The Old Testament drama “Of Kings and Prophets,” which executive producer Chris Brancato has dubbed “a nondragon version of ‘Game of Thrones,”‘ premieres at 10 p.m. Tuesday on ABC.
“Of Kings and Prophets” is based on book 1 of the Old Testament’s Book of Samuel about King Saul’s (Ray Winstone) struggles to unify the Twelve Tribes of Israel, the resentful prophet Samuel (Mohammad Bakri) and the young shepherd David (Olly Rix).
While Brancato has said “we’re trying to tell the story that you will read in 1 Samuel” he also said that “we’ve sought to make the show modern, have a modern pulse, to feel like you’re embedded in this actual world of the forming of this fledging nation…. and to give it scope and scale.”
In Tuesday’s premiere, King Saul struggles to defend his kingdom from one of Israel’s ancient enemies, the Philistines, by marrying off his daughter, Merav (Jeanine Mason, the summer 2009 champion of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance”), to Mattiyahu of Judah (Matt Whelan).
In the midst of the wedding preparations, the prophet Samuel beckons Saul and relays a message from God that he must destroy the Amalekites, another of Israel’s ancient enemies. Saul dares to challenge the prophet Samuel, setting in motion a series of calamities that will threaten his rule of the kingdom.
Meanwhile, David is determined to settle his family’s debts. He travels to the king’s palace in Gibeah with his cousin Yoab (David Walmsley) and makes the bold proposition that he can kill the lion hunting his flock. Queen Ahinoam (Simone Kessel) scoffs at David, but daughter Michal (Maisie Richardson- Sellers) thinks he just might accomplish this dangerous feat.
“What you watch in the pilot is (David’s) journey from the outskirts of what is a nation that is just forming into the royal courtroom, where he ends up finding a royal family and essentially a surrogate father in Saul, whom, over the course of the season … he ends up in fierce competition to attain a crown that he never asked for, that was anointed to him by God through the prophet Samuel,” Brancato said during ABC’s portion of the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour in January.
“Whether Samuel is actually speaking for God or not is a subject of debate amongst these characters. And I think the show in general is an examination of how we utilize faith in our lives, what higher powers we feel responsible to.
“David is one of the most interesting characters in world history because he sins, and then he repents. He is almost a symbol of the ambiguity and complexity of human nature, and so I think our show explores that.”
The Parents Television Council, which describes itself as a nonpartisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment, announced last week that is has alerted the nation’s top 200 advertisers about the violent and sexual content “Of Kings and Prophets.”
“We are urging each potential sponsor of ‘Of Kings and Prophets’ to carefully weigh whether an ‘extraordinarily violent’ and ‘sexual’ broadcast TV show that has been compared to an explicit premium cable TV show is truly a good fit for their corporate image,” Parents Television Council President Tim Winter said.
“TV shows that are filled with sex and violence will only remain on the public airwaves as long as advertisers are willing to sponsor them. We urge companies to use caution when considering whether or not to advertise on this show, especially if the show’s content is comparable to HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones.”
ABC declined to comment.
Brancato said during the press tour session that 1 Samuel was “extraordinarily violent” and sexual, but said his series “does not truck in gratuitous sex nor gratuitous violence.”
Another executive producer, Jason T. Reed said, “We’ve actually scaled back some of the violence as it’s depicted in 1 and 2 Samuel… .for broadcast standards and practices reasons.”
“We’re still trying to set the context in the appropriate way so that an audience can feel the same pressures, the same motivations that these characters struggled with on a daily basis,” Reed said.
—City News Service
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