Thursday, April 2, 2009

Around Town: Read the book or see TV show?

We live in the digital age. Some of you read these words online at Or you might have your TV tuned to CNN. Or your radio tuned to XM satellite. Or your cellphone is about to ring. Meanwhile, Twitter, Facebook, Earthlink or Gmail collect your messages. You’ll read them later, when you are ready.

I am a child of the digital age. That’s why, on a recent Sunday night, Len and I caught a cool new show on NBC.

The show is called “Kings.”

We knew nothing about this show. We just happened upon it.

“Kings” is set in a dark, alternative version of modern times. Think of the show “Heroes.” Think of the show “Lost.” Or “Battlestar Gallactica.” The setting resembles contemporary life. The characters are fascinating. The actors are a cut above the usual TV fare. advertisement

What is this show, we asked ourselves.

As we watched, the plot began to sound familiar. There was a soldier named David Shepherd. He was stationed at the front during a war. As we watched, he destroyed a giant armored tank named Goliath.

During a commercial, I grabbled my laptop. I googled the show.

I learned that “Kings” is based on a book. Some call it the Book of Samuel I, and others call the Book of Kings I. It is the story of David and Goliath, King Saul and the Prophet Samuel.

The show was written by one of the writer/producers of “Heroes” — Michael Green, the American-born son of an Israeli. Green is a graduate of Stanford University, where he majored in biology and religious studies.

As with other NBC shows, the episodes are available online (for free) at the NBC website at

My point is this. I had never sat down to read the books of Samuel I and II or Kings I and II. It’s a gap in my education, a gap that I never previously felt the need to bridge. Unless you learn this stuff in childhood, how do you connect with it? I know more about Shakespeare, John Adams, and the California missions than I do about the life of Saul’s daughter Michel, or the siege of Jabesh-Gilead.

Watching this show, suddenly, these two books, books I had never studied, seemed accessible. During the next commercial, I went back online and looked up Michel’s story on Wikipedia. I wanted to know what happened to her.

“Kings” is an event-scene ready to happen. The website for the show mimics the “Heroes” phenomenon, with interactive games, blogs, a “newspaper” and updates.

Did you know there are 18 million Heroes fans, who post fan fiction, viral videos, dress up and blog about the show? It’s the technology. Think: Obama campaign meets “Star Trek.”

Time will tell if “Kings” generates the same interest, but in the meantime, do I read the book or watch the TV show?

How does the story end?


ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. E-mail her at

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