But now that "the Decider" has departed and been replaced by a president with Bartlet-like tendencies, what will NBC give us to fill its side of the bargain? Why, Kings, a show set in a modern America-like nation ruled by an autocratic despot who starts and ends wars on a whim -- even the whim of a large military corporation backing him. Undesirable subjects may be killed quietly, the press is censored, and public morale cynically manipulated. And as if that weren't enough, the whole thing is based on the mythology of Israel's first king.
When I discovered that the show was an attempt to make a modern adaptation of the story of Saul and David from the First Book of Samuel, I was even more intrigued and was determined to give it a chance. I did this even though I assumed that, being a network television series, it would downplay if not actually eliminate all references to God, prophecy and anointed kingship, and in this assumption I have been completely wrong from the first minutes of the pilot. The first three episodes have treated the original Biblical story respectfully, if not slavishly, and they have given the political theology of I Samuel and the role of “Rev. Samuels” as central a place in the story as one might expect to see. Obviously, the show is being marketed as a political drama/soap opera a la Rome with the religious component obscured almost entirely in the advertising (apparently because, as they say in the first scene, “it’s not popular to speak of God”), and additional plot twists added on occasion. Like Rome, it has impressive sets and casting, and a similarly large budget, and it has so far brought in high quality directorial talent. Naturally, pitted against The Simpsons and even more mindless reality TV fare, Kings has been doing very badly in the ratings. NBC is infamous for its mishandling of quality programming, so there is every reason to fear that the network will do its best to undermine the show until it is cancelled. However, this is a show that is intelligent, reasonably attentive to the Biblical narrative and serious when speaking of matters of faith and sacrifice, and if there is any show on network or cable that can claim anything similar I have yet to hear of it. It’s worth a look.Well there you have it, approved by one of the smartest social conservatives I know of. You can watch on Hulu.