NBC’s Kings Series Premiere: Conclusion: Ian McShane Rules March 16, 2009Posted by Amy Yen in TV.
Tags: Amy Yen, Kings, Kings David, Kings Goliath, Kings pilot, Kings premiere, NBC Kings, StrawGrasping
I thought it was kind of an odd decision at first, but I guess it makes sense that NBC gave Kings a two-hour premiere…it feels almost like an apology for stranding its start date into mid-March & then sticking it in a tough Sunday night timeslot. Kings feels more like a miniseries and less like a TV show, and I’d honestly be surprised if it outlasts the time limit of one. It feels way too complex to be a hit, & it also has to hurdle the two obstacles its network put in its way. Which is too bad, because I very much enjoyed the pilot.
Visually intriguing & chock full of scenery-chewing rhetoric, the thing I liked most about this pilot was its ability to not only introduce this sizable cast of characters, give them backstories & personalities & establish how they matter to each other, but also demonstrate in each a dichotomy & depth that you rarely get in pilots, because they’re too busy trying to introduce the entire premise of the show in way too short of a time. Of course, they did have two hours & the advantage of having a built-in premise in the biblical story of David. Still, I found it impressive that every main character, save maybe Michelle, felt multidimensional by the end of the episode.
I particularly liked that the King—with all his actions going against him—was actually a rather sympathetic character. Here he is, dismissing his own son for being gay, cheating on his wife & having a child with another woman, marrying his wife just to get to her brother’s money, allowing his brother-in-law to essentially blackmail him into putting his country at war for another year so his company can get its money’s worth, totally dissing that guy from Oz who was playing the reverend, ordering someone’s death at a dinner party, etc, & yet, I didn’t hate him. (Or maybe it’s just the awesomeness that is Ian McShane.) And despite the late scene in the car with the King’s brother-in-law, plotting his father’s destruction, Jack Benjamin isn’t, at his core, a bad person or even really a bad prince. (His & David’s relationship will clearly be one of the show’s most interesting dynamics, since Jack clearly resents how Silas puts David into power, but at the same time, he doesn’t seem to ignore the fact that David has done everything he can to defend Jack.) Even David himself is clearly not a flawless hero.
This episode also works hard to set up this world, this alternate reality where things seems much more familiar than they probably should (and Kings revels in flaunting the parallels). It’s escapism at its best & it turns out maybe Sunday night is the perfect place for it after all, one last stop in fantasyland before Monday arrives & it’s back to reality.
Kings is not perfect—while it happens to fit the royal feel of the show, it really must cool it on the soapy melodrama—but Ian McShane’s at his scene-commanding best & I found the whole thing surprisingly entertaining. The Mentalist will be this year’s most successful new show & Fringe will be the best quality one, but judging by this episode, Kings is one worth another look.
Update: If you missed the premiere, check it out HERE.
Update, Monday, 10am: Wow. I thought the ratings would be bad, but not this bad. With the positive critical buzz & reasonable promotion by NBC leading up to the premiere, I definitely thought it could pull better than 6 million total viewers with just a 1.6 in the 18-49 demo. NBC just can’t catch a break this year.