May 1, 2017

[TV] Preacher: Season 1 Review

Comic book adaptations are a mixed bag on both television and movies with some missing the mark and others managing to create something amazing. It's hard to tell how good or bad things are at the start but it all sort of resolves itself soon enough.

But things have gotten better in recent years as pay-TV cable networks have taken up the mantle of creating such genre shows. These productions haven't always done well on regular network television. So yay for that.

Preacher was a comic that I had seen being advertised but not one that I had ever tried to read for one reason or another. So  I had no immediate reaction to the news that it was being adapted into a television series by AMC, the same folks who brought The Walking Dead to the small screen.

Long story short: watching this series makes me want to try reading the original comics just to see what was from the comic and what was just added in for the TV series.

Synopsis: Preacher is an American TV series created by Sam Caitlin, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen for AMC. The series was adapted from the Preacher comic book series created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon.

At the center of the show is Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), our titular preacher. He's a man of faith who is losing is faith and wonders why he's still handling his church in a small town in Texas. Around the same time, an Irish vampire named Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) literally lands nearby and gets into an altercation with one of the residents which eventually leads him to Jesse. Things climax when Jesse asks for a sign from God about what he should do next and he then "receives" some sort of entity. After 3 days he decides to stay and he now seems to have a renewed sense of vigor to push through with things.

Soon Jesse finds that he can now command people to do things against their will. Two men, DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef) and Fiore (Tom Brooke) eventually approach Jesse and offer to extract the entity that now calls his body home and seems to have given him his new abilities. Then there's Tulip (Ruth Negga), Jesse's ex, who repeatedly asks him about "a job", thus alluding to a more colorful period in his past. How the small town reacts to Jesse's new religious fervor and all these other elements in play all come together to tell a pretty weird story.

What I Liked: The show is filled with a lot of great characters that all get their time to shine in the spotlight as the show moves forward. It doesn't quite rush to get to the end but it doesn't feel like the larger meta-plot stops every time they need to push character development. They kept the momentum and had things moving at a pretty steady click, and I really appreciated that.

I was only half-into Gigun during his Misfits run but he was killer as Cassidy. I couldn't get enough of him and I kept wishing to see more in each and every episode. Of similar strength was Ruth Negga, who really brought a lot of strength to the show. A lot the show relied on her kicking the story in the nuts quite frankly and I loved every bit of it.

And the whole world of Preacher is so crazy and bananas and I love all the effort that went into bringing it to life.

What Could Have Been Better: Pacing was steady and didn't feel disjoint but it doesn't mean there were times like you're not entirely sure why they went to this story point or why it got that much attention. It didn't derail the story as we've seen in other shows but it certainly felt like not all the writing decisions made sense. And I don't know if that something to hold the original comic accountable for or it was just badly presented on screen.

And I was kind of disappointed with how Dominic Cooper was as Jesse Custer, quite frankly. There was just something lacking in his performance that didn't quite bring things home for me, especially when in scenes with such strong performances by the rest of the team. At least he didn't feel at all like his Anthony Stark character from the first Captain America movie and such, but it didn't quite feel right for this show either. Maybe things will get better in the second season.

TL;DR: Preacher is a great edgy show and one that feels like one of the better comic book shows out there. The story as a whole is pretty complex but it can really pull you in once it gets going, provided you keep notes from time to time. Thus the first season gets 4 characters coming back to life out of a possible 5.

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