I have not read all 75 issues of Preacher. I own and enjoyed the first volume, but as I read it I felt as if I was late to the party. In my personal opinion the comic is a bit dated. In the same way that Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns have had their corpses picked so much that you’ve seen their influences throughout comics, so too has the ultraviolence of Preacher. Hell, I can point out five comics just at Marvel in which writer Garth Ennis picked his own corpse like Arseface and his Marvel brother Fuckface. My point being that I’m not an authority on Preacher nor am I really shocked by it. I get that for some it was their window into “comics can do that?”, but that wasn’t the case for me. That brings us to 2016. We’ve read the casting, we’ve see who’s producing and we’ve even gotten AMC aka “The Walking Dead channel”, all lined up for a Preacher TV show. But how? How can you have the ultraviolence and the politically incorrectness of the comic on TV? Surely it must be rated X?!? To answer that question… you do it exactly the way they’ve done it here.
Step one is to get producers that are passionate about it. Doesn’t matter if they read comics or not, its Hollywood and even Robert Kirkman doesn’t give a fuck about his comics when he adapts them for TV. The next step is to get hot talent. Get that guy that stunk up Misfits for two seasons because he looks and sounds the part and get those two Marvel TV actors that everyone loves right now. The next step is the network. You need a network that’s desperate for some kind of hit after losing all their top shows and can’t seem to recreate the magic of their first comic book TV show’s success. Once you’ve got AMC it pretty much means you’re golden to do whatever.
So what do you do?
Do you stay close to the comic or do you Walking Dead this thing and use the frame-work and create a new version? Well… you’re on AMC so the answer should be pretty obvious. If you’ve read all 75 issues of the comic series then do not and I repeat, do not compare this show to the comic book. In fact, we as comic fans should never do that. They’re different mediums and we’ve seen both ends of the adaptation spectrum. On one side you have Sin City, the most faithful adaptation ever and then on the other side, oh I don’t know pick anything from Fox or Sony. The point is, they’re never going to be like the comics because that would defeat the purpose of the comics.
Now after four paragraphs you’re probably wondering what happened on the episode? Not what is it about because you’re a comic fan or at the very least saw a shit ton of promotion for this show and already know about the characters and world.
Well it’s about Jesse coming back to his home town to make good on his promise to his father who was a Preacher as well and was shot in the head. This unfolds through a series of annoying flashbacks, each longer than the last, but still the same flashback. Tulip is on the run for stealing a map for the biggest score ever and she’s a woman scorn so she’s in town to bring Jesse back into the mix of her life. Cassidy is being hunted and gets ambushed on an airplane in which he’s working as a host. And the voice of God is searching for a host and making Preachers of all different faiths explode including Tom Cruise.
The pacing for this first episode can best be described as a teenage boy blind folded searching for his first pair of boobies to grope only to feel a man’s chest because he’s being pranked by older teenagers and now his raging boner pitching a tent in his underwear (he’s in only his underwear by the way) is circulating social media along with him grabbing man-boobs with a smile... and then a frown. Basically it’s groping around in the dark and not finding what it’s wants to, but still really excited that it might get there. Or just bad. The pacing is bad.
It takes 36 minutes to have our main character introduced to us and it’s a cheap pop for the comic readers. It was written and executed as if it were going to be played to a large crowd at some point, say South by Southwest, so that one idiot could cheer-shit their pants and get the rest of the people watching hyped. If any other TV show waited until it was half over to tell you whose who, you would probably give up on the show. By waiting that long you give the audience a chance to give the character a name and you know what I called him? Even knowing the character’s name, I called him Howard Stark. Because you refused to tell me his name outside of calling him Preacher. Which is the name of the show.
The acting is good. That’s the sad part about the pacing is that these actors are doing a hell of a job, but you keep letting their performance down with all the breaks and the “here’s how we all meet” origin story. Joseph Gilgun is a bit hard to understand at times, just as he was on Misfits, but after a few episodes your ears will be trained and it won’t matter. Ruth Negga is hands down the best actor on the show, even if her accent seems unnecessary. Dominic Cooper is right behind her, both with acting and the accent. He’s good at it, but he loses the deepness in his voice that makes it so distinct. Everything he says is light and whispery and it might be intentional, but let's hope they're not being that lazy and not wanting to put a filter on him when he "god talks."
The action is the best part of the show. Which is good and bad. I wanted to be into the story more, but I wasn’t. Everything in-between the action seemed like a waste of time. Like go ahead and look at your phone and just look up at the action. Even though it was the best part, the choreography and the slow motion was not the best. There’s a really bad fight between townies and some “politically correct” mascot people, which is absolutely bad-looking. Like student film, first time with a camera bad-looking.
The show itself isn’t bad, but it’s not good. It doesn’t play to the strengths of the TV medium and I don’t know if that’s a director thing, producer thing or an AMC thing, but it’s something. It shows inexperience on many levels and perhaps too much trust from AMC. It’s as if they just said, hey you’ve made films and shit all your careers, clearly you understand pacing and how to hold a viewer’s attention for an hour with commercial breaks… go for it. And then they realized they didn’t know how to do that. It’s a pilot though so really the next three will show a true vision of what to expect from the show.
There’s still a couple of questions up in the air though. If you’re a fan of the comic and haven’t watched it should you? If you’re a fan of comics in general should you watch it? And lastly, if you’re just a fan of good TV drama should you watch it? No, no and maybe.
Preacher has a long road to go before it’s pulling in fans like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. It’s already got one mark against it due to the subject matter which is going to chop some viewers no matter what you think, but there’s nothing awe-inspiring about this adaptation. It’s perhaps a little too safe and catered to a TV audience in all the wrong places. But hey… you probably already watched it so who cares?
[su_box title="Score: 3/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]
Preacher E.01 Airs Sundays on AMC