Vampires, Bazookas and explosive ghosts – Preacher deviates from the original comics, but keeps it’s heart and spirit present.
If you knew anything about Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s original cult classic Preacher graphic novel, you were probably surprised to hear that it was being adapted into a television series by AMC (The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad); and even more surprised to find out that Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen (yes that Seth Rogen) were the directors who were bringing it to Preacher to life onto our screens. But even with some of Seth Rogen’s enthusiasm to help grease the wheels, how does one adapt a property like Preacher in a show? A property which’s main theme is to pretty much spit in the face of religion as a whole?A property that has had many failed adaptation attempts before, and is now stuck in a weird “we don’t know what to do with this fucking thing anymore” kind of limbo (I mean they cast James Marsden as the lead, so they really didn’t know what they were doing). The suites at AMC seems to think they have the answer to how best to handle the Preacher license, and although the premier was not perfect, I would be hard-pressed to disagree with them. So without further delay, let us take a look at the premier of Preacher.
A revamped Preacher
Dominic Cooper plays the protagonist Jesse Custer, a Preacher who quite frankly really bad at his job. Custer has returned to his fictional hometown of Anville in Texas for unknown reasons. Though his father’s death (who was also a preacher) and atonement for Custer’s own dark past, might have someone to do with it. Hardcore fans of the original might of already notices something different with the representation of Jesse Custer (and Anville), it’s not bad by any means but it does highlight how the tv adaptation is actually more of a looser adaptation of the original.
So yes things are different or are at least given a more contemporary spin. Although before we are even introduced to Custer, Goldberg and Rogen want to make it clear to us that the Supernatural will remain as crazy as ever; the premier quite literally opens with a ghostly baby entity (soon to be named as Genesis), travelling through space and landing in Africa. It then proceeds to possess a preacher mid-sermon, right before making an explosive (and very bloody) exit from the Preachers body. It’s a pretty wacky way to open up a show, heck the baby ghost in space scene, is even presented to look like a shitty B movie. So Preacher is not afraid to go out there and be a little different, on the other hand, I feel like the show struggles to find a balance between its serious and dark humour tones.
Preacher struggles to sit comfortably within its own genre(s)
There are two moments in the premier where I feel like the show the Preacher premier lost track of itself and started to become cartoonish. The first scene is the introduction to the oddly friendly Irish Vampire Cassidy, played by Joseph Gilgun (Misfits), in this scene the show abruptly cuts to a private plane where we find Cassidy in his job as a steward for some business types. Things quickly go awry and we find out that the business types are actually vampire hunters, who have an arsenal of not so subtly hidden medieval weapons on board. The whole thing looks as ridiculous as it sounds (and I suppose it is supposed to) and although I enjoyed the action, the real issue is how serious I am supposed to take the scene; for example, the majority of the episode focuses and Jesse’s character and his very serious issue of his level of faith and commitment to be a preacher. When this is contrasted to the mile high club Vampire ed. I start to lose track of where I should be mentally.
Another similar scene is the introduction to the third main supporting character and main heroine Tulip, whose badassery is played by Ruth Negga (also Misfits). Again the action is fantastic as Tulip kills a group of assailants, while in an out of control speeding car (that is also making its own corn maze). After exiting the car Tulip recruits two neighbouring children to help her craft a makeshift Bazooka out of moonshine, shrapnel, and cans. This bazooka is then used to take down a helicopter off-screen. Now neither of those scenes are directly the problem, each of the action scenes, are in fact quite brilliant in their own right. However Preacher does not juxtapose these scenes very well with its much more serious tones (yes there some creative cuts but still).
Regardless its charm will win you over
It’s still early days off course and preacher is definitely on good footing to become something great. We get to spend a healthy amount of time in the hour-long premiere, getting to know the supporting characters that populate Anville: characters like the unfortunately disfigured Sheriffs son Eugene played by Ian Colletti (and known as areseface in the comics), misogynistic housewife Betsy Schenck (Jamie Anne Allman) and the comically overbearing Ned Flanders type Ted Reyerson (Brian Huskey). Are fun and interesting and make me actually want to learn more about their secrets, that Preacher oh so precariously dangles in front of us like a carrot on a stick via plot exposition.
The Supernatural elements are sparse but rewarding
I can totally understand if those who are die heard fans of the Supernatural genre, were left wanting by the end of the pilot. The Supernatural aspects of the show are few and far between and revolve around a spirit that appears in different religious building all across the world and imploding their religious leaders (including a quick gag where baby Genesis murders the head of Scientology and it’s you guess it, it’s Tom Cruise). Sure Cassidy is a vampire but athletically he’s your average Joe and he’s not exactly the type of Vampire who turns into a bat and flies away. So when Jesse finally meets baby’ Casper the exploding ghost’, it’s already been 50 mins into and hour-long premier. We get to see a little bit of the power it channels through Jesse, which if you’ve seen Jessica Jones, it’s very similar to Killgrave’s mind control powers.
Still yet I am very much looking forward to the 2nd episode which starts on the 6th June via Amazon prime video; and to those who were left a bit miffed in regards to lack of spooky shenanigans, Preacher looks set from here to completely immerse itself into the Supernatural, especially with the two angels in pursuit of baby genesis and now Jesse by proxy. So to end on that note, Preacher is a perfect example of how creative you can make your show when you’re not bound by the restraints of television and instead embraces the freedom of an online platform; and although it might have gone a little too far in some places, Preacher will undoubtedly find it’s voice (just pray it doesn’t tell you to do bad things with it).
I give it 4 dead Cruises out of 5