Of Kings and Prophets is an American television Costume Drama based on the Biblical Books of Samuel that premiered on March 8, 2016 on ABC but was canceled after only two episodes. The rest of the season aired in at least New Zealand, with the whole series eventually never going physical but made available for online streaming/digital purchase.
It tells the story of the final days of the reign of Saul (Ray Winstone) the first king of Israel, his conflict with the prophet Samuel (Mohammad Bakri) and the rise of David (Olly Rix), a humble shepherd destined to one day become king. Around them unfold the byzantine intrigues of the Israelite court and the unending conflict against the Philistines.
Notably, one of the show's executive producers was author Reza Aslan, best known for his popular nonfiction works about religious history.
This show provides examples of the following tropes:
- Arranged Marriage: Saulís eldest daughter Merav (Jeanine Mason) is promised to Mattiyahu , son of the Elder of Judah, in order to seal an alliance and finally unite the Twelve Tribes of Israel under the rule of the House of Saul.
- Badass Preacher: The prophet Samuel has no problem taking down an assassin with extreme efficiency.
- Behind Every Great Man: Queen Ahinoam is the political brains behind the House of Saul, handling the alliances and knitting together the Twelve Tribes into a unified state.
- Bloodier and Gorier: The violence on this show is considerably more graphic than in the usual biblical adaptation.
- Brains and Brawn: Saul and his wife Ahinoam are for all intents and purposes equal partners in ruling the kingdom, with Saul being the military muscle and Ahinoam handling the nuances of politics.
- California Doubling: The series is set in the ancient Middle East, but is filmed in South Africa.
- Decadent Court: The Israelite court is full of intrigue, both internal and external.
- Defiant to the End: Agag, the Amalekite king, remains defiant and spits at the Israelites even after his whole people have been wiped out, even after he is captured and even as Samuel is about to kill him.
- Evil Prince: Saulís youngest son, prince Ishbaal is a ruthless asshole who will not let anyone stand in the way of his familyís power.
- Final Solution: Samuel relays to Saul the command from God to exterminate the Amalekites down to the last man, woman and child.
- First-Episode Twist: Rizpah, Saulís slave and concubine is a mole working for the Philistine king Achish.
- Foreign Money Is Proof of Guilt: Hanoch, the Elder of Ruben is revealed to be a traitor because his 9-year-old son uses Philistine silver engraved with the image of Dagon to reward David for his music playing. After his room is searched a whole lot more of it is found.
- Good is Not Nice: Samuel is the Prophet of the Lord and his direct conduit to the people of Israel. He will also cut your throat and chop you to pieces without the slightest hesitation is he believes that is Elohim's will.
- Holy Is Not Safe: Queen Zaphra, King Achishís wife, is extremely wary of crossing the God of the Israelites, since she still bears the gruesome scars from the plagues said deity sent against them when the Philistines temporarily captured The Ark of the Covenant years before.
- Hotter and Sexier: Particularly noteworthy given the source material, the show ramps up the sex scenes as close to Game of Thrones levels as they can get on network television.
- Insistent Terminology: The Israelite only ever refer to their God as Elohim, and never by name.
- Large and in Charge: Goliath is King Achishís top general, and as should be expected, towers above every single character on the show.
- The Mole: Rizpah is one for the Philistines inside the Israelite court.
- Perspective Flip: The scenes in the Philistine camp show how the God of the Old Testament would be perceived by the enemies of Israel as a terrifying entity one should not cross.
- Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Merav and Mattiyahu are engaged to each other for political reasons, but they love each other deeply.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: From the prophet Samuel of all people, when he demolishes an assassin creeping up behind him.Samuel: Elohim sees everything.
- Punished for Sympathy: Samuel informs everyone that Elohim has withdrawn his blessing from Saul for sparing the Amalekite King Agag instead of completely annihilating them as instructed.
- Religious Bruiser: As should be expected from a group of biblical badasses, all the Israelite warriors are profoundly devout. On the opposite camp, Goliath never neglects his prayers to Dagon for the safety of his family.
- Sexy Surfacing Shot: Merav takes a ceremonial bath to purify herself before her Arranged Marriage. She's later seen rising out of the water with a Toplessness from the Back shot.
- Short-Runners: The show was canceled after only airing 2 episodes. The other 7 episodes aired in New Zealand, at least.
- Suffer the Slings: Davidís weapon of choice, he uses it to kill a lion.
- Technology Levels: The Israelites are at a severe disadvantage against the Philistines because they only have bronze weapons, while the Philistines already have superior ones made of iron.
- Too Dumb to Live: Hanoch, the Elder of Ruben receives 10,000 bars of silver from King Achish to switch sides during the upcoming battle. He not only thinks that itís a good idea to keep all this silver in his room in Saulís palace, but he gives some of it to his son to spend. This gets him caught and executed in short order.
- We ARE Struggling Together: One of the main troubles that Saul has when fighting the Philistines is the lack of unity among the Twelve Tribes of Israel.