ABC's biblical drama has a vengeful, lusty David

ABC’s upcoming biblical epic drama series Of Kings and Prophets seems to want to be compared to HBO’s Game of Thrones. The trailer includes a twist on a familiar Thrones line (“All old kings must die”), and the producers referenced Thrones repeatedly when talking to reporters at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Pasadena on Saturday.

What’s the period epic like? “It’s suspenseful. It’s extraordinarily violent. It’s sexual. And it’s a power struggle between two men. We don’t view this as a revisionist history nor do we view it as a literal translation. We’ve sought to make the show modern…This is a non-dragon version of Game of Thrones,” says executive producer Chris Brancato.

How big is the crew? “We have as many as on Game of Thrones…”

Why was the pilot reworked? “Game of Thrones tossed out its original pilot and started again, and we guess for much the same reason…”

So perhaps the GoT inspiration is why viewers are getting a sexy, lusty and flawed King David (Olly Rix).

“When you’re talking about David, you’re talking about a man who is revered by almost half the population of this planet,” said executive producer Reza Aslan. “He is the model of kingship. He’s not Israel’s first king, but…He’s the world’s first rock star. This is a man whose songs that he wrote 3000 years ago, we are still singing today. He’s called ‘messiah’ in the Bible. His blood courses through the veins of Jesus Christ. And yet — and I think this is what makes him so fascinating — he’s deeply flawed. He’s vain. He’s vengeful. He’s lustful. He kills his friends and betrays his wives, and he had a lot of wives. But he also loves God and God loves him. In fact he’s the only character in the entire Bible that God gives a nickname to. God calls him ‘The Beloved.’ And I think it’s precisely that complexity of his character that will draw audiences to him, whether it’s a faith-based audience or not.”

Critics questioned whether a sexual scene in the pilot sent to reporters would even make it past broadcast censors. But afterward, ABC’s entertainment chief enthused about the show, “They’re really pushing the limits. We have high hopes.”

Of Kings and Prophets premieres March 8, on ABC.