've got a question and a thought...

QUESTION: Does anyone think the Sabbath Queen / Death is a reference to the witch of Endor that Saul consulted in 1 Samuel 28? Saul broke his covenant with God a number of times in different ways, but consulting with a medium was one. No biggie - they're clearly riffing off the Old Testament, not strictly following it (e.g., Abner lives long after Saul's death). Just wondering if anyone else had that same idea.

THOUGHT: Several people on this blog & others have postulated that NBC screwed up by not playing up the religious angle and building an audience in red states. I'm more surprised that 13(?) episodes ever got greenlit and produced at all, especially by one of the big three/four networks. To me, Kings isn't a "red state" sort of show at all, in the typical way we talk about red & blue states. Touched by an Angel is more that fare (and I liked that show, too). Kings is more complex, darker, asks questions, messes with the story. I'm a Bible-reading, deeply committed Jesus freak, and the show fascinates me. But that same complexity wouldn't fly with a lot of my believer friends. Of the people I know who know the Bible well enough to recognize all the references, I'm guessing many wouldn't like it. And I'm talking about people I know and love.

I'm into the series because it's wonderfully written and acted. The nearly Shakespearean dialogue. And also because it's got me thinking about the complexity of David in a richer, deeper way. He was a deeply flawed man who committed grievous wrongs, but whose heart was always after God. That this series stars a David isn't so sure about God - that was never going to be an easy "red state" sell.

Kalman said...

This may have been the best episode yet (though some were so long ago, I may be forgetting . . .)

Superior television. Shame to lose it.

dez said...

I don't have the time or heart to keep writing about the burn-off run of "Kings,",

...which makes me very sad. But thanks for putting up the thread anyway - I was really hoping you would.


I'm also very sad not to get your thoughts on this ep, Alan. I was really looking forward to reading what you had to say :(

cgeye said...

Folks are conflating Christianity with Old Testament/Judaism, and that confusion's probably what NBC counted on. But as soon as the samplers didn't see anything connected to Jesus Christ explicitly presented, they moved on.

Good.

Because what I saw last Saturday would not pass muster on a Christian-oriented program. Also, good.

For you had Silas making a deal with Death -- not just the Angel of Death, who would be ruled by God, but Death who loves suffering and explicitly operates outside God's control, something rejected absolutely through the miracles of Jesus. This was Death (as trite, brunette, snotty English girl, yawn) as malevolence, a force that Silas was arrogant enough to deal with, then reneg on his deal. Yep, every inch a king -- and note that Death has its own assassin force (or, at least, its own worshipers).

I'm not disheartened, only mad: This is the ground KINGS should have covered from episode 1. A full supernatural presence in the lives of men, with a royal family standing in the gap between man and God, with all the moral conflict that implies.

I'm sorry that the Princess' vow was as meaningless as being a nun without habit (c'mon, how much more powerful would it have been for her to have entered a religious order, and still attend state functions?), but at least they finally got off that inertia of never, ever moving forward with the kids' subplots.

And Jack was a closeted weasel. Again. And screwing his partner in the dark probably made him a worse person, and in time for Gay Pride Week, too. Way to go, Marketing Dept.

I'm just pissed because of the way NBC's handled this show so far, that they probably won't get the creatives together again to even do commentaries for the DVD set. There's a lot of talent I want to keep my eyes on (the kids, notwithstanding), and it would be nice to know what they thought by making something so rich verbally and visually. Oh, well.

Anonymous said...

im heart broken this show is leaving the air.. I was suprised and excited when I watched the first episode and I realized the biblical tone and couldnt wate to have my friends and family watch..and they did.. the doiolog was pure artistry... I say BOOO to the network for letting it die... i guess i have to look forward to more channle surfing as i wade through the mind numbing reality shows. blah!

Jordan said...

Saturday's episode "Chapter 1"(which has no page yet, so I'll utilize this one) was another good'un. The conversation between Katrina and Rose was amazing, and the penultimate scene of the episode(between Silas and David) showed David finally growing some stones.