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Faith & TV: 'Of Kings & Prophets': Good or bad?

With several faith-based films hitting the big screen this Easter season ("Risen," "Young Messiah," "Miracles From Heaven"), I thought it was notable that ABC would offer something for the small screen -- a weekly drama with a biblical premise.

I saw a few trailers for the show, which premiered last night, March 8, and thought I would take a look. 

After tuning in, I went online and found reviews of the drama which helped put some things in perspective for me.

For instance, I had no idea that the show was supposed to be a sort of "Game of Thrones" with a biblical focus. 

Did it succeed if that was its mission?

Maybe. 

Like HBO's popular drama, the "Of Kings & Prophets" premiere included plenty of blood and gore in detailed battle scenes (accordingly, the premiere episode is called "Offerings of Blood"). There's also an interesting set of scenes in which David's sheep are killed and he takes on the formidable lion who attacked them.

But unlike "Game of Thrones" which seems to excel at bringing literary characters to vivid life, there's not much character development, at least in the March 8 premiere.

They might want to spend more time giving viewers more of an in-depth glimpse into the motivations and backstory of some of the characters, particularly David.

I did think it was nice that they focused on King Saul in the premiere. In fact, that's the set up for the first episode. The show is described as a drama based on the biblical books of Samuel. so we were initially introduced to King Saul, his family and his quest to unite the tribes of Israel. The Prophet Samuel, of course, makes several appearances and it becomes readily apparent that King Saul's idea of acceptable warfare and Samuel's (who is speaking for God) are famously at odds.

Also of note was the premiere's focus on the female members of Saul's family. In David's early biblical narrative, I had always placed much focus on Jonathan, Saul's son, because he became David's good friend. So the emphasis on the females in Saul's house, his daughters and his wife, was interesting to me. 

So, was the show good or bad?

I'd say it's too early to tell.

It might be a little of both or somewhere in the middle.

The preview for next week's show looked sketchy. It looked like the show will have King Saul's queen trying to hook up with David. That doesn't bode well for the show, in my opinion. David's biblical arc has enough drama, intrigue and scandal in it already without the show's script adding what I deem as extra stuff. Apparently, according to one website review of the show, at least one scholar has surmised that Saul's Queen Ahinoam is the same Ahinoam who was listed as one of David's wives, so an affair between the shepherd-who-would-be-king and the queen isn't that implausible. Still, it just seemed pointless to add it to this show's narrative because, like I said, David has enough going on already.

It would have been nice had they added some form of narration to give viewers a biblical sense of perspective a la "The Bible" miniseries. But alas, this isn't "The Bible," the hit cable channel series (and later, "AD: The Bible Continues" on network TV) produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.     

Anyway, my Christian clergy sources would likely say "Of Kings & Prophets" may definitely be good for at least one thing: It might encourage folks to read the Bible for themselves.

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Read what other news and entertainment outlets said about the show:

Washington Post: "'Of Kings and Prophets' tried to be 'Game of Thrones' and failed. What Went Wrong?"

IGN.com: "'Of Kings and Prophets' review" 

Entertainment Weekly: "'Of Kings and Prophets' Entertainment Weekly review" 

Variety: "'Of Kings and Prophets' review" 

Carla Hinton

Religion Editor

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