King David is coming to TV screens near you

New show based on Samuel I will tell story of Israel's legendary king from 3,000 years ago, with creators saying they're going for accuracy.

Ari Yashar ,

Statue of King David (illustration)
Statue of King David (illustration)
Flash 90

The heroic life of the legendary Jewish King David, the prototype of the Messiah who ruled Israel 3,000 years ago, is set to come to your TV this March, and the creators of the show promise to try to stay true to the source material from Samuel I.

The show, Of Kings And Prophets, was to be released in Fall 2015, but the pilot was reshot and a new cast was gathered, with a new airtime set for Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. starting March 8, reports Deadline on Saturday.

“This show is set 1,000 BC, and it needs tender loving care,” said Adam Cooper, explaining the delay and decision to redouble efforts on the series.

Cooper together with Bill Collage is creating the show for ABC. The two previously worked as co-writers on Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings, which came out in 2014 and was promptly panned by critics.

At a TCA panel on Saturday, Cooper said he and Collage "were pretty bruised by how that came out, the criticism about whitewashing is something that matters to us very much." The two told the panel that as a result of that experience, they sought to gather a more diverse cast than the standard white European actors they had representing the Exodus story set in the Middle East.

“We look for the best cast possible,” said Cooper. “We do it with an eye toward diversity, but also with finding the best cast possible.”

The new TV show is in fact the second attempt in recent years to recapture the Biblical hero King David. In 2009, NBC put out a show called Kings that placed the king in modern times in a fictional kingdom modeled on the US.

Reportedly Of Kings And Prophets aims to stay more accurate to the source material, with the creators turning to Reza Aslan, a religious scholar and author, to serve as executive producer. However, Aslan is a Muslim Iranian-American, raising questions for some as to why a Jewish scholar was not brought on board for the story of the most famous Jewish king.

“What we’re doing is a faithful a translation, inspired by Samuel 1, one of the great stories of world literature,” promised Chris Brancato, executive producer of the show.

"We have, as dramatists, to breathe emotion” into the story, he said in an acknowledgment to artistic license. “We have to fill in what we call the negative space, the psychological complexity and motivations of these characters. ...We’ve sought to make the show modern, to have a modern pulse.”

The producers say they have in fact scaled back the violence from the original Samuel I, with Brancato describing the atmosphere of the piece as "a non-dragons Game of Thrones."