Well, it’s finally here. Preacher has been in the works, for good or for evil, for a while now and tonight we had the opportunity, courtesy of AMC, to see the first episode. I was, like many others, pretty damned skeptical about this one. I loved the Preacher books back when I read them (many years ago) and I didn’t want to see them turn Garth Ennis’s work into a piece of shit only fit to flushed down the toiler and forgotten about. After sitting through the hour-long ‘Pilot‘, however, I feel I may be soon changing my tune. Preacher turned out to be highly entertaining, despite all the obvious changes to the storyline. Scroll on for a short recap and review.
* Warning! Contains SPOILERS and language inappropriate for most humans. *
The show starts with a WTF beginning. Something is cruising through outer space and lands in Africa. There, it possesses the body of a holy man during his mass. Unfortunately, the man doesn’t quite have what it takes and ends up blowing the fuck up. Bad news for him.
Then we’re on to our main protagonist – Jesse Custer. He’s a preacher in Fuckhole, Texas, a place that looks a lot like a breeding resort for those who should have been cast out of the gene pool a long time ago. He’s trying to do decent things there, but not a lot of people give a shit. He’s going through his normal routine, listening to people whine about their mothers and talk about the other shit they deal with, when an old friend returns to throw a wrench into the works. Her name is Tulip and she’s a bad-ass, crazy bitch that can kick your teeth in and make homemade bazookas like fucking MacGyver.
But Jesse and Tulip aren’t the only stars of this story. Enter an Irishman by the name of Cassidy. He’s cruising in a plane, taking more drugs than a man has a right to and partying away with some fancy lads. But things aren’t what they seem. They’re out to end him. The reason? Well, old Cassidy happens to be a vampire and these guys are holy rollers with a bone to pick. Too bad for them, he’s used to this shit. And he can survive a jump from a plane without a parachute.
We also have Arseface. He’s a kid who tried to blow his own brains out with a shotgun but failed. So his face is messed up. In fact, it kind of looks like an asshole at this point. Hence the name. But he’s a decent kid and Jesse tries to help him keep his faith in God despite the shit he’s been through.
And then there’s Tulip. She wants Jesse to go back to his “old ways” and take a “job” with her. What that entails, we can only guess for now. But Jesse is trying to go the straight-and-narrow. So he tells her sorry, no can do and heads off to get drunk.
Of course, nothing is easy for Jesse. He tried to help one of his flock – a girl who’s being beaten by her husband – and the end result is said husband coming after Jesse for a little payback. The Preacher almost lets the dickhead go, but wife-beater doesn’t know when to shut up. He incites Jesse to rage and the next thing you know, dickhead is getting the living shit beat out of him. Vampire Cassidy is even there to help out a bit.
The affair lands Jesse in jail (with Cassidy as a companion) and tests his faith. He decides he’s giving up the God business and heads back to his church to give the mighty deity one last chance to change his mind. Instead of finding God, however, Jesse finds whatever the hell it is that’s making people explode. Except, for some reason, the “thing” likes Jesse as a host. No explosions here. In fact, Jesse’s faith is renewed when he speaks to one of his flock and the guy finally listens to him. Enter, The Voice – a power to command people with a word. Too bad for Jesse (and the man in question), The Voice isn’t so simple to use…
And, as the world turns, some mysterious folks show up in Africa to investigate the exploding holy man. Then they’re off to Russia to check out a similar situation. In the end, however, they end up right there in Fuckhole, Texas. And they know that whatever thing possessed Jesse and the others is there for them to find.
I’d like to start off by saying that AMC and those in charge of bringing Preacher to life have done a pretty damned fine job of it thus far. Being that the show is airing on AMC, they get the freedom to use as much blood and violence as they need (within extreme limits, of course), so we get to see something closer to the original story. On the other hand, they’ve already shown with the Tulip intro scene that they can also avoid gratuitous action when they want.
You can already tell that they’re looking to favor style and execution over FX and the blatant in-your-face action that some shows rely on. This is a huge plus in my book, as I’m too fucking old to care if something blows up or not. Give me a story and make it interesting and you can save your budget in the process. Good directing and editing will always win out. That being said, the action scenes in the series are looking pretty damned fine.
Also, the style of the show is very comic-bookish in a lot of ways. The drama is there, but you can tell that Preacher doesn’t take itself too seriously. If I had to make a comparison, it’s like they combined directorial elements of The Walking Dead with something like Guardians of the Galaxy. The story is a bit absurd, so why not play around with it a bit? I’m looking forward to seeing how the show uses this unique approach as the series progresses.
Point #3 – Great soundtrack. Very atmospheric to the show.
And, finally, a small thing – a main character that smokes. Studios shy away from that like it’s the plague these days, unless they’re shooting something set in the 80s or before. It’s nice to see that the protagonist has bad habits – even the currently unacceptable ones.
The one thing that kind of threw me off was the whole outer space thing. In the original story, the entity which possesses Jesse is Genesis (I’ll leave out an explanation for the sake of keeping spoilers to a minimum). But I don’t remember any outer space connection. I hope they stick with the back-story that Garth Ennis wrote for Genesis instead of trying to turn it into something different or, gods forbid, “modern”. We’ll have to wait and see for this one.
As far as comic book comparisons go (aside from the one above, of course), I was a little bit thrown off by some of the changes. I didn’t really like the fact that all the main characters were crammed into the first episode and all met up with Jesse right off the bat. I know it’s TV and some allowances have to be made but it feels less like a journey when the main character doesn’t have the opportunity to meet the important people in his life as he makes that journey.
That being said, I can’t think of any other changes from the original comic that truly threw me for a loop. The scriptwriters did a good job of translating it for television and there wasn’t a lot that felt out-of-place, even if it wasn’t necessarily the same as the original. I’m a bit pissed off that we’re not likely to see the Saint of Killers. Then again, you never know? I haven’t been keeping up on the pre-release news, so I’ve not heard one way or the other whether he’ll be making an appearance. I certainly hope so. He was, after all, one of the more important characters in the comic.
So those are my words. Hopefully you all enjoyed the Preacher premiere as much as I did. I’ll certainly be tuning in next week to see how it progresses. And, if it stays as good as it started, every week after that.