My Kingdom for a Rocket Launcher, or Decent Ratings

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Is anybody else out there watching Kings?

After an abortive stab at latching on to the television viewer’s consciousness in the spring, NBC declined to pick up the show and moved its remaining episodes into the graveyard of summer saturdays. The move bummed me out because I think the show is all kinds of awesome.

It’s a retelling of the Book of Kings from the Bible, set in a kind of modern day alternate reality. In the pilot episode a young farmboy-turned-soldier named David singlehandedly destroys a Goliath tank, rescuing the King’s son and setting off a chain of events that insinuates him with the royal family. I have a soft spot for anything that remixes, re-imagines, and updates a familiar story in a novel setting. MacBeth as a gangland crime saga or a dark comedy set in a fast food burger joint? I’m in. Emma, as experienced by high-fashion Beverly Hills teenager? Yes, please. I’ll even see a version of Othello that takes place on basketball team. I’m not sure why, but any kind of alternate take on a familiar story intrigues me. I once unsuccessfully tried to write a screenplay that was The Tempest set on a strange planet before losing interest the way I always do.

But even if Kings didn’t have its biblical pedigree, the show would still rock. Perennial badass and Deadwood alumni Ian McShane stars as the current King and serves up his usual dose of awesomeness. The dialogue is an odd mixture of modern-sounding plain English mixed with a grandiose and poetic style, tinged with just a hint of faux-King James Shakespearian flourish.

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The rest of the cast does an able job, even the slightly bland lead who plays David but this was the kind of dialogue McShane was born to deliver. The plot is grand and sweeping, with royal intrigues taking place alongside romantic subplots bolstered with the occasional action scene. The cinematography and set design are top-notch. Every shot is both beautiful and lived in.

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The alternate history of the world of Kings is doled out slowly. It is a modern world with skyscrapers, cell phones, tanks, and television. Most of the action takes place in Shiloh, the capital city of Gilboa and obvious stand in for New York. It is the power base for King Silas, from which he plans his war with a neighboring country called Gath. Silas is a King, and rules by divine right although he has an array of ministers and advisors to help him keep public opinion up. There is an element of the supernatural at work, as God apparently takes an active hand in affairs of state, usually by sending dreams and omens. Its understated and highlights the source material even as it adds a dimension of grand fate to the story. And I am no theologian, so many of the biblical allusions go over my head but the show still works even without them.

The characters are engaging, from the Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern like palace guards who comment on the action around them to the semi-creepy industrialist borther-in-law who makes life hard for King Silas every background character is well-drawn. The leads are pitch-perfect. Silas is conflicted but assured, while the potential upstart David is innocent, but not too innocent. He gets in a tabloid sex scandal at one point. The King’s son Jack is a closeted and power-hungry villain, while the Queen is both mysterious and capable. Dimensions, people.

But it all adds up to naught because I seem to be the only person in America who even knows this show exists. When the show first premiered people stayed away in droves and it seemed to exist just under the radar of the zeitgeist. That’s a shame. I haven’t really been upset at the loss of a show since the underappreciated Carnivale went off the air. For the last few years, the shows such as Heroes and Lost that I have liked have stuck around and I have been indifferent at best to shows like the Sarah Connor Chronicles and Journeyman that have been canceled. But Kings was different. While I am enjoying the remaining episodes, I do so with a certain melancholy, intensified by the reality show dross that encrusts our television screens while great scripted dramas go ignored. Plotlines will dangle for all time, and I will never get resolution to any of the stories. It’s no fate for a King.

22 Comments on "My Kingdom for a Rocket Launcher, or Decent Ratings"

  • There are so many people watching this show, search it and look at peoples comments. People have causes going to this show so it won’t be cancelled their are youtube videos and myspace pages. Our church talks about KiNGS!

    Its the most inspiring show I’ve seen in which relates to life and our hardships… in more ways its drama yes but its more than that!! I cannot believe NBC is Canceling the show… I know a bunch of people writing to Networks saying please pick up the show so far I think HBO might have a high interest in the show from a friend of mine who is a producer If thats the case, I know a bunch of people will subscribe to HBO to watch this show and how I know this is because it was stated by many people who are fans and who are willing to stick with a show unlike NBC sticking to there viewers and ripping them from a show that finally is meaningful…. Its Just a show but honestly If you have ever watched KINGS you would know its totally different from all Tv shows today.. it hits the spot Its like that Really good movie you see at the theaters and you don’t want it to end… Well this is that KINGS.

  • This is a great show! I’m getting tired of NBC starting shows and then 4 episodes into the season canceling them, the same thing happened with “The Black Donnelly’s”. The rating boxes for tv should go, their useless, boring and stupid show like CSI or Desperate House Wives and reality shows stay on, and all the good shows like Kings and the Donnelly’s get cut. Stupid networks. Anyways some should set up a petition or something and get someone to bring it back, the series is shaping out to be a good story!

  • @Ashley Wilcox: Youtube videos and myspace pages? This show is saved for sure! Actually, I have watched it, and I agree that it is a great show. But I think it’s on the way out and petitions and the like is just so much wishful thinking. I wonder how much the church/biblical angle has affected its ratings one way or the other.

    @Jason: I remember the Black Donnellys. I wasn’t a huge fan, but it felt like the show was just starting to hit its stride when it just disappeared. That was a show that belonged on HBO.

  • I really like this show too; although it kind of went through a slump after a great beginning. But the episode from this past weekend (I Tivo it so assumed it was still on Sundays, until I tweeted earlier asking if anybody else is watching and heard it had been cancelled) was by far the best one yet! (with Jack coming out, the pictures, so much packed into one episode)

    Such a shame to see it ending. 🙁

  • I agree. Not every episode had knocked it our of the park, but I really would have liked to see where the show was going.

  • Kings is great. Excellent acting, great writing, always interesting and a surprise, and great directing. I’ve watched every single episode and look forward to each new one as a highlight in my week.

    NBC really messed up their marketing strategy with Kings and it never really had a fair chance. I doubt many people even know what its about. They’ve either got some really incompetent marketing executives or they did it on purpose.

    I would love to see someone smarter than NBC pick it up clean house.

  • At the end of the two hour premiere I was left both intrigued and unsure of what was in store for this new show. A promising concept, it felt as though it could be easily ruined by an inability to fulfill its potential, or an overzealous attempt to do just that. However, a few episodes was all it took and I hooked. Although I was quick to criticize the shows shortcomings, every week I came back for more. And it has paid off; the most recent episode left me cursing the lack of viewership that has lead to its cancellation. It is obvious that the show didn’t fail because of it lack of competence (there are far worse things out there in TV land) and it is unfortunate to see it go…

  • Yeah. It’s a shame. I’d probably watch Ian McShane read the phonebook for an hour, but it really did seem like this show gave him some great material to work with. I also did not approve of every development, but overall I think the show got nipped in the bud.

  • Kings is royal!! I miss the and watched every episode, sometimes more than once.

  • I’m really saddened that this show ended so prematurely. I sent NBC an email basically saying that not a lot of shows catch my attn with all the non-appealing shows on tv now Kings was definitely appealing. I really wish they bring it back. I LOVE THIS SHOW

  • It’s sad when the shows worth watching are canceled to make room for junk. With any luck, maybe now that Comcast purchased NBC, smarter minds will consider bringing the show back and putting more then $1 into the advertising of it. I was one of the few people in my circles that even knew it existed when it was on…and how about putting it in a real time-slot to reach mass audiences instead of hiding it.

  • I too was (AM) a big fan of Kings! For the life of me, I cannot understand why shows like The Bachelor, or Big Brother XVI are aired for season after nauseating season, and great shows like Kings are axed. BRING KINGS BACK TO US!!

  • i thought that KINGS was such a creative show….a great concept…a combo of Shakespeare and the Bible. Maybe it was just too creative for the masses who can’t seem to get enough of the absurd and ridiculous reality shows. Maybe another network will pick up on this idea and make millions (like me) happy again.

  • SAVE KINGS by writing a letter/email to NBC or to some other network. OR SAVE KINGS BY

    http://savekings.org/
    http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/nbcsavekings
    and join “SAVE KINGS” on facebook, twitter ect.

    and NO its not premiering this March 15. Some are saying it is. Unless someone can show proof that it is.

  • even back here in Africa, i managed to get to watch abit KINGS. wow, its owesome. to hear that the guys at NBC removed the show is very unbelievable. anyhow show was worth every penny, perhaps it needed more time.

  • This show was ace.

    I keep checking every few months to see if this terrible mistake will be corrected and another season created.

  • When is Kings coming back on screen? It’s awesome show!

  • OMG i LOVE this show. this by far has to be the best show ever alot of my friends and I are extremly upset due to the fact that it is cancelled. Is there any way they can start production again if they again enough protest. If everyone just sat down and watched the show they would love it. It even has to due alot of the bush administration and you see alot of similarities in it. I really want them to start the show again because they left us in the biggest climax!!

  • •On 02.03.10 Hugo wrote these pithy words:
    SAVE KINGS by writing a letter/email to NBC or to some other network. OR SAVE KINGS BY

    http://savekings.org/
    http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/nbcsavekings
    and join “SAVE KINGS” on facebook, twitter ect.

    and NO its not premiering this March 15. Some are saying it is. Unless someone can show proof that it is.

  • As a very amateur biblical scholar I loved this show I thought it was awesome please bring it back.

  • The best thing about it was that it worked on both levels. Those looking for deeper theological allusions could have as much fun as those looking for an engaging drama.

  • Watched show on free NBC app downloaded. Show listed under classics
    Wished I would have caught the show in 2009. Great show! It’s hard to find any great shows anymore that don’t end up being cancelled. Wish Kings would come back.

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