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What do you get when you cross some comic fans with a group of Hollywood middleweights who have a small amount of money to burn, an R rating and a contract for 10 episodes?
And what do you get within those episodes if you team up a bank robber turned holy man, with his reckless ex-girlfriend and a vampire? Then you put them in a town with a bunch of truly despicable people and sprinkle it with some angels and demons?
You get Preacher that’s what.
Preacher is an AMC series based on the (is it too early to call it classic?) comic book by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon and with Ennis and Dillon on board as executive producers it is reasonably faithful to the source material. Although it’s been many years since I read it.
And honestly it’s one of those series I never thought I’d see made into a show.
But thanks largely to Seth Rogen (yes that Seth Rogen), Sam Catlin, who was a producer for Breaking Bad, and Evan Goldberg who worked on a lot of movies with Rogen like Superbad, they have made it into a show and for the most part, it’s great.
The story for Preacher was conceived in the mid-90s and achieved a fair bit of success. In fact, Steven King credits it as being fairly influential in the development of his own comic book adaptation of his Novel the Dark Tower. Empire Magazine ranked the Preacher as being the 11th greatest comic book character of all time. So amongst us nerds, Preacher is kind of a big deal.
In spite of the fact that the comic book was published under DC, it was placed under their Vertigo label where the writers had a lot more room to breath creatively and essentially were able to be a lot less wholesome than the characters under their parent company. It’s kind of like when you have that one cool friend as a teenager with the cool parents that would let you get drunk when you stayed over at their place (I guess because it was better than you doing it on the streets or with some stranger), they were like the Vertigo parents, while the rest of us had straight DC mums and dads.
Vertigo stories were often laced with explicit violence, sex, drugs and profanity. In the case of Preacher, it was all of the above.
And it’s really no different with the TV show.
Dominic Cooper who you may or may not recognize as Howard Stark from the first Captain America movie plays preacher Jesse Custer, who isn’t particularly good at being a holy man, although at his core seems to be a guy whose values are on the side of decent. Jesse is not respected by his community that is populated largely by a despicable bunch of people like Odin Quincannon, who runs the local abattoir, played by Jackie Earle Hayley and local alpha male and resident wife beater, Donnie Sheck, played by Derek Wilson.
A supernatural event of sorts takes place when Jessie is inhabited by an entity known as Genesis. Genesis gifts him with ‘the voice of God’ meaning that whatever he says pretty much is and he can get people to do whatever he wants as long as they can hear and understand him.
Along the way he teams up with an Irish drug and alcohol addicted Vampire named Cassidy played brilliantly by Joseph Gilgun and his ex girlfriend and former partner in crime from his bank robbing days, Tulip O’Hare, played by Ruth Negga.
They have run-ins with rednecks, sheriffs, tycoons, angels and demons along the way and the show is pretty much nuts.
But it is a lot of fun.
It’s packed with some very stylized violence that is equal parts shocking and funny and does not take any of it’s subject matter too seriously, in spite of some seriously dark content and themes. If you are easily offended I’d steer clear of this show, but if you have a dark sense of humor and appreciate something that is pretty much entirely different from what you’ll see on TV anywhere else, this is definitely for you.
I’m not even sure how to categorise it; it’s got supernatural themes, drama, action, romance and black comedy in spades.
If you’ve enjoyed shows like the Walking Dead but thought it short on laughs or Deadwood but thought it short on Vampires I think you’ll like this. I did.
But I did almost drop off this one in the middle of the first season, it just lost it’s way on some parts and I felt it took too long to get to the point. But I’m glad I stuck with it, because I’m a couple of episodes into season two and I’m really enjoying it.
Because of that it’s a bit hard to rate, after almost losing me it’s now got me in it’s clutches and it was well worth sticking around for season two which is off to a cracking start, but because it almost did I’m giving it 3 and a half out of 5.