Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Script to Screen: Kings pilot

Last week I reviewed the Kings pilot script and did a breakdown of the structure.

On Sunday I watched the premiere... and I kind of think I love it. I'm not sure what show those critics were watching that brought the Metacritic score below 60, but the episode I watched deserved at least an extra 20 points.

But that's not the point of this post. Today I'm going to talk about the differences from the written script and the aired pilot.

This shouldn't take long.

What few changes I noticed seemed mostly to deal with cleaning the script up for network TV. The version I read had more than a few of the late George Carlin's favorite words, not to mention public sex between David and Michelle. Not that we see that sex, but it's blatantly referenced.

Let's see, what else? The opening scenes with Silas making his speech and David meeting the reverend are entirely new. And because David meets the reverend here, it also alters their scene at the banquet later, but only slightly.

Also, in the script, Princess Michelle tells David about her sickly childhood to explain why the press treats her with kid gloves (no one wanted to be the one to "break her"). Naturally, this occurs right before their public lovemaking session caught on camera.

And, as written, Dylan Thomas' character (the king's slimy brother-in-law) offers Michelle money from the pharmaceutical company to help pay for her health reform act... only to later take it back when Silas pisses him off with his actions on the war. Because of this, we learn, the 6-year-old for whom Michelle was trying to get a heart transplant dies at the end of the episode. I don't think I saw either of those things in the aired pilot.

Besides that, the script is largely verbatim.

Wait, let me say that again:

The 63-page pilot that I read and the two hour premiere that I watched are almost exactly the same script. Even the action.

How is that possible?!

Sure, the premiere "breathed," as they say, but that much? I didn't think so. In fact -- while I know others felt differently -- I thought it moved at a nice pace for a sweeping story such as this, especially considering the fact that we're being shown an entirely new and often complicated world.

Did anyone else notice more changes that I didn't catch? Were there just a metric ton of commercials I fast forwarded past? I'm curious to watch the premiere again and see just what's taking up all that extra time.

And the reverse: how do other 60-ish page TV shows stuff everything into an hour?


Republibot 3.0 said...

No, there weren't a ton of commercials. THey seemed about the normal ammount to me - about 17 minutes per hour of the show. That gives us about 86 minutes total, which Assuming the old saw of "A minute to the page," so we've got about 23 minutes to fill. The speech/anointing scene easily took up about ten minutes of that, which leaves 13 pages or so that could easily be wormed in here and there.

In fact, thinking about it, I'd assume they probably shot most of the differences you noted, and cut them for running time, or consistency. I thought the David/Michelle romance went way the heck too fast, for instance, and I can see how they might decide to cut the sex just to let that simmer a little bit for different episodes.

Also, Silas' reaction to David making out with his daughter was out of all proportion to the nature of the offence, which also makes me think they might have shot something and then decided to chop it.

It's interesting, though. Thank you for posting this! I'd been wondering about the differences between the script and the show, and thus far you seem to be the only one with any hard info on it. Good job!

Josh said...

Glad you enjoyed the post. Your numbers (educated guesswork though they may be) put things in a little more perspective. Although I'd say it's probably closer to maybe 15 minutes of "fill time" because of those small cuts they made.

Very interesting...

Anonymous said...

The show was boring as hell, starting out with a flat, trite speech that didn't mean or say anything. Can anyone tell me what the appeal is for those enjoyed? Merely the fact that the fantasy/Biblical setting is unconventional for network television?