Are you ready to rumble?
There’s a lot to love about Kingdom. Created by Byron Balasco, the show revels in its television format with its take on our imperfect characters in their jungle-rules ecosystem. Alvey Kelina (Frank Grillo) and his girlfriend Lisa Prince (Kiele Sanchez) looks after their gym business while Alvey looks after their sons who wants to follow his father in becoming a renowned heavy weight professional fighter. Nick Jonas (yes from Jonas Brothers) plays the golden son: Nate Kulina who is gaining a decent profile as a fighter. The not so golden son is Jay Kulina (Jonathen Tucker) who has violent tendencies, a complicated history but well meaning. Then there’s the convict: Ryan Wheeler (Matt Lauria) who has been released on parole, a person who has been sentenced for violent assault yet with a history of success in the fighting ring gets the attention of Alvey’s tutelage. Also, Lisa used to be Ryan’s fiancé.
Kingdom is at home for television. The camera work is gentle and not bombastic allowing the actors to shine in their natural, humble performances of close ups. The writing thrives on the character’s grittiness and personal values which tries very little to be anything it isn’t, making for a grounded and unpretentious show to get enthralled in. The humble writing displays characters with deep personal flaws while their endearing and feisty humour gives the audience a fine ‘yin-and-yang’ balance.
The directing is confident and knows what it needs to be in order to make for punctual pace in the story line. Let it be known that Kingdom casually and commonly presents nudity, sex, violence, coarse language and blood for your grandparents to enjoy with you. Yet most of the time, it integrates cozily into the rough, no-BS tale that the show delivers.
A wonderful bunch of characters with some neat twists dazzle subtlety throughout the episodes. Grillo comfortably performs his Alvey with effortless chemistry and maturity towards his fellow sons and students along with some tough love and charisma. Although for a father, he felt a little too young to be cast in such a mature role. But apart from the age presentation, It’s hard to imagine the papa bear in better hands.
Another formidable character is Lisa. A refreshing female heroine that isn’t no damsel in distress cliché that even the mightiest of lady champs seem to fall under time and time again on screen. She possesses a persona that is responsible, strict and morally headstrong who watches over the boys and regularly keeps them in check. This makes for dramatically satisfying and realistic viewing to see a strong female character that can take care of herself and others as equally, and if not more so than Alvey.
Realism is significant in the show, as it does not shy away from the themes of violence and its consequences that are explored. Ryan Wheeler and Jay Kulina both possess some imperfectly dark pasts yet Kingdom doesn’t get needy about including it as much of a side plot, Thus it gets innovatively patient in the character development giving us ample fun times to knowing our characters without constant obligatory flashbacks of their dark and checkered pasts. Despite possessing a very lean build with a tattoo proclaiming “DESTROYER” on his chest, Ryan has a very gentle good-natured heart displaying honour and compassion to those around him as he tries to find redemption. Yet when he falls off the wagon occasionally, Lauria’s performance made sure there was range to be had.
Jay’s a cowboy who gets can get irresponsible and wild but has an endearing soul to match. His violent tempers and a tendency for silliness that ends badly only complements the other half of goodness that this character holds for his family. And the charm that Jonathen Tucker puts on his character is infectious.
Nate, unfortunately acts as the weakest link as far as characterization goes especially when compared to all those around him. His performance is fine for the goodie-goodie innocent character that he portrays but you always wonder if there’s more to him than that and the circumstances around him. Jonas does a fine performance for him but what he goes through for most of the season is fairly wooden and standard affair for character development.
In the end, Kingdom is about loyalty. Loyalty and the personal imperfections of many characters binding together for some heartwarming and refreshingly unique drama. It certainly has solid foundations and punch which isn’t afraid to go rough around the edges to give you a good storyline. Therefore, Kingdom, with its unique style and captivatingly original characters goes to show, television is once again a great home for engaging and creative drama.
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Kingdom is now available on Digital and DVD.