Saturday, July 21, 2007

"The Kingdom": Fantasy or Historical Fiction?

CBS won a bidding war for a TV series called "The Kingdom," still very early in development. In reading through various articles, it appears that it is still little more than a concept. In that oh-so-Hollywood way, it is being described in terms of other shows, such as a "medieval 'Entourage'" and "a sort of 'Princess Bride' meets 'Entourage.'" Jeff over at Quid Plura? is less than enthusiastic about the "Entourage" comparison, and Matthew over at Modern Medieval isn't getting his hopes up, but as I've never seen "Entourage," I can blithely go about my merry way. Two names have been connected with the project so far: Chad Hodge and Barry Sonnenfeld. I've never seen anything Hodge has been connected with, and Sonnenfeld's is a mixed bag, so I'm willing to hold out a little hope.

One interesting thing about the descriptions is that it is variously described as a "a Middle Ages drama set in Europe's world of castles, kings and typhoid fever" and a "fantasy drama." Now, the new king is named "King Lucas" -- and while I'm not a historian, I sure can't remember any "King Lucas" references in the literature. It seems, then, that the story will not be fiction based on historical events, but that the history itself will be fictionalized -- fine by me. When they describe it as "set in Europe" and the "Middle Ages," though, it implies that the setting will be historical even if the characters are not. When, on the other hand, they describe it as a "fantasy drama," and compare it to "The Princess Bride," it suggests that the setting itself will be fictionalized.

So, will the setting have magic and giants and dragons, or will it have Cistercians and trade guilds and trebuchets? From how early this is in the development phase, I'm not sure even the creators know yet.


  1. Up late from getting your kids Harry Potter eh?

  2. My kids don't like Harry Potter. My daughter's assessment of the first book (the only one she's read), was "eh."

    I spoke at a Potter-themed convention a couple of years back, and so had to read all the books in preparation for that (as it turned out, though, I didn't get a single Potter question, even though most of the people attending my talk were in costume). My own assessment of the first book was "mediocre Roald Dahl wannabe," from which point the quality declined.

    I have trouble working up a good loathing for mediocrity, so I can't say I hate Harry Potter. Around my house, no one likes him and no one hates him, so he's a non-issue.

  3. My wife pegged HP #1 as "typical English school story" (of the sort that's been written for about a century and a half). I wasn't thrilled by #1 and read no more -- but the movies have been very good.

    I expect the Kingdom will be Ladyhawke, only w/o Michelle Pfeiffer and Rutger Hauer. That was a medieval story too, doncha know?

  4. Cistercians and dragons, no problem. A Cistercian dragon on the other hand. How do you enforce a vow of poverty when the aspirant is a 5 ton top level predator?

  5. Found your blog by searching Google. I'm from Birmingham, AL, so it's nice to find another blogger with medieval interest here in the state. I've been a student of medieval history for the last five years, so this will be an intriguing series to follow. Reminds me a little of what I wanted to do with my first novel: a fictionalized world based on actual late 12th, early 13th century medieval western europe. A historical fantasy of sorts, if you will. Thanks for posting this info. I'll add a subscription to your blog in my Google Reader.