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August 29, 2015

Kings stars take questions from the blogosphere - VIDEO

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 5th 2009 2:06PM
A few weeks ago, I was invited, along with a number of writers from websites and blogs (including our friends at AOL TV), to screen the two-hour premiere of NBC's new Blblical-themed fantasy soap, Kings. The show, which premieres on Sunday, March 15, has gotten a lot of hype since the Peacock network introduced it last summer. That hype was mostly due to its star, Ian McShane. Everyone knew that the former Deadwood star would bring a stern intensity to the show; heck, his orneriness during the summer TCA session for the show alone made people look forward to his performance.

Alas, the bloggers wouldn't get a chance to question McShane during the post-screening Q&A; they did get a chance to speak to creator Michael Green and co-stars Susanna Thompson, Allison Miller, Dylan Baker, and Eamonn Walker. Some choice quotes and video of the session are after the jump.

Kings is a show that's sort of hard to define. Much of it parallels the story of David and Goliath; this time David (Christopher Egan) is a soldier in a bitter war between fictional neighbor countries for Gilboa and Gath, who defeats a Gathian super tank named Goliath and saves a very important soldier. Gilboa's king, Silas (McShane), brings David into his circle of influence, which includes his strident daughter Michelle (Miller) and rebellious son Jack (Sebastian Stan). Silas has built Gilboa and its brand-new capital, Shiloh, from nothing, but not without personal costs.

The story is a Biblical parable, a soap with serpentine storylines, and a show with lots of action. In a network environment where serial shows are falling out of favor, how does Green expect people to stay with the show, or jump into it, in order to sustain it for multiple seasons? "We approached this season with a second season in mind," he said to the gathered blogging masses. He felt that, despite the ongoing storylines, recaps and weekly standalone stories will hook people in and allow them to catch up.

After watching the first three episodes (the screener came soon after this event), it seems like that will be wishful thinking on Green's part. The story only gets more complicated, and no amount of "Previously on Kings" recaps are going to fully catch people up. Some knowledge of the Biblical story of David will help, but they stray from that enough (a secret about Jack's life, for instance, is going to affect his relationship to his dad and the throne).

Some other highlights:
  • Baker plays William Cross, brother of Queen Rose (Thompson) and the head of a corporation that helped Silas build his empire. That also means he thinks he has the king wrapped around his finger. If that sounds something like a former vice president, then Baker thinks he's doing something right. "I'm trying to bring a little Dick back into our lives," he said to the biggest laugh of the afternoon (by the way, I have a Q&A with Baker, which will be posted next week).
  • Walker plays Rev. Ephram Samuels, Silas' spiritual guide who seems to have a direct line to God. "This is about God, as far as I'm concerned," he said. God is a real part of the show because the story is from the Old Testament.
  • Thompson says Queen Rose is "a survivor." She also likes the soapy elements of the show. "It's a wild Mr. Toad ride," she called it.
  • The New York locations seem to be pretty obvious -- for instance, the King and his court meet at the Live at Lincoln Center theater in the Time Warner Center. Green said that the city locales have been "delicately changed to feel like something else." Green figured someone like me, who lives in the New York area, would recognize the locales more than those who didn't. I begged to differ, and you'll hear me say to him, "But Ellen did her talk show from there!" before they moved on to the next question.
  • There was a set visit to Hempstead House on Long Island, where the interiors of the palace were filmed. Judging by what I saw in the preview, it would have been gorgeous to see. Unfortunately, I had other work to do and there was a delay in getting out there, so I went home. If I get pics, I'll post them.

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"Gilboa" vs. "Gath"? I know this is biblical, but it sounds like an adventure in a Final Fantasy game to me. Whatever the case, Ian McShane is the reason I will give this show a shot. I'm rooting for it.

March 05 2009 at 4:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to svendsgaard's comment

Since Final Fantasy raids mythology and religion wholesale for names, your comment is remarkably apt.

Everything about this series seems to scream "ratings failure" and raises my anticipation at the same time.

March 08 2009 at 8:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This series, with excellent actors and an interesting storyline, does feel a bit like a 'game' format, but I think it's going to open into more than that. I say bravo for a show with imagination and potential. Yes, let's give it a chance. (ps Who plays the menacing military officer at McShane's side? He looks like Jay Silverheels.)

March 20 2009 at 7:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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