A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this drama -- which is set in a fictional modern-day country -- is all about intrigue. Characters are embroiled in complicated court scheming, constantly jockeying for position and influence. There's plenty of plotting and even a few assassinations, though little violence takes place on screen. And while there's plenty of gossiping about the characters' romantic lives, not too much sex is shown. But although the show isn't as racy as some of its primetime compatriots, the complex relationships and machinations may be too complicated for kids or even young teens to follow.
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What's the story?
KINGS takes place in the fictional country of Gilboa, a modern-day monarchy in which King Silas (Ian McShane) is the ultimate authority. Beloved by his subjects, Silas is capricious and manipulative; he never grants a favor without an agenda and has no compunction about imprisoning or assassinating anyone who threatens his rule. Silas' carefully orchestrated world is shaken when his son is captured in battle by Gilboa's archrival, Gath. The kingdom is thrilled when heroic farm boy David Shepherd (Christopher Egan) rescues the prisoner, and he's soon summoned to the glittering capital city of Shiloh (which looks a lot like New York, with extra-shiny skyscrapers) to mingle with royalty -- literally. As the fresh face at court, Shepherd is quickly enmeshed in the various schemes and plots of courtiers who are constantly jockeying for power and influence. He also catches the eye of the king's beautiful daughter, Michelle (Alison Miller) ... will Silas approve?
Is it any good?
Loosely based on the biblical tale of David and Goliath about a shepherd who rises to become king, Kings offers a kind of big-screen spectacle that's rarely seen (on television or elsewhere) these days. Egan's Shepherd is simple enough, and certainly seems believably out of his element when dealing with all of the court plotting and politics. But the star here is McShane, who seems born to play a scheming, controlling ruler, a modern-day version of the kings of old whose word was law and all feared to cross.
Placing Silas' feudal kingdom in the early 21st century is both jarring and entertaining, creating a world that's familiar on the surface but different enough that it's hard to discern the hidden agendas -- and there are many. Don't expect everything to make sense in this alternate world, because there are some things that are just different enough to make it hard to predict how people will react (as well as some twists that defy logic but are necessary to make key plot threads move forward -- would the king's only son really be held prisoner in a loosely guarded tent just 100 yards beyond the poorly defended front lines?). But the show's inconsistencies also help make Kings fun to watch: It's a modern soap opera with modern conflicts, but set in a time that has long passed.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why they think this show is set in a fictional country with a king instead of a real-world democracy like the United States. How does that affect the story and the characters? How are monarchies different from democracies? Do you think a monarchy seems like an effective way to rule a modern country? How does King Silas differ from kings in fairy tales, swords 'n' sorcery movies, and other stories? Would you consider this show a fantasy or a drama? Why?