Review: Of Kings And Prophets (ABC) - Better not call Saul
By Robin Oatley on March 9, 2016
Let’s set the scene. It is the year 1000 BC, roughly. Israel is under attack by the Philistines. King Saul (Ray Winstone, Noah) tries to defend his country from the brutal attacks by uniting Israel’s twelve tribes. Meanwhile, shepherd David (Olly Rix, The Musketeers) has some weird-ass visions in his sleep about his flock being killed by a lion, only to find out that it actually happened. Great shepherd you are, David.
The town of Bethlehem is in disarray upon hearing about the lion that roams around their lands. Their animals are their livelihood and if they cannot pay their taxes they will have to face repercussions. David takes it upon himself to plead for the villagers since it was kind of his fault anyway. Plus he’s bored out of his mind in Bethlehem so he loves the chance to go on an adventure of some sorts. Even if that adventure means he runs the risk of having to endure a nice flogging.
And a flogging is exactly what he is about to get, so he opts to kill the lion instead. He sets out to do so, while in the capital one of Saul’s daughters is about to marry to seal the unison of the twelve tribes. To do so, Saul goes to the prophet Samuel (Mohammad Bakri, Hanna K) to ask for a blessing of the marriage. Samuel tells him that the lord asks of Saul to kill all the Amalekites because the Amalekites killed the women and children when Moses led his people out of Egypt. Saul refuses, because the Amalekites are no threat to them and this happened many generations ago, but Samuel insists it is the only way to receive a blessing from the lord for the marriage. Saul has no other option than to comply.
David returns to the capital after killing the lion with a rock. You’d think he would be better at being a shepherd considering he can kill a lion with a rock the size of his palm. Saul is off to kill the Amalekites, down to the last sleepy child, so Saul’s wife Ahinoam (Simone Kessell, Terra Nova) takes care of business now. She offers David a job as a musician and so he stays in the capital. Little does Ahinoam know, David will slowly begin to live up to his God-given fate as the next king of Israel.
I am not the first to see the success of reflected in this series, and I won’t be the last. Sex and violence sells, or so it seems, so includes lots of it. The story of David and Saul is the perfect setting for gore and racy images, so you’d think it would work perfectly. It doesn’t.
It is likely that it is the superficiality of the story so far that makes all the violence and sex seem like nothing more than efforts to capture the public’s attention. You can see efforts were made to create depth by humanizing the characters. For instance, Saul is visibly reluctant to kill Amalekite women and children. However, the humanization never really comes across.
The story as we know it from the bible is complex, with many social and political factors, and the ABC version of it includes about three times as much characters, and about ten times as much things are happening. Just like the trailer, the premiere episode of the series is a concatenation of scenes that almost seem as if they could be from different series. Naturally, this makes it difficult to really explore characters and events to such an extent that they become, well… interesting. So if you’re looking for a good way to fill your Tuesday nights, you’re better off not tuning in to ABC.
Of Kings And Prophets has concluded its run after 1 season.