Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Kings Alternate History Debuts

I caught up with the two-hour debut of Kings on NBC last night (aired on March 15). From my science fictional perspective, the series feels like an alternate history, which is always welcome, especially on television. The kingdom exists in the present - there are cellphones and talk of the Internet - in a country called Gilboa and a city called Shiloh, which looks like a mix of New York and Washington. The history is ours to some unspecified point - Liszt, the 19th century pianist and composer, is explicitly mentioned, as David Shepherd, one of the lead characters, plays his music. All of this detail is enjoyable indeed.

So is the story, which thus far is a retelling of King Saul and his successor David. This puts Kings in the fine tradition of Richard III (real King, Shakespearean historical character, appearing as a circa World War II character in the riveting 1995 movie). King Silas rules like a Biblical king - no parliament - in a state that seems like Israel, in terms of size and proximity to its enemies (Gath, in this case). David is a hero who stands up, literally to a Goliath tank, and saves the King's son. He's brought to the capital, lionized, and is falling in love with the King's daughter Michelle.

Fine acting all around - especially Ian McShane (of Deadwood fame) as King Silas, and Christopher Egan as David, who looks like a young Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, and a touch of Heath Ledger. Allison Miller as Michelle was also appealing.

So we've got some attractive, compelling ingredients and possibilities in this blend of political intrigue, soap opera, alternate history, not to mention a third major character on television with the last name of Shepherd, joining Dr. Jack on Lost and Derek on Grey's, though David comes by it naturally given that the Biblical David was a shepherd. I'm looking forward to more.












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