Monday, March 16, 2009

KINGS, again

A post about KINGS I found on Defamer. Contrary to me earlier derogatory post, I guess I kind of agree with this. I at least admire the show for being ambitious, even if it is misguided, heavy-handed and in places very poorly executed.

"If you felt a rush of orange light, pretty boys and butterflies last night, it wasn't spring knocking at your door. It was NBC's Kings, which despite its turgid premiere is a show worth saving.

For all of its pomp, circumstance, and instances of silly dialogue, it was a strangely enjoyable and beguiling two hours of pseudo-religious Bible retelling.

It's the story of King David, who defeated Goliath in battle and rose to precarious prominence in a kingdom where the rightful heir to the throne was a mincing gay fop named Jonathan. Jon is Jack in this reimagining, David is, well, David, a tawny farm boy who rescues Jack in battle by standing up to one of the enemy's Goliath tanks. He's celebrated as a hero by the people, and used as a pro-military PR tool by the scheming, conflicted King Silas (the terrific, scenery-devouring Ian McShane). So David heads to the capital city, Shiloh (a thinly-disguised New York—the Time Warner Center features prominently), and wide-eyes his way through all the fanfare—falling for the lovely politically-minded princess, enraging the jealous prince, and eventually staging a dramatic, gorgeously staged truce between his kingdom, Gilboa, and their bitter enemies, Gath.

The production values were outta sight (though, I doubt NBC can sustain that), the acting was solid (especially McShane and Susanna Thompson as his icy bride), and the whole alternate-reality conceit was respectably ambitious for network television. It's sort of a more Earth-bound, less intelligent Battlestar Galactica, with all its talk of religion and scheming, souring political machinations. Plus the people are pretty, swathed as they are in lush cinematography and slo-mo sequences of warfare and crown-bestowing butterflies.

The all-important gay stuff is causing quite a stir. You see, Prince Jack is both a lazy nogoodnik and a homosexualist, as we discover when he is viciously outed to us by his shamed papa (see clip). And isn't it a bit regressive and cruel to paint the only gay character as a jealous, petty, sneaky, cowardly little whiner? Plus, David and Jonathan totally did it in the Bible (see items 10-14), so why can't the show be true to that?

So it's a shame that a paltry six million people tuned in last night. Let's hope that NBC gives it a few more chances. We need shows that are this original and ambitious—as Battlestar winds down, as Lost plans to leave us in a year's time—even if they're a bit overheated and laughably melodramatic at times (see the Butterfly Crowning, all the way up top). I suggest you give it a watch."

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