Last Sunday, I pleaded with you, the readers of Premium Hollywood, to watch the premiere of NBC’s “Kings,” describing it as “an epic drama with the kind of scope that you rarely see on television in series form” and assuring you that “it needs to be a hit right out of the box, lest it be canceled without ever having a chance to build on its concept.”
How did that request pan out?
Well, I think the opening sentence of the Hollywood Reporter’s piece – “NBC’s ‘Kings’ had a devastating premiere Sunday night.” – says it all, doesn’t it? (Actually, the headline did a pretty good job in its own right: “NBC’s ‘Kings’ dethroned in ratings.”) To borrow a line from another great yet under-appreciated series, the facts were these: the premiere of “Kings” drew only 6 million viewers and was the lowest-rated program between 8 and 11 p.m. on a major broadcast network.
The ever-snarky but nonetheless generally well-informed Nikki Finke over at L.A. Weekly‘s Deadline Hollywood Daily wasn’t afraid to lay the blame for the series at the feet of NBC’s long-suffering executive, Ben Silverman:
I’m told NBC Universal spent a whopping $10 million on Sunday’s two-hour opener for ‘Kings’ and another $4 million per episode. That’s a staggering amount of money to lavish on any drama series, especially one that’s a bomb. Nor does Jeff Zucker have anyone to blame but himself for this disaster. Because I hear that Ben Silverman was hands-on. ‘Kings’ was supposed to move into the Thursday 10 PM ‘ER’ slot (once coveted when the network was still Must-See TV) but has now been banished to Sunday at 8 PM where it can’t do any harm since no one is watching NBC that night anyway. This latest failure follows NBC’s derivative restaurant reality series ‘The Chopping Block,’ also receiving a pathetic 4 share in 18-to-49 demos for its debut Wednesday. No wonder Ben has less and less to do with programming — which was why he was hired in the first place — and more and more to do with liaising with advertisers.
Y’know, I’d say, “Ouch,” but it’s not like this is anything even remotely close to the worst thing Ms. Frinke has had to say about Mr. Silverman.
The worst part of all of this is that, despite being a ratings failure, “Kings” really is just as good as I said it was. Some of you did indeed take my suggestion to heart, and I get the impression that most of those who did so came away extremely glad that they did so. For those of you who either forgot to watch or just plain chose not to, I come to once again to beg and plead with you to tune in.
Here’s a nutshell summary of last week’s premiere, for those who didn’t catch it:
King Silas Benjamin (Ian McShane) is the leader of a land known as Gilboa; aside from the difference in government, it seems an awful lot like America. Despite Silas’s optimism, Gilboa finds itself in a war with the neighboring nation of Gath. During the war, a young soldier named David Shepherd (Chris Egan) makes a snap decision to save a couple of his comrades who’ve been kidnapped by the enemy; as it turns out, one of those comrades is Jack Benjamin (Sebastian Stan), King Silas’s son. David becomes a national hero, the king tells David that he owes him a thank you, “even if you ask for half my kingdom, as the saying goes.” What luck: David falls head over heels in love with the king’s headstrong daughter, Michelle (Allison Miler). Behind the scenes, Silas is offered a truce between Gath and Gilboa, but despite the bloodshed that might be prevented, the despicable William Cross (Dylan Baker), a businessman who has a significant financial stake in the war, tells the king, “This truce might not be the best thing for the country right now.” When Silas decides to go against Cross’s “suggestion,” explaining that David’s actions have made it impossible for him to ignore the the opportunity for peace, Cross angrily decides to launch into the most evil revenge tactics in his repertoire.
That was last week. I’ve seen this week’s episode, and it’s just as solid.
Silas is concerned that, although David might make for good P.R., his complete lack of knowledge about political dealings will prove to be a liability. The solution? Have him knocked off. (Boy, if that’s not straight out of the Al Swearengen playbook, I don’t know what is.) Fortunately for David, however, the representatives from Gath – Premiere Damien Shaw (Mark Margolis) and General Malek (the always-awesome Miguel Ferrer) – decide that they want to meet this near-mythical member of the Gilboan armed forces while the specifics of the truce are given a final once-over. Cross continues to make things miserable for Silas, and while Michelle bonds with David’s mom, Jack’s annoyance at his omission from the state dinner guest list leads him to offer some rebellion aginst his father…though, due to Cross’s shenanigans, it doesn’t go quite as planned.
Please watch “Kings” tonight, even though I’m not going to be the asshole who tacks on the additional line, “Because it’s a damned sight better than (INSERT SHOW HERE).” I will, however, say that there’s no show running against it that can’t readily be downloaded or watched online, so have a heart and give “Kings” a chance.