Editorials

ABC’s “Of Kings & Prophets” flops; can any network create a cable-like drama?

OF KINGS AND PROPHETS – "Of Kings and Prophets" stars Ray Winstone as King Saul, Haaz Sleiman as Jonathan, Maisie Richardson-Sellers as Michal, Oliver Rix as David, Simone Kessell as Ahinoam, James Floyd as Ish-Boseth, Mohammad Bakri as Samuel and Tomer Kapon as Joab. (ABC/Bob D'Amico) MAISIE RICHARDSON-SELLERS, OLIVER RIX, RAY WINSTONE, SIMONE KESSELL

With ABC’s newest Drama Of Kings & Prophets, the network tried another series to try and capitalize in on the Game of Thrones craze, and failed again. The series debuted to a 0.8 in the 18-49 demographic, lower than the awful 0.9 Wicked City debuted to earlier this year. Networks for the past few years have tried to create a cable-like hit in the vein of Game of Thrones, American Horror Story or Breaking Bad, with 99% of them failing.

Networks are known for their repetitive and tedious procedurals (Law & Order: SVU, Hawaii Five-0, Castle) and medical shows (Grey’s Anatomy, Code Black, Chicago Med) and reality television (American Idol, The Voice, So You Think You Can Dance?) and haven’t been able to create a successful series that creates and storytelling arc. The only series to really be able to match something on cable is ABC’s American Crime that has received widespread acclaim over the past two seasons.

The big question is with as much censoring as network TV has, can any broadcast channel ever hope of creating something as good as the cable networks?

It seemed like ABC took a gamble with Of Kings & Prophets, with the advertisements leading up to the series disclaiming “due to adult content and subject matter, viewer discretion is advised.” If a network takes a swing and misses, at least they took the chance. However, Of Kings & Prophets was a very hard to follow pilot, with very little in the way of good storytelling or fun action sequences that have made shows like Game of Thrones popular.

NBC has tried to create hybrid shows, that take the overall arc-style of a continuing storyline, mixed with the procedural elements most fans like. Shows like The Blacklist and Blindspot have been hits for the network, with each series bringing some acclaim.

CBS, meanwhile, seems to stick to what has worked over the years. From another NCIS and CSI series launched a year ago to a new Criminal Minds offshoot being launched soon, the series has not deviated from their practice in years.

The thing that seems to be holding the networks back the most is ratings. While American Crime has been nominated for Emmy Awards and Golden Globes awards ratings have been mediocre at best. American Crime hovers around the 0.8-1.0 mark, decent numbers for a cable series, but horrid for a broadcast network where shows like the procedural NCIS will hit above a 2.5.

Another thing that networks need to do if they take a chance with a cable-like show is to let it grow and find an audience. Most new series these days get canceled within three episodes if the ratings aren’t good. Shows like Breaking Bad on AMC were given seasons to build an audience, and by the third season, became a cult sensation.

Do you think the broadcast networks can create a cable-like series? What would it take for you to watch one? Sound off!

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