Kings and Queens

NBC's new epic saga Kings imagines a modern-day monarchy with a queer spin -- complete with late night trysts and a jab at 'don't ask, don't tell.'

BY Dan Avery

March 13 2009 12:00 AM ET

With all of the
personal betrayals and courtly intrigues, it would be
easy to think that
Kings, NBC's new mid-season drama, takes its inspiration from one of
Shakespeare's great plays. After all, the show boasts a tragic
king with upstart children, a conniving queen, and a nation
exhausted by war.

But the show, which
debuts with a two-hour movie on Sunday, is based on
considerably older source material -- the biblical saga of King
David. "I've always been interested in the story of
David," says series creator Michael Green. "He goes
from being a simple shepherd to the king of an entire nation.
There's so much dramatic potential in that story."

In Gilboa, a
postindustrialized country with modern technology and a newly
formed monarchy, King Silas Benjamin (Deadwood

's Ian McShane) wears a heavy crown. Conflict with the
neighboring Gath continues unabated, thwarting his efforts to
bring his people into a new peaceful era. When Silas's son
Jack (Sebastian Stan) is taken hostage on the frontlines, the
future of Gilboa and its reining clan is thrown into jeopardy.
But a daring rescue by a young soldier named David Shepherd
(Christopher Egan) restores order and links the inexperienced
country boy's destiny with that of the royal family.

With its Old Testament
origins and religious undertones -- King Silas seeks counsel
from both the Almighty and the enigmatic Reverend Samuels (Oz

's Eamonn Walker) --
Kings

could be pushing the well-established division between church
and state on the small screen.

"There's an
assumption that you can't put religion on television,"
Green says, "but we showed it to religious people and the
response was overwhelmingly positive." The show walks a
fine line, he adds, neither proselytizing nor condemning faith
but "showing how religion can be a factor in the choices
people make, for better or worse."

Tags: television

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