Casting: I'm not overly impressed with Winstone's (Saul) acting, but in general the acting is good, particularly given how much plot needed to be set up in an hour (and expositions are nearly always more boring). I was pleased to see how many of the actors were not, in fact, white-- unlike so many productions of Biblical stories--yet several of the major characters, including both kings, are played by white actors. It'd be nice to see the race that would have been a minority at the time be a minority among the extras rather than the royalty.
Unto the people complaining about the inaccuracy of the accents: frankly, I don't know what you actually wanted to see instead. We have no idea what accents the Israelites would have had. Scholars can't even agree on how to pronounce the Hebrew alphabet, much less the vowels that don't actually appear in manuscripts until about two thousand years after these events took place. Unless you would rather this entire show be recorded in modern Hebrew (which is just as historically inaccurate, incidentally), with subtitles, I'm not sure what qualifies as "accurate accents." It's a British production. They have British accents. They even pronounced half of the names more accurately than usual, aside from Saul's and David's (Merav, Mattiyahu--sidebar: theophoric names were not actually common at this time, but this would be an accurate form, etc.)
Writing/Characterization: As I mentioned, this is a lot of exposition to cover in a single episode. Evidently the show is primarily about David, rather than Saul, as the show jumps into the books of Samuel one chapter before David first appears, meaning we lose all of the backstory on Samuel, Saul, and Saul's family prior to this point. That said, the writers did a decent job setting up the characters. Samuel is curmudgeonly, as he is in most of the story (aside from his childhood narratives). Saul is conflicted and trying (not very successfully) to balance military needs with diplomatic needs. David is young and perhaps somewhat brash, but with a good heart.
It's nice to see these characters as humanized for once. The Sunday school version of this story paints Samuel as the perfect prophet, David as the humble hero, and Saul as the total villain, but this is hardly the picture the Biblical story actually paints. All of these characters have flaws and virtues and they do great things and they fail, like every human being. Even God is at times somewhat humanized as a character in the books of Samuel. But it is the completeness of David's character and his utter humanity in this story that have made him such a captivating figure for millennia, and it is nice to see hints that that is the story being portrayed in this series.
The women are more vocal than in the Biblical story, but that is necessary. Most of the women in the Bible are not given a complete characterization, so writers of adaptations like this have to take liberties. And indeed they have, but perhaps plausibly so: the women are most vocal when together without men present, and their political power comes from marriage and espionage, both of which are likely true. Additionally, their sexuality is more modernized, which may be somewhat inaccurate, but helps modern viewers enter the story. Never mind that, regardless of what the actual rules were regarding pre-marital sex, there are always people who break those rules--probably not princesses, but the point stands.
Gratuitous sex & violence?: I don't see it. Everyone is comparing this to Game of Thrones, but the sex and violence part doesn't seem excessive the way it definitely does in Game of Thrones. The atmosphere of the show is definitely GoT-esque, but a) the sex and violence are clearly there in the source material (which, to be fair, they also are for GoT), b) the sex is generally tasteful, if of modern sensibility and sometimes not present in the actual source story (see above), and c) the violence is not excessive (though of course, we haven't yet seen extensive battles).
Use of source material: People used to the Sunday school version of this story may be somewhat troubled to find that the plot and characterization does not altogether match what they know of David and Saul. And indeed, certain liberties are taken with the story, such as David's face-off with the lion, which happens before any of his three introductory stories within the books of Samuel. Speaking of which, the beginning of his story is somewhat unclear--the show acknowledges his shepherd origins, and the episode ends with him playing his harp for Saul, but he has not yet been anointed by Samuel. This is out of order of the Biblical story.
However, given that David is introduced three separate times in Samuel (at the anointing, at his harp-playing--which doesn't reference the anointing--and then at his duel with Goliath), all this is a bit nit-picky. In general, the characterizations in the show are quite promisingly faithful to the source, as I've mentioned before. It remains to be seen how many liberties are taken with the plot. I would have liked to see more directly taken from the Biblical story in this episode, but my guess is that the need for character exposition drove the invented stories more than disregard for source material.
Summary: All in all, a promising start for Of Kings and Prophets. It is perhaps not what you may have expected, based on what you know of the story from synagogue or church, but the intent seems to be to remain faithful to the story in all its dramatic flair. That both Saul and David are played by white actors is not ideal, but far more of the faces you see than usual in these British-accent Bible movies/shows are people of color, which is a nice change.
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