NBC tried to break the mold of network television last night with the premiere of Kings, an ambitious new drama from Everwood and Heroes producer Michael Green. It has big-budget production, a convincing cast, and a plot unlike anything else on network television--so of course no one watched it.
Kings was overthrown in the ratings, drawing only 6 million viewers and a 1.6 rating and 4 share in the 18-49 demo, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The numbers make it stack up comparably to the wretched (and now sunk) Crusoe, another ambitious project attempted by the peacock.
However, the difference here is Kings was actually… good. Or at least compelling and unique. So what went wrong? A fair amount of the fail can be attributed to NBC. Ask anyone prior to last night's premiere what the show was about, and you'd be met with blank stares, if any at all. Kings was not only mis-marketed (an orange screen with a butterfly logo doesn't tell us a darned thing), but also underpromoted. In order to sell a product, you have to sell a product, capiche NBC?
A re-telling of The Bible's David, Goliath, and King Saul story, Kings is set in an alternate history where first-world countries are still run as monarchies. King Silas (Deadwood's Ian McShane, perfectly cast) rules his kingdom as a beloved leader, but when a young war hero named David (Chris Egan) changes the tide of war through an act of bravery, the balance of power shifts. Kings is a show about becoming a hero, the pitfalls of fame, and political puppetry; in other words, it's probably not fit for network television.
Kings certainly has its shortcomings--it's not perfect by any stretch--but it also is unlike anything else on network television. It's a shame NBC didn't treat it as such.
Were you one of the few that watched Kings? And do you want more of this style of TV on network television, or does it belong on cable?