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June 19, 2008

NBC's 'Kings' script: bold, bizarre, fun

Meant to read a few pages of the pilot script for NBC's midseason series "Kings" and ended up finishing the 73-page draft in one sitting.

Very well written script by Michael Green (episodes of "Heroes," "Everwood") recasts the Biblical story of King David in modern times. Sort of. The “Kings” universe is essentially the United States, only ruled by a corporate-backed monarchy. This wildly fictional setting is the show’s greatest challenge -- to not let the strangeness of its parallel world distract viewers from its story and characters.

The casting of Ian McShane as the country's beloved ruler, King Silas, is perfect, and one wonders if some of his dialog was rewritten once he was brought on board.

"Speak in riddles, Reverend, you’re liable never to get your point across," Silas growls, and one can hear that regal "Deadwood" thug Al Swearengen.

The story (skip this graph to avoid general outline spoilers) tells of a noble young solider, David, who rescues the king’s son from captivity in a foreign land (slaying a high-tech Goliath is involved). Declared a hero, David is brought home to the king’s palace, falls for a goodhearted princess, alienates the king’s ambitious heir and is thrust into a web of rival agendas. Clearly, Green is keeping the story beats traditional here, which helps offset the oddness of the setting.

As always with any trade publication’s anything, our big question comes down to performance. Will "Kings" work? Will it pull ratings?

No clue.

Execution here is just too key. Mixing business suits and crowns in an alternative universe Lower Manhattan is not a venture for the faint of heart. The whole escapade could easily be rendered hokey, or with a lot of skill and a grown-up budget, become brilliant. To pull it off, NBC has tapped feature film director Francis Lawrence -- "I Am Legend," "Constantine" -- to helm the pilot.

Regardless of the result, hats off to NBC, which has been knocked by critics for greenlighting some all-too-familiar ideas, for giving this script a go (Kevin Reilly reportedly passed on it; Ben Silverman snatched it up).

After all, if you're gonna throw the dice on a story, you want to go big with PlayStation-loving battlefield soldiers mixed with Biblical allegory mixed with deadly corporate courtesan intrigue. 

Looking forward to seeing how "Kings" turns out.

[Previous: An early look at Fox's "Fringe"]


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