Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NBC - "Kings" Episodes 1 & 2. Missing a critical main character

The premiere of Kings had me shocked, a major network was really making a TV show (loosely) based on the Bible. As I watched these first episodes, I couldn't help but think that there might be people who would be interested in the original story these were based on. For those of you who are interested, you can find the original biblical account in 1 Samuel 8-17. I'm guessing that the series will weave in and out of the biblical narrative and might even jump around a bit.

I think one my major problems with this series is going to be the liberal non-literal interpretation of the scripture passages. I think the show will interpret the story this way for 2 reasons:

1). The culture of today rejects the Bible as the literal retelling of historical events.

2). A liberal interpretation is much easier to "stretch" for the sake of the writers.

I'm not going to fault Hollywood for incorrect biblical interpretation, but I'd like to point out where traditional, orthodox interpretation of the scriptures and more modern non-literal interpretations differ.

So here we go, episode 1 (parts 1&2) (spoilers to follow!)

It was interesting seeing the modern depictions of the biblical narrative. Ancient cities are replaced with modern nations complete with skyscrapers, tanks, cell phones, and corporations. It's refreshing to see an old story gain new life with a modern twist.

The characters seemed pretty familiar. Samuel is now a black preacher, but with what seems like less authority than the Samuel in the Bible. David is older than what I would have imagined him to be in the original stories, but the actor that plays him does a decent job. Here is where I first noticed a departure from the biblical narrative. David is pegged at being a down to earth nice guy. Sure I guess in our culture nice guys are seen as moral and maybe even religious, but this was a man after God's own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Nowhere in the episode does David even mention his faith. It seems like NBC's idea of a man after God's own heart is someone who does what they think is "right." There is no reason for God to choose David in the series, I'm sure there were lots of humble nice guys to choose from, so why David?

King Saul (Kings Silas) I think is the best portrayed character so far. We have a hard time grappling with a ruler with absolute power and even Silas was in the pocket of a major corporation. The bibles picture of Saul was a man who was impressive in stature, weak morally, prone to jealousy, rash decisions, and anger. Seems pretty spot on.

I'll only mention this week a few things about Jonathan (aka Jack Benjamin). David and Jonathan in the biblical narrative became extremely intimate friends. David says when speaking of their relationship: "your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women" 2 Sam 1:26 (ESV)

The word "love" here in Hebrew is ʾahabâ and denotes deep commitment. The Hebrew had a word for erotic/sexual love which is dôd. You can see what the word means in context in Song of Songs: "Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine" Song 1:2 (ESV)

It's extremely obvious from the first episode that the NBC series is going to go for the more juicy incorrect interpretation of David and Jonathan's relationship and make it sexual. This isn't surprising since our culture in America equates love with sex and well, in all honesty - it will get better ratings that way.

Something I'm interested in is whether NBC/the writers will have the courage to portray God something other than some strange force that controls butterflies. It was God who gave David the courage and success with Goliath. It was God who saved the Israelites from their enemies. It was God that David's heart belonged to. I'm interested to see whether or not this series will neuter God's role in the narrative, or if He will pay a bigger role in the show.

Because of this, Kings is missing a critical main character of the Biblical Narrative... God. We'll have to see where things go in the future.

Grace and Peace :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

New NBC TV series - "Kings"

Ah, thank you NBC for giving me something to blog about! From the NBC website:
From executive producer Michael Green (NBC’s "Heroes") comes a riveting new drama about a modern day monarchy. "Kings" is a contemporary re-telling of the timeless tale of David and Goliath. This series is an epic story of greed and power, war and romance, forbidden loves and secret alliances -- and a young hero who rises to power in a modern-day kingdom.
It's a great concept for a show really. The Bible is full of fantastic stories with complex characters and as I would tell my youth group teenagers, if they made a movie about the Bible it would have to be rated "R" or "NC-17." But like any book Hollywood touches, there will be a collision of the original story and "artistic license." Will Kings stay true to the meaning of the origninal stories, or will NBC use people's limited knowledge of the Bible and large Christian American population to take this concept all the way to the bank?

As I watch these episodes, I'll post my thoughts here and try to compare/contrast the advancing story with the biblical accounts. As for the quality of the TV program, I'll leave that to much more articulate critics.

I'll try and post my thoughts about the premiere tomorrow. You can watch Kings on NBC's website or my favorite, on Hulu.