“Of Kings and Prophets” (ABC) pilot preview: when “The Bible” is just… a “Game Of Thrones”

Ofkingsandprophets

Written & produced by Adam Cooper & Bill Collage (Exodus, Assasin’s Creed, Tower Heist, The Transporter Refueled). Co-produced by Chris Brancato (Boomtown, Hannibal, Narcos), Jason Reed (Casino Royale, The Dark Knight, Harry Potter), Reza Aslan (Tyrant) & Mahyad Tousi (We are New York). Directed by Jeffrey Nachmanoff (Hostages, Chicago Fire, Legends, The Day After Tomorrow). For ABC, ABC Studios & BoomGen Studios. 64 pages.

Description: An epic Biblical saga that begins during the reign of Saul, first King of Israel – and follows his dramatic fall from grace and the rise of his successor, David. Living in the land of milk and honey isn’t easy when enemies circle on all sides…

With Oliver Rix (The Muskeeters), Ray Winstone (The Departed, Noah, Hugo Cabret, Indiana Jones 4), Simone Kessell (Underbelly, Terra Nova), Maisie Richardson-Sellers (The Originals, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens), James Floyd, Mohammad Bakri (Tyrant)…

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Damn! I will say this once and then move on anyway: I don’t think I am legitimate to judge a pilot script like Kings And Prophets‘. Because I don’t know much about The Bible -and I’m not really interested to learn more- so I can’t say if it’s faithful to the “true” story (wink wink) or not. Plus in another news, I don’t watch Game Of Thrones -yeah, you can throw stones at me and spit on my grave when I die. What the writers are cleary trying is to make some sort of biblical version of the HBO hit. But legitimate or not, my vision of what the show might be(come) may not be that uninteresting -yes, I’m selling my article here, please keep reading- since I was dragging my feet to read it and I kind of not hated it along the way. I’m not saying I will watch it if it’s picked-up but I’m curious about the outcome…

Kings and Prophets found the best way possible to attract the young demo towards what traditionally appeals more to the older viewers. It’s not really about teaching people the history of the Israelites, even if it’s inspired by it through The Book of Samuel in the Old Testament -and I’m sure the Jewish community will be attentive- it is more about embarking us on an eventful journey with strong willing, fearless characters who are about to change the lives of thousands of other people. Game of Thrones is a soap opera in its bones. The Bible is too, in a way. Kings and Prophets even more. It’s about lies, treasons, revenge… Death is everywhere all the time. Love is in the air too, but sex is a weapon, for women but not only. There is a feminist vibe thanks to the character of Ahinoam mostly, the first Queen of Israel but also the real King of Israel when you take a closer look at her doings. And her daughters, at least one of them, could follow her steps. In a way, there is some Reign in Kings And Prophets. It’s more adult of course than the CW show but they play with the same cards, they just don’t use it the same way. And Reign is quite a good show, for those who are rolling their eyes right now.

The three main characters are men, obvisouly. Saul (Ray Winstone) is the unworthy old King of Israel who will, sooner or later, die in atrocious conditions. He’s on the edge of madness, he even threatens to kill his son Jonathan who he considers as a traitor. His fall from grace happens because he refuses a genocide God has ordered… Or is it Samuel? Samuel (Mohammad Bakri) is the narrator of the show -and his voiceover is heavily present in the first and the last act, which is necessary to properly understand what happened before we arrive and as you can imagine, a lot happened. He’s the prophet, but above all a giant liar with an hidden agenda. Finally, there’s David (Oliver Rix), the young innocent and handsome shepherd, who will become the Queen’s new beau. We like him very much for obvious reasons, but also because he offers the best scene of the script: a big fight with a lion he defeats beautifully! If done properly, it could be a very impressive moment of television. As long as ABC Studios don’t use too many ugly CGI (I’m probably dreaming there). There’s also a big death in the pilot. And it was all shot in South Africa, which means it should look stunning.

ABC is very high on the show and recently added Narcos‘ Chris Brancato to Kings And Prophets’ team, eyeing him as showrunner if the pilot goes to series. It means it is very likely and according to Deadline, they are already assembling a writers’ room to start working on new scripts ASAP while the order may be as big as 15 episodes for the first season. It sounds like a mid-season show, possibly to replace Once Upon A Time when it is on a break, but we can also imagine a fall launch, right behind Once Upon A Time at 9. I wouldn’t have bet on it before reading the script, now I’m intrigued though not totally convinced. It could crash, it could work, it could even be a hit. Everything’s possible. Time will tell…

4 comments

  1. Tonya says:

    I have felt uncomfortable about this show since it was announced. The idea of Samuel being a bad guy makes even more worried about this show possible going to series. It makes me wonder if God will be present in this series or will it be people abusing power in the name of God, and the message of the show being ‘there is no God just a bunch of manipulators and degenerates running society into the ground’

  2. Boby says:

    With 15 episodes, the show will probably fit the “Resurrection” time slot between late september and february. It’s better to air it when “Game of Thrones” is not around. And a new show could start in march, like a season 2 of “Secrets & Lies” or something else.

  3. tash says:

    of kings and prophets is one of the rare pilots this year I’m really interested in but i didn’t want to get too attached to it cause i thought it would never get picked up… but things have changed since the recent events. i knew abc was opportunistic with this one : 3 spoons of game of thrones, 1 tea spoon of the bible and probably an icing that tastes just like once upon a time. i’m ok with that because i think abc is baking something ambitious enough and accessible for the network audience (i’m sorry but violence, blood and graphic sex scenes isn’t my thing even though most game of thrones fans will disagree ^^).
    i first thought abc was developping it as a bridge during once upon a time break but if they really want to go with a 15 episode order, sunday at 9 is the right slot. i guess just like once upon a time 4 years ago, it’s make or break.

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