“It was the time of the Preacher…” Truer words may never have been included at the top of a show. The television landscape is primed and ready for Preacher in a way that may never have been possible before. Following along the path established by Breaking Bad, Fargo, and The Walking Dead before it, Preacher explores a distinct narrative landscape unlike any other. This isn’t just because of the iconic subject matter – Preacher is based on the highly regarded, 70-issue Vertigo comics series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon – but also because of the creative energy of developers Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Sam Catlin and the perfect casting of Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, Ruth Negga as Tulip, and Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy. The property spent years in development hell as a variety of writers and directors made doomed attempts to adapt the comic into a feature film – but this is a work that is simply too big to condense into a 90 minute feature without losing all of the nuance. And Preacher is a work that lives and dies on its nuance. The comic was extremely controversial upon its original run (I remember it well, having read the series from its first issue to its fateful finale), relying as it did on vulgar humor and blasphemy, accented with extreme violence and gore. In fact, it’s still controversial to modern reviewers looking back. Preacher was a comic that refused to soften any blow or recognize any standard of good taste, which was kind of what made it great. Which is why the creative team of Rogan and Goldberg may be the perfect people to adapt it into a television series. And while a channel without any censorship issues might have felt like the obvious place to find it a home, AMC’s dedication to high-quality, cutting edge storytelling makes the lack of overtly creative swearing something that can be lived with (although Ennis is a wizard with the obscenities). And with Ennis onboard as a story advisor, Rogan and Goldberg have taken quite a few liberties with the initial set-up in order to streamline viewers’ entry into the series, really establish our main characters against the backdrop of supernatural horror, and dig into a first-season storyline that captures some of the more disturbing elements (and characters) of the comic. But more on that over the next ten weeks. For this first installment, Rogan and Goldberg took the directorial reins, working from a script by Sam Catlin (with all three contributing to the screen story) and from the opening moments it is obvious that Preacher is going to be something special. To the sound of alarms in deep space, we witness — something — burst into reality and careen through the solar system in what can only be described as the style of a vintage educational film, complete with wear and tear on the film stock, until it slams into Earth. And if you weren’t sure where it was heading, the globe says Africa in big block letters. This is really the first change to the story, as what readers know as Genesis tries out potential meat-suits to explosive effect. Even Tom Cruise is not a strong enough vessel to contain the power of Genesis. The next changes are pretty huge and are apparently somewhat of a sticking point for some reviewers. Each of our main characters have significant differences from their comics counterparts, but each captures something fundamental about the original incarnations. And I’ll be damned if I’m not calling each one of the actors breakout stars for these performances. This version of Jesse is more humble and focused on his own shortcomings as the series begins. He hasn’t quite lost his faith in his congregation yet and by episode’s end has vowed to be a better man, a better preacher, and to save their souls. I have a feeling that by the end of the season, we’ll be seeing the more driven Jesse that readers are more familiar with. Tulip, in this incarnation, begins the series as extremely competent in thievery, makeshift munitions manufacturing, and murder. The past she shares with Jesse is still as star-crossed lovers but also involves high stakes heist jobs. She tracks Jesse down to bring him in on her newest caper, which, after a quick glance at the map she kills two men to protect, seems to involve Grail Industries – which should hold a special significance to readers of the comics. The most true to the original character right out of the gate is Cassidy, although even he’s got another level of weirdness going on in his story. He’s being hunted by an organization determined to destroy him for the blasphemy he is. Oh yeah, if you didn’t know, he’s a vampire. He also has a mysterious benefactor who, along with those hunting him, serve as nice ways to immediately expand the world of Preacher in ways that, if my hunches are correct, will tie-in to some of the comics’ more memorable elements. The only character-based complaint I have about the pilot episode is that I really wish Eugene (Ian Colletti) was more appropriately hideous. But at least I can already hear Cassidy saying “He’s got a face like an arse!” thanks to how thoroughly Gilgun embodies the vampire. It’s an interesting creative choice to establish so many characters from the comic in the same town (and from what I’ve heard, this season stays pretty much entirely in Annville, Texas), that I’m sure is meant to help keep the budget under control and allow for idiosyncratic bursts of special effects throughout. I think we’ve definitely got enough weirdness and potential excitement with this cast and this setting to not get boring, so long as we don’t take too long to get the Saint of Killers involved in the story. See larger image Preacher Book One Merging with a bizarre spiritual force called Genesis, Texan Preacher Jesse Custer becomes completely disillusioned with the beliefs that he had dedicated his entire life to. Now possessing the power of “the word,” an ability to make people do whatever he utters, Custer begins a violent and riotous journey across the country. Joined by his gun-toting girlfriend Tulip and the hard drinking Irish vampire Cassidy, the Preacher loses faith in both man and God as he witnesses dark atrocities and improbable calamities during his exploration of America. New From: $10.49 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.