Review: Still The King 1×1-1×2 (US: CMT)

Not as awful as you might have thought

In the US: Sundays, 9/8c, CMT
In the UK: Not yet acquired

We’ve been talking quite a bit about remakes and shows ‘inspired’ by others in the past couple of weeks, but I hadn’t realised until now just how quick the remake cycle has become. Take Still The King, which is ‘based on a treatment by’ and stars Billy Ray Cyrus (CMT – that’s Country Music Television. All clear now, isn’t it?). It sees Cyrus playing a former one-hit-wonder turned Elvis impersonator who winds up in jail in Tennessee after crashing into a church sign while drink-driving. He’s released, but on condition that he remain in the state for a year, that he do community service at the church he wrecked and that he start paying child support. Child support? Oh yes, he has a 15-year-old daughter (Madison Iseman) he never knew about as his manager hasn’t been passing on the letters from Iseman’s mother (Chasing Amy‘s Joey Lauren Adams).

Sounds a bit familiar? Like last July’s Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll

Wait. There’s more. Because when Cyrus turns up at the church, he’s mistaken for the new pastor who’s supposed to be arriving in town soon. Needing a job, Cyrus assumes the pastor’s identity and uses his performance skills to liven things up during services.

Yep, it’s also last July’s Impastor

So there you have it – it now takes almost exactly a year on US television for an off-cycle, new show to get copycats on the airwaves.

That aside, is Still The King any good? After all, CMT isn’t exactly known for scripted anything, let alone comedy, and Cyrus isn’t the world’s best or most experienced of actors.

Surprisingly, it was actually quite likable and even innovative. The first episode isn’t that great, but does feature a dream sequence that includes both Elvis Presley and a black Jesus Christ, perhaps the first sign the show isn’t going to be quite what you expect. The second episode is a slightly better affair, dealing with the question of the real pastor Cyrus is impersonating with a surprising solution. There are some touching moments as Cyrus realises what he’s been missing out on with both Adams and Iseman. And Cyrus’s character is surprisingly charming, too.

It’s not yucks-a-minute stuff. There’s a slight whiff of homophobia whenever the show features Adams’ deadbeat boyfriend (Jon Sewell), although he does provide some of the most laughs as he tries unsuccessfully to be the alpha male of the house. There’s also not much depth to any of it.

All the same, given how bad and derivative it could have been, Still The King is a surprisingly decent, genteel, warm-hearted dramedy that shows promise, has all manner of famous guest stars lined up and might be worth your checking out.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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