Kings (U.S. TV series)

Kings (U.S. TV series)

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Kings is an American television drama series
Dramatic programming
Dramatic programming in the UK, or television drama and television drama series in the US, is television program content that is scripted and fictional along the lines of √a traditional drama. This excludes, for example, sports television, television news, reality show and game shows, stand-up...

 which aired on NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

. The series' narrative is loosely based on the Biblical story of King David, but set in a kingdom that culturally and technologically resembles the present-day United States.

Advance showings received mostly positive critical reviews. The Sunday March 15, 2009, premiere placed 4th in network television ratings for that evening. After four episodes aired, NBC moved it to a Saturday slot, but only showed one more episode before pulling the series until summer. The remaining seven episodes were aired on Saturdays in June and July; however, Kings was canceled after failing to find a sufficient audience.

Plot


Kings is set in the fictional Kingdom
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 of Gilboa, a modern absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

. Gilboa is ruled by King Silas Benjamin, who originally formed the united kingdom two decades before from the three warring countries of Gilboa, Carmel
Mount Carmel
Mount Carmel ; , Kármēlos; , Kurmul or جبل مار إلياس Jabal Mar Elyas 'Mount Saint Elias') is a coastal mountain range in northern Israel stretching from the Mediterranean Sea towards the southeast. Archaeologists have discovered ancient wine and oil presses at various locations on Mt. Carmel...

, and Selah
Selah
Selah is a word used frequently in the Hebrew Bible, often in the Psalms, and is a difficult concept to translate. It is probably either a liturgico-musical mark or an instruction on the reading of the text, something like "stop and listen"...

. He believes that he has been divinely anointed
Divine Right of Kings
The divine right of kings or divine-right theory of kingship is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God...

 king, and often cites the day when a swarm of Monarch butterflies once landed on his head in the form of "a living crown" which called upon him to form the Monarchy and Kingdom.

All is not well for Silas: his policies and actions are being manipulated by his queen's brother, William Cross, who holds substantial control over the royal treasury and also appears to be the major stakeholder as CEO/Chairman of Crossgen (which appears to have a large stake in the economy of Gilboa); his heir, Prince Jack, is a closeted homosexual, which could undermine the royal family; and Silas himself has a secret mistress, as well as a young son with her.

Events of the series are set into motion when young David Shepherd, a Gilboan soldier in a war against the Republic of Gath, single-handedly rescues a captive soldier from behind enemy lines and destroys a "Goliath-Class" tank with a hurled anti-tank mine. The captive soldier is Prince Jack, and David not only becomes an instant star in the national media, but also earns the gratitude of King Silas, much to the chagrin of the prince.

King Silas brings David into the capital city of Shiloh where he is promoted to Captain and then maneuvered into the plum position of military liaison to the media. He soon finds himself in the midst of royal court politics with little initial awareness of the forces acting behind them. He also develops feelings for Silas' daughter, Princess Michelle, which she privately reciprocates.

Queen Rose runs the royal household with an iron fist and does her best to keep the warring factions of the family from destroying the monarchy. She is the one person to whom the King will listen, while he will not hesitate to turn his back on or even order the death penalty for his own children. Queen Rose, in many ways, rules the Kingdom from behind the scenes.

In the pilot episode, David, much like Silas years before, is set upon by a living "crown" of Monarch butterflies, as Silas witnesses the event from a discreet distance. Silas has already been told that God no longer supports his reign, and this then implies that David is the divine choice as his successor. This troubles the King so much that he initially plots to have David killed. David, however, soon comes to interpret the appearance of the Monarch butterflies as an omen that he is meant to serve King Silas, and the sovereign accepts this, progressively drawing David deeper into his court. Through the series, David and Michelle's romance blossoms, first secretly and then publicly when Michelle informs King Silas. Silas falsely accuses David of being a traitor because David lied to Silas about his relationship with Michelle. During David's imprisonment, Michelle learns that she is pregnant with David's child.

The intervening episodes continue to use symbolism and images to add depth to the basic story line, such as casting shadows in the shape of a cross on David and other characters, historical and biblical stories being intertwined in the plot (David defeating the seemingly invincible Goliath tank), return of a prodigal son (or nephew, in this case), and King Silas making promises and pleas directly to God that are answered, but not always as he had hoped. There also are references to more modern themes, such as the Cold War, encroachment of technology in our lives, Halliburton
Halliburton
Halliburton is the world's second largest oilfield services corporation with operations in more than 70 countries. It has hundreds of subsidiaries, affiliates, branches, brands and divisions worldwide and employs over 50,000 people....

-style companies that perpetuate wars to make money, and national policy being influenced by the holding of the nation's treasury hostage.

In the two-part season finale, William Cross orchestrates a coup with the intention of placing Jack on the throne as his puppet. Silas is shot twice, but survives. Although Silas has framed David for treason, David helps return him to power. Reverend Samuels is killed under William's orders, but appears in posthumous visions to David, the Princess, and Silas (none of whom is aware that Samuels is dead), confirming to them that God has chosen David to be the next king. David flees to Gath on Samuels' advice, and Michelle is sent into exile to bear his child in secret. Silas declares that he is now God's enemy as dark storm clouds loom above his troubled kingdom.

Main cast

  • Christopher Egan as Captain David Shepherd – a counterpart to the biblical David
    David
    David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

    . David is an idealistic young soldier who finds himself in the unfamiliar world of court intrigue.
  • Ian McShane
    Ian McShane
    Ian David McShane is an English actor, director, producer, voice artist, and comedian.Despite appearing in numerous films, McShane is best known for his television roles, particularly the BBC's Lovejoy and HBO's Western drama Deadwood...

     as Silas Benjamin, King of Gilboa – a counterpart to the biblical King Saul
    Saul
    -People:Saul is a given/first name in English, the Anglicized form of the Hebrew name Shaul from the Hebrew Bible:* Saul , including people with this given namein the Bible:* Saul , a king of Edom...

    . Silas has united the kingdom of Gilboa and built its capital city, Shiloh, but now fears that God has forsaken him.
  • Susanna Thompson
    Susanna Thompson
    Susanna Thompson is an American television and film actress. She is skilled in Aikido and stage combat. She is best known for her role as Karen Sammler on Once and Again.-Career:...

     as Rose Cross Benjamin – queen of Gilboa, a counterpart to the biblical Ahinoam
    Ahinoam
    Ahinoam is a Hebrew name literally meaning brother of pleasantness, thus meaning pleasant.There are two references in the Bible to people who bear that name:...

    , is the wife of King Silas. The queen claims to abhor politics, but ruthlessly manipulates court life from behind the scenes.
  • Allison Miller
    Allison Miller
    Allison Miller is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Michelle Benjamin on the NBC series Kings.-Early life:...

     as Michelle Benjamin – princess of Gilboa, a counterpart to the biblical Michal
    Michal
    Michal was a daughter of Saul, king of Israel, who loved and became the wife of David, who later became king of Judah, and later still of the united Kingdom of Israel....

    . Silas's daughter and crusader for improving the kingdom's health care system, Michelle finds herself drawn towards David.
  • Sebastian Stan
    Sebastian Stan
    Sebastian Stan is a Romanian-born American actor. He is best known for playing Prince Jack Benjamin on the television drama Kings and Carter Baizen on Gossip Girl.-Early life:...

     as Jonathan "Jack" Benjamin – crown prince of Gilboa, a counterpart to the biblical Jonathan
    David and Jonathan
    David and Jonathan were heroic figures of the Kingdom of Israel, whose covenant was recorded favourably in the books of Samuel. Jonathan was the son of Saul, king of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, and David was the son of Jesse of Bethlehem and Jonathan's presumed rival for the crown...

    . Jack is Silas's ambitious and frustrated son, who initially sees David as a rival at court. Jack plays the role of a dissolute, womanizing rake in front of the kingdom's press, but is secretly gay. The king knows that Jack is gay, and challenges him to restrain his desires if he wishes to become king.
  • Eamonn Walker
    Eamonn Walker
    Eamonn Walker is an English film, television and theatre actor. In the United States, he is known for playing Kareem Said in the HBO television series Oz, for which he won a CableACE Award, and elsewere as Winston, the gay, black thorn in Alf Garnett's side in In Sickness and in Health and John...

     as The Reverend Ephram Samuels – a counterpart to the biblical prophet Samuel. Reverend Samuels was instrumental in Silas's rise to power, but his relationship with the king has since become strained.
  • Dylan Baker
    Dylan Baker
    Dylan Baker is an American actor, known for playing supporting roles in both major studio and independent films.-Early life:...

     as William Cross – industrialist and brother to Queen Rose. William finances Silas' Royal Treasury, but withdraws his funds when, contrary to his wishes, Silas seeks an end to the war with neighboring Gath.
  • Wes Studi
    Wes Studi
    Wesley "Wes" Studi is a Cherokee actor, who has earned notability for his portrayal of Native Americans in film. He has appeared in well-received Academy Award-winning films, such as Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves, Michael Mann's The Last of the Mohicans, the award-winning Geronimo: An...

     as General Linus Abner – a counterpart to the biblical Abner
    Abner
    In the Book of Samuel, Abner , is first cousin to Saul and commander-in-chief of his army...

    , is the head of Gilboa's military. Though initially loyal to the king, Abner eventually betrays Silas as he believes the king has become too 'soft'; in the episode "Brotherhood" Abner is killed by Silas for his betrayal.
  • Sarita Choudhury
    Sarita Choudhury
    Sarita Catherine Louise Choudhury is an English actress.-Biography:Choudhury was born in Blackheath, London, England, of half Bengali-Indian and half English descent. Her parents, Prabhas Chandra Choudhury, a scientist, and Julia Patricia Spring, married in 1964 in Lucea, Jamaica...

     as Helen Pardis – a counterpart to the biblical Rizpah
    Rizpah
    Rizpah was the daughter of Aiah, and one of Saul's concubines. She was the mother of Armoni and Mephibosheth .After the death of Saul, Abner took her as wife, resulting in a quarrel between him and Saul's son and successor, Ishbosheth. The quarrel led to Abner's going over to the side of David, ...

    , King Silas's mistress and mother of his illegitimate son. Silas attempts to offer up his relationship with Helen as a sacrifice to God in order to save his son's life, but eventually returns to her.

Recurring cast

  • Macaulay Culkin
    Macaulay Culkin
    Macaulay Carson Culkin is an American actor. He became widely known for his portrayal of Kevin McCallister in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. He is also known for his roles in Richie Rich, Uncle Buck, My Girl, The Pagemaster, and Party Monster...

     as Andrew Cross – the son of William Cross and nephew to the king, who was exile
    Exile
    Exile means to be away from one's home , while either being explicitly refused permission to return and/or being threatened with imprisonment or death upon return...

    d from Gilboa for unspecified reasons, but has returned as part of a deal between Silas and William
  • Becky Ann Baker
    Becky Ann Baker
    Becky Ann Baker is an American actress who is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Jean Weir on NBC's Emmy Award-winning Freaks and Geeks.-Early life:Baker was born Becky Gelke in Fort Knox, Kentucky...

     as Jessie Shepherd – David's mother
  • Tom Guiry
    Tom Guiry
    Thomas John Guiry is an American actor.Guiry was born in Trenton, New Jersey and attended St. Gregory the Great school in Hamilton Township, Mercer County, New Jersey from kindergarten through eighth grade, and then high school at Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville, New Jersey...

     as Ethan Shepherd – David's brother
  • Mark Margolis
    Mark Margolis
    Mark Margolis is an American actor who has been making films since 1976.Margolis went to Temple University briefly before moving to New York City, where he studied drama with Stella Adler and at the Actors Studio...

     as Damien Shaw – premier of Gath
  • Miguel Ferrer
    Miguel Ferrer
    Miguel José Ferrer is an American actor and voice actor who is often cast as a villain. His notable roles include Bob Morton, a supporting character in RoboCop , the short tempered FBI agent Albert Rosenfield in Twin Peaks, and Dr...

     as General Mallick – head of Gath military
  • Michael Crane as Chancellor Marcus Hanson
  • Brian Cox as Vesper Abaddon
    Abaddon
    Abaddon in the Revelation of St. John, is the king of tormenting locusts and the angel of the bottomless pit. The exact nature of Abaddon is debated, but the Hebrew word is related to the triliteral root אבד , which in verb form means "to perish."...

     – the former King of Carmel
  • John Greenway chief economist at Shiloh National Bank
  • Reed Birney as Press Minister Forsythe
  • Marlyne Afflack
    Marlyne Afflack
    Marlyne Nayokah Afflack is an American actress best known her role as Nerese Campbell on The Wire. She also played an attorney in the FX drama Damages and Thomasina, the efficient palace secretary and aide-de-camp, on the NBC series Kings...

     as Thomasina – the efficient palace secretary and aide-de-camp
  • Steve Rosen as Perry Straussler – court historian and biographer of King Silas
  • Michael Arden
    Michael Arden
    Michael Jerrod Moore , also known as Michael Arden, is an American stage actor, singer, and composer. He was born in Midland, Texas.-Early and personal life:...

     as Joseph Lasile – Jack's clandestine boyfriend
  • Leslie Bibb
    Leslie Bibb
    Leslie Louise Bibb is an American actress and former fashion model. She transitioned into film and television in late 1990s. She appeared in television shows such as Home Improvement , before she appeared in her first film, the comedy Private Parts , which was followed by her first show The Big Easy...

     as Katrina Ghent – socialite and new Minister of Information
  • Joel Garland as Klotz – member of the Royal Guard
  • Jason Antoon as Boyden – member of the Royal Guard
  • Kadin George as Seth – King Silas' illegitimate son
  • Michael Stahl-David
    Michael Stahl-David
    Michael Stahl-David is an American actor, perhaps best known for his television role as Sean Donnelly on The Black Donnellys and his lead role in the J. J. Abrams-produced film Cloverfield.-Early life:...

     as Paul Lash – Michelle's partner in her health care plan
  • Kathleen Mealia as Lucinda Wolfsen – one of Jack's girlfriends from a famous upper class family.
  • Josh Berresford
    Josh Berresford
    Joshua Lee "Josh" Berresford is an American actor, model, and spokesperson. Primarily known early in his career for his work on stage and in independent films, Berresford first gained national recognition for his role of Cory, on the original series, .-Early Life:Josh was born and raised in...

     as King's Own – one of the King's special police guards.

Episode list


>
# Title Directed by Written by Original air date

Development


On November 5, 2007, NBC ordered the two-hour pilot of Kings: the last pilot NBC ordered before the 2007 Writer's Strike. Michael Green
Michael Green (writer)
Michael Green is an American television and film writer, as well as a comic book scripter. He grew up in Mamaroneck, New York.-Comic Books:Green has been a contributor for Superman/Batman. He also co-wrote the Green Lantern movie with Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim, which was released in 2011...

 (Heroes
Heroes (TV series)
Heroes is an American science fiction television drama series created by Tim Kring that appeared on NBC for four seasons from September 25, 2006 through February 8, 2010. The series tells the stories of ordinary people who discover superhuman abilities, and how these abilities take effect in the...

, Everwood
Everwood
Everwood is an American drama television series that initially aired in the United States on The WB. The series is set in the fictional small town of Everwood, Colorado, and was filmed in Ogden, South Salt Lake, and Draper, Utah, except the series pilot which was filmed in Canmore, Alberta,...

) penned the script and Francis Lawrence
Francis Lawrence
Francis Lawrence is an American music video and film director.-Life and career:Lawrence was born in Vienna, Austria. His father is a physicist who taught at California State University, Northridge and his mother is V.P. Technology at a PR agency. He moved to Los Angeles at the age of three...

 (I Am Legend
I Am Legend (film)
I Am Legend is a 2007 post-apocalyptic science fiction film directed by Francis Lawrence and starring Will Smith. It is the third feature film adaptation of Richard Matheson's 1954 novel of the same name, following 1964's The Last Man on Earth and 1971's The Omega Man. Smith plays virologist Robert...

) was set to direct. When Green pitched the series to NBC, he told them: NBC officially ordered the show to series on May 19, 2008. Green planned out the entire first season, which was to consist of thirteen episodes.

'Kings' was also the beneficiary of an unusual advertising arrangement; insurance company Liberty Mutual
Liberty Mutual
Liberty Mutual Group, more commonly known by the name of its primary line of business Liberty Mutual, is a diversified global insurer and the third largest property and casualty insurer in the United States based on 2010 net written premium. It is the 82nd company on the Fortune 500 list for 2011...

 sponsored Kings with US$5 million. Liberty Mutual had previously approached ABC and CBS about such an arrangement. A report in Forbes
Forbes
Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...

magazine said that Liberty Mutual was involved in the show's creative development — including "the right to go over the show's scripts", and even "clean[ing] up dialogue". However, show creator Michael Green denied that Liberty Mutual controlled or censored the show in any way.

The series was filmed partially in New York City at the New York Public Library
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is the largest public library in North America and is one of the United States' most significant research libraries...

, the Time Warner Center
Time Warner Center
The Time Warner Center is a mixed-use skyscraper developed by AREA Property Partners and The Related Companies in New York City. Its design, by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, consists of two 750 ft towers bridged by a multi-story atrium containing upscale retail shops...

, and the Apthorp building, on Broadway between 78th and 79th streets, the Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum is an encyclopedia art museum located in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. At 560,000 square feet, the museum holds New York City's second largest art collection with roughly 1.5 million works....

, on Eastern Parkway and Washington Avenue, Union Theological Seminary on Broadway and 121st St, as well as in and around The Capitale Building in Downtown New York City on Grand Street and Elizabeth Street, and soundstages in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Filming for the pilot was also done at Hempstead House
Hempstead House
Hempstead House, also known as Castle Gould or Gould-Guggenheim Estate, is a large estate located in Sands Point, New York . Measuring , , Hempstead House has three floors and contains 40 rooms, punctuated by an...

, part of the former Guggenheim estate at Sands Point Preserve on Long Island. The script for the first episode, "Goliath", was leaked some time prior to broadcast.

NBC did not advertise Kings during its broadcast of the 2009 Super Bowl
Super Bowl XLIII
Super Bowl XLIII was an American football game pitting the American Football Conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers against the National Football Conference champion Arizona Cardinals to decide the National Football League champion for the 2008 season. The game was played on February 1, 2009,...

, although it did advertise several other programs. In interviews with NBC executives, Television Week described a three-phase marketing push on behalf of Kings, and stated that NBC was "going out of its way since November to market Kings to so-called cultural tastemakers, hoping they’ll help spread the word to the masses".

Green said that although NBC was editorially supportive of Kings and its religious themes, the network's marketing
Marketing
Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments...

 division shied away from mentioning the drama's Biblical roots and themes of faith in advertising:Green also expressed disappointment that Kings was not marketed to religious audiences:Green attributed the decision to avoid mentioning the show's Biblical roots in promotion to "fear of reprisal from the religious audience".

Casting


The role for King Silas was originally written for Ian McShane
Ian McShane
Ian David McShane is an English actor, director, producer, voice artist, and comedian.Despite appearing in numerous films, McShane is best known for his television roles, particularly the BBC's Lovejoy and HBO's Western drama Deadwood...

, but Green thought that it would be unlikely to get him to play the lead. McShane was sent the script and enjoyed it, and was very open to returning to television after the critically acclaimed HBO series Deadwood
Deadwood (TV series)
Deadwood is an American Western drama television series created, produced and largely written by David Milch. The series aired on the premium cable network HBO from March 21, 2004, to August 27, 2006, spanning three 12-episode seasons. The show is set in the 1870s in Deadwood, South Dakota, before...

.
"Probably two or three hundred" actors auditioned for the role of David Shepherd, before producers came across Chris Egan, "who was a real find," according to Lawrence. Allison Miller
Allison Miller
Allison Miller is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Michelle Benjamin on the NBC series Kings.-Early life:...

 was also cast late in the process, joining Sebastian Stan
Sebastian Stan
Sebastian Stan is a Romanian-born American actor. He is best known for playing Prince Jack Benjamin on the television drama Kings and Carter Baizen on Gossip Girl.-Early life:...

 and Susanna Thompson
Susanna Thompson
Susanna Thompson is an American television and film actress. She is skilled in Aikido and stage combat. She is best known for her role as Karen Sammler on Once and Again.-Career:...

. Brian Cox joined the series in a recurring role, playing a rival to King Silas. Macaulay Culkin
Macaulay Culkin
Macaulay Carson Culkin is an American actor. He became widely known for his portrayal of Kevin McCallister in Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. He is also known for his roles in Richie Rich, Uncle Buck, My Girl, The Pagemaster, and Party Monster...

 also appeared in a multi-episode arc, playing King Silas's nephew, who was exiled for mysterious reasons. Miguel Ferrer
Miguel Ferrer
Miguel José Ferrer is an American actor and voice actor who is often cast as a villain. His notable roles include Bob Morton, a supporting character in RoboCop , the short tempered FBI agent Albert Rosenfield in Twin Peaks, and Dr...

 (Crossing Jordan
Crossing Jordan
Crossing Jordan is an American television crime/drama series that aired on NBC from September 24, 2001 to May 16, 2007. It stars Jill Hennessy as Jordan Cavanaugh, M.D., a crime-solving forensic pathologist employed in the Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Medical Examiner's Office...

), Michael Stahl-David
Michael Stahl-David
Michael Stahl-David is an American actor, perhaps best known for his television role as Sean Donnelly on The Black Donnellys and his lead role in the J. J. Abrams-produced film Cloverfield.-Early life:...

 (The Black Donnellys
The Black Donnellys
The Black Donnellys is an American television drama that debuted on NBC on February 26, 2007 and last aired on April 2, 2007. Thereafter, NBC began releasing new episodes weekly on until the series was officially canceled. The Black Donnellys was created by Paul Haggis and Robert Moresco...

), and Leslie Bibb
Leslie Bibb
Leslie Louise Bibb is an American actress and former fashion model. She transitioned into film and television in late 1990s. She appeared in television shows such as Home Improvement , before she appeared in her first film, the comedy Private Parts , which was followed by her first show The Big Easy...

 (Crossing Jordan
Crossing Jordan
Crossing Jordan is an American television crime/drama series that aired on NBC from September 24, 2001 to May 16, 2007. It stars Jill Hennessy as Jordan Cavanaugh, M.D., a crime-solving forensic pathologist employed in the Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Medical Examiner's Office...

) were also cast for multi-episode arcs. Saffron Burrows
Saffron Burrows
Saffron Dominique Burrows is an English actress and former fashion model, who starred as Det. Serena Stevens on Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Lorraine Weller on Boston Legal.-Early life:...

 appeared in one episode as Death
Death (personification)
The concept of death as a sentient entity has existed in many societies since the beginning of history. In English, Death is often given the name Grim Reaper and, from the 15th century onwards, came to be shown as a skeletal figure carrying a large scythe and clothed in a black cloak with a hood...

.

Reception


An early review of Green's pilot script called the show "bold, bizarre, fun." NBC pre-released the first four episodes of the series to critics and garnered mostly positive reviews. Edward Douglas of ComingSoon.Net stated that "the writing is sharp and the acting is excellent, as Green has assembled a cast that's almost unprecedented for a television show. Ian McShane is as riveting in the role of King Silas as he was as Al Swearengen, giving the sort of loquacious speeches that he's great at giving." Brian Ford Sullivan of The Futon Critic commented that "Kings is ultimately a show you're either going to dismiss as silly and pretentious or fall in love with because of its silliness and pretentiousness. I find myself in the latter category because I'm always a sucker for swing-for-fences serialized shows like this, especially when it looks ... and feels unlike anything on television right now." In a glowing review of the series' pilot, Heather Havrilesky of Salon.com
Salon.com
Salon.com, part of Salon Media Group , often just called Salon, is an online liberal magazine, with content updated each weekday. Salon was founded by David Talbot and launched on November 20, 1995. It was the internet's first online-only commercial publication. The magazine focuses on U.S...

 praised the series' themes, scope, art direction, cinematography and Ian McShane's performance, concluding: "The dialogue is just so artful and poetic, the characters are so appealing, the whole damn package is so original and daring and lovely, that after watching the first four hours, it's impossible not to feel inspired and cheered by the fact that a drama this ambitious and unique could make it onto network TV." Young adult book author Brent Hartinger
Brent Hartinger
Brent Hartinger is an American author and playwright, best known for his novels about gay teenagers.-Early life:Hartinger was born in Washington State. His family moved to Fircrest, Washington when he was an infant. He attended a Catholic grade school and middle school, and a Catholic high...

 said, "The new NBC series Kings ... is top-notch television — smart, original, and thoroughly engrossing — and it will end up reshaping the television landscape in much the way fantasy-esque shows such as Lost and Buffy the Vampire Slayer did." However, writing for gay entertainment website AfterElton.com, Hartinger argued that the show "de-gayed" the romantic aspect between David and Jack — David and Jonathan
David and Jonathan
David and Jonathan were heroic figures of the Kingdom of Israel, whose covenant was recorded favourably in the books of Samuel. Jonathan was the son of Saul, king of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, and David was the son of Jesse of Bethlehem and Jonathan's presumed rival for the crown...

 in the Biblical telling — as well as turning Jack into a stereotypical villain.

Other reviewers were less positive. In a scathing review, Ray Richmond
Ray Richmond
Ray Richmond is a globally syndicated critic and entertainment/media columnist. Richmond has also worked variously as a feature and entertainment writer, beat reporter and TV critic for a variety of publications including the Los Angeles Daily News, Daily Variety, the Orange County Register, the...

 of The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter
Formerly a daily trade magazine, The Hollywood Reporter re-launched in late 2010 as a unique hybrid publication serving the entertainment industry and a consumer audience...

said that Kings "takes an utterly straight-faced and painfully earnest approach to the kind of broad nighttime soap opera that once fueled Dallas
Dallas (TV series)
Dallas is an American serial drama/prime time soap opera that revolves around the Ewings, a wealthy Texas family in the oil and cattle-ranching industries. Throughout the series, Larry Hagman stars as greedy, scheming oil baron J. R. Ewing...

and (especially) Dynasty
Dynasty (TV series)
Dynasty is an American prime time television soap opera that aired on ABC from January 12, 1981 to May 11, 1989. It was created by Richard & Esther Shapiro and produced by Aaron Spelling, and revolved around the Carringtons, a wealthy oil family living in Denver, Colorado...

through the 1980s, but to watch something so anal-retentive and full of itself in the new century can't help but play as unintended farce." Nancy deWolf Smith
Nancy deWolf Smith
Nancy deWolf Smith is an editor and member of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board since 1999.- Biography :Between 1995 and 1999, Smith was editorial page editor for the Asian Wall Street Journal. Previously she was senior editor for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and has worked at National...

 of The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is an American English-language international daily newspaper. It is published in New York City by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corporation, along with the Asian and European editions of the Journal....

also compared the series unfavorably to the work of Aaron Spelling
Aaron Spelling
Aaron Spelling was an American film and television producer. As of 2009, Spelling's eponymous production company Spelling Television holds the record as the most prolific television writer, with 218 producer and executive producer credits...

, and accused the series of "deadening pretentiousness" and "a failure of imagination". However, many reviewers, while criticizing the drama's stylized dialogue or calling its Biblical themes "pretentious", praised Ian McShane's kingly performance and the show's ambitions.

The March 15, 2009, NBC premiere of Kings "was the lowest-rated program between 8 and 11 p.m. on a major broadcast network", garnering a 1.6 rating/4 share, below ABC, CBS, and Fox. This was significantly lower than the ratings for NBC's programming on the previous Sunday, a Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

clip show and a segment of Celebrity Apprentice
The Apprentice (U.S. Season 8)
The Celebrity Apprentice 2 is the eighth installment of the United States version of the reality television series, The Apprentice. It premiered on March 1, 2009. The Celebrity Apprentice 2 aired for two hours on Sundays at 9:00 Eastern time...

. Mediaweek
Mediaweek
Mediaweek was a New York–based trade magazine owned by e5 Global Media. It is part of Adweek Media Group, which in October 2008 announced the merging of its three separate editorial teams into one. In 2011, Mediaweek and Brandweek were merged into Adweek.The chief editor was Michael Burgi....

magazine noted that "one year earlier in this block, the second half of a two-hour edition of Dateline and a repeat of Law & Order was considerably stronger at an average 6.3/10 in the overnights." TV.com
TV.com
TV.com is a website owned by CBS Interactive. The site covers television and focuses on English-language shows made or broadcast in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Japan...

 speculated that NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 underpromoted the show causing the lackluster pilot episode rating.

Due to the unexpectedly rocky start, several media commentators predicted that Kings would be cancelled or have the already-filmed episodes "burned off" on another night, such as Saturday. NBC Entertainment co-chairman Ben Silverman
Ben Silverman
Benjamin Noah "Ben" Silverman is the founder and CEO of Electus, a next generation entertainment studio staked by IAC's Barry Diller....

 was optimistic about the series' prospects:

However, commentators pointed out that Silverman's remarks about the audience growth were "misleading" and noted that the show cost "$10 million [for] Sunday's two-hour debut and is [costing] another $4 million per episode, an extravagant sum for any show and especially so given the program drew only 6 million viewers overall."

The first hour-long episode of the series was broadcast on March 22, 2009, and endured further degradation in the ratings (1.3 rating /3 share), "down another 19% in the 18–49 demo" and "running a distant fourth among the [four] broadcast net[work]s". Kings scored 0.60 on Bill Gorman's Renew/Cancel Index ratio, significantly below the 1.0 threshold for viability, prompting Gorman to speculate that Kings was "certain to be canceled".

After airing only four episodes, Kings was officially pulled from NBC's Sunday schedule. The remaining episodes were to air on Saturday evening. On its first post-Kings Sunday, NBC aired a two-hour episode of Dateline NBC
Dateline NBC
Dateline NBC, or Dateline, is a U.S. weekly television newsmagazine broadcast by NBC. It previously was NBC's flagship news magazine, but now focuses on true crime stories. It airs Friday at 9 p.m. EST and after football season on Sunday at 7 p.m. EST.-History:Dateline is historically notable for...

, enjoying an immediate near-doubling of their Sunday audience (from 3.6 million viewers to 6.4 million viewers). After only one Saturday broadcast, NBC announced that the remaining episodes will air in the summer, from June 13 to July 25.

Michael Green
Michael Green (writer)
Michael Green is an American television and film writer, as well as a comic book scripter. He grew up in Mamaroneck, New York.-Comic Books:Green has been a contributor for Superman/Batman. He also co-wrote the Green Lantern movie with Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim, which was released in 2011...

 suggested that confused marketing and a weak launch contributed to the show's demise. He also described the move to Saturdays as "the first step of cancellation".

Episodes of the program are available on Hulu
Hulu
Hulu is a website and over-the-top subscription service offering ad-supported on-demand streaming video of TV shows, movies, webisodes and other new media, trailers, clips, and behind-the-scenes footage from NBC, Fox, ABC, and Obstacle on October 20th 2011 Nickelodeon and CBS and many other...

. Kings is now No. 33 in Hulu's all-time ranking.

U.S. Nielsen ratings

Order Episode Rating Share Rating/share
Nielsen Ratings
Nielsen ratings are the audience measurement systems developed by Nielsen Media Research, in an effort to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States...


(18–49)
Viewers
(millions)
Rank
(Night)
Rank
(Timeslot)
Rank
(Week)
1 & 2 "Goliath" 3.9 6 1.6/4 6.07 9 3 55
3 "Prosperity" 2.9 5 1.3/2 4.60 13 4 67
4 "First Night" 3.0 5 1.9/3 4.51 13 5 61
5 "Insurrection" 2.5 4 1.1/3 3.61 13 4 59
6 "Judgment Day" 1.5 3 0.6/2 2.41 7 4 64
7 "Brotherhood" 0.9 2 0.3/1 1.59 10 4 39
8 "The Sabbath Queen" 1.2 3 0.5/2 1.94 11 4 28
9 "Pilgrimage" 1.0 3 0.4/2 1.54 11 4 41
10 "Chapter One" 1.1 3 0.3/1 1.30 10 4 34
11 "Javelin" 1.2 2 0.4/2 1.64 11 4 36
12 "The New King (Part 1)" 1.0 2 0.4/2 1.57 11 4 38
13 "The New King (Part 2)" 1.3 3 0.4/2 1.80 10 3 38

DVD


A 3-disc DVD set, entitled Kings – The Complete Series, was released on September 29, 2009. The DVD contains deleted scenes from the show's finale; the scenes were cut because they "created intrigue" for a second season, which by that point the producers knew would not be realized.