I first saw a teaser for NBC’s Kings in December of 2008. I was suffering from severe LOST withdrawal amidst perusing the deepest depths of the internet for a new show or two to excite me in the time being. This teaser I saw could hardly even be classified as a teaser – it was roughly ten ominous seconds of an orange flag waving across the screen. On this flag was a butterfly. Later I’d discover that this was the flag of mighty Gilboa, the same flag that embodied the spiritual revelation that King Silas (Ian McShane) experiences in the beginning of the show. On this teaser there was no premiere date. In fact, there was no information of any kind. All I distinctly remember it saying was “Follow the butterfly.” I shrugged and continued my search for new shows, quickly forgetting what I had just witnessed. A few months later Kings would air its pilot and receive critical acclaim. But I had no idea it was on. Nor did anyone else.
Forgive the ridiculous analogy, but NBC treated this new unique show like an ugly step sister. It was doomed to fail from the start. Despite everything that made it such an interesting television experience, it never had any hope. It was marketed to the completely wrong audience (it wasn’t actually marketed much at all) at a horrific time (the pilot aired in March). But all of this is beside the point. NBC failed miserably, but in their failures another network has the opportunity to prosper off this incredible show. Here are five reasons why it deserves a fresh start with a company that will treat it with the proper care:
#1 – Production Values
Kings had some of the best production value of any show on air. The sets were beautiful, the wardrobes authentic and real, the music stupefying. There was an “epic” feel to basically every aspect of the show. Each episode felt like a separate motion picture. NBC must have spent a fortune on production design, so why they decided to not tell anyone about what they had created is beyond my understanding.
#2 – Themes
It’s rare in this generation of television that a network show is able to encompass so many different themes. Kings did so flawlessly. There was redemption. There was loyalty. Love. Sacrifice. But the most imperative one was faith. Not necessarily religious faith (though there is some of that) but faith in all things – in yourself, in each other, in faith itself. The only other shows I can think of that can do this as easily as Kings did are LOST and The Wire. We all know how those turned out.
#3 – Writing/Acting/Directing
I grouped these three together to save room for the last two reasons, but they are truly in categories of their own. Now, the writing in this show is not for every viewer. It’s truly dynamic. Every character is articulate. Every character a wordsmith in their own right. But the one who stands out from the pack is Ian McShane (King Silas). His performance as the great leader of Gilboa is both heartbreaking and uplifting. He is as disturbed as he is inspiring. I know Emmy nominations are rarely (if ever) given to shows that are canceled, but I sincerely hope they at least watched McShane’s performance and admired his talent. As far as the directing goes, not much explanation is needed. The shots are framed with calculation. The cuts are sudden and impactful. The transitions perfect. Most episodes end in an intensely foreboding moment that warrants a “K I N G S” appear in white font on a black background as the show closes (LOST fans will catch that reference).
#4 – Biblical Retelling
At the heart of the show is the famous story of David and Goliath, and David’s subsequent rise to power. Kings is a spectacular modern day interpretation of the biblical tale. It does not follow it exactly, but parallels are quite evident. What makes the show so special is that each viewer can take from it what they will. A more religious viewer will closely follow the story of David, this time being portrayed as an adviser to the king in a modern monarchy. Others will recognize the biblical parallels but focus more on the characters themselves, who are all distinct creations despite some representing biblical heroes.
#5 – Originality
How often does a show like this even get to air? It’s an unusual thing that must be cherished. I like to think of Kings as “LOST in a city.” That may seem odd, but the two shows share many, many things. Kings is not your 400th incarnation of a medical, law, police, or office show. There is no one name to classify it as. It’s just Kings, and it’s awesome.
So to all you network executives out there reading this (I know there must be a lot of you), you could have all of this and more. Take advantage of NBC’s costly mistake. Make them pay.
The question of which network would be a good fit to revive the series is a discussion for another day. Whether it be USA, AMC, Syfy, CW, HBO, or Showtime, I don’t particularly care. As long as I get to see my precious Kings again.