Reviews: Preacher 2016

Treading Water

A druggie vampire, a freelance mobster, and a preacher with magic powers go on a trip to find God. It sounds like the beginning to a pub joke, but it’s actually the premise of Season 2 of Preacher, a show I fell in love with last year due to its pitch black sense of humour and its vibrant town of bizarre characters. Having now watched Season 2 through to the end, right off the bat I can say it is a let-down in many ways.

It starts off exciting enough, with the first episode crammed full of car chases, explosions and ludicrous gore. Unfortunately this is probably where most of the budget ended up, because around episode two the trio move into a flat in New Orleans and decide to spend the rest of the season in it. Three fifths of this show takes place in the same grotty kitchen, with the characters sitting around, trying not to fall out with one another through sheer boredom. I can’t blame them – it does get very tedious seeing so much of this story take place in one location, and you get the impression the writers had nowhere enough material to fill each episode. It’s a shame because whenever they do go somewhere, it immediately becomes all kinds of intriguing and exciting and hilarious.

It doesn’t help that this has a much smaller cast than the previous season. There are at least some good newbies – a special mention must go to the season’s highly unconventional, anti-villain. He’s this German mega pervert who aces his way to the top of a clandestine organisation, merely through the power of kink. The show depends on him to move the plot along, with everyone else floundering to find things to do. With so few characters, it isn`t long though before we have to return to that same kitchen to wait for the story to happen. In regards to solving the central story of finding God, I won’t spoil it, but I will say it isn’t a particularly satisfying conclusion. In fact it doesn’t conclude at all, the show simply assuring you that you will need to carry on treading water for the next season.

If you are a fan of the series so far, I still recommend getting on and watching it because when it is good, it is very good. But lower your expectation considerably, because in many respects, this show isn’t what it once was.

Season 1: A Differing, but Faithful Adaptation

Preacher the comic book series is so over-the-top and insane that many of its most iconic moments and characters could never make it on the air intact, and even though I love it very much it has more than a few flaws. Thankfully, this show serves to remedy both of those concerns while not straying from the path of Crazy Awesome.

Rather than kicking off the series with Jesse receiving Genesis and everyone else at the church dying before he meets Cassidy and reunites with Tulip, the show opts to spend its entire first season in the town Jesse serves as preacher for, and thus we get far more time devoted to exploring the protagonist trio and the other factions.

Regarding said trio, I must applaud the actors for Jesse and Tulip; despite both being English/Irish, they convincingly pull off their Midwestern accents to the point that I had no idea they weren't born there until I watched behind-the-scenes footage. Additionally, Joe Gilgun is a perfect fit for Cassidy and I cannot wait to see more of him.

As for the changes they made to the show, I enjoyed and appreciated them for the most part; in particular, introducing Odin Quincannon earlier on and actually making him a bit sympathetic, making Jesse feel more human and vulnerable than his invincible comic book counterpart ever did, and the Bloody Hilarious fight scenes with the angels that we never got in the original story.

There are two changes, however, that rubbed me the wrong way, those being Arseface's backstory and Tulip's character. I won't spoil how Arseface originally ended up disfigured if you haven't read the comics, but the show has him attempting murder-suicide out of jealousy and spite rather than the depressing and relatable series of events of the comics, which makes him less of a Woobie and more of a Jerkass Woobie trying to reform. As for Tulip, in the comics she's still a badass, but she's also empathetic and treats Jesse well after learning why he left her; here, she's a jerk to him and a fair few other characters right from episode one almost to the point of unlikability, and even though her backstory serves to explain why she might be a bit cynical and callous, it doesn't excuse her behavior.

However, I'm more than willing to excuse both of those because the show absolutely NAILED the Saint of Killers's appearance and portrayal. He didn't play a major role in this first season, but I'm gleefully anticipating future episodes of him kicking ass.

As a final note, I'm very glad Garth Ennis was on board for this show, because it could have gone so very wrong otherwise. Whether or not you've read the comics, watch this show if you want something that revels in its own weirdness and badassery with every passing second.

The Television Series, Pard`ner

Preacher sets the tone perfectly within the first minute of the first episode; massive bold letters fill the whole screen to let you know we are in Africa, moments later a priest is hit some kind of magical force, and then finally he explodes in a shower of blood and guts over his entire congregation. Preacher is an offbeat, extremely dark comedy about an incompetent priest (a different one) who finds new lease in life when he inherits some probably evil superpowers. He is hardly the only oddball in town though, as he bumps into an Irish druggie vampire, a pair of wet-behind-the-ear angels, and his murderous criminal ex within one busy week.

Preacher gives you a lot of people to fall in love with. There is not a single character in this show who manages to be unlikable. Besides those fore mentioned oddballs, the show’s sleepy Texan town is packed with incidental characters who all have their own quirks and hidden qualities. Take Donny, who on first glance is a stereotypical, idiot, red-neck, wife beating bully and henchman… who is in reality a loving husband who only hits his wife are part of their secret kink lifestyle, who manages to get the drop on the protagonist on multiple occasions, and who desperately wants to be really good at being a henchman. Then there is the villain himself; a ruthless, sociopath slaughterhouse tycoon who wants to own the town… but who has also undergone terrible personal loss, didn’t have any intentions of harming anyone, and would much rather pass the time in his office playing Qbert than be a big bad industrialist. My favourite though is Emily, a sensible, meek assistant to the preacher who stoically goes about her crazy day, trying her best not to stop, stare into the camera, and sigh “can you believe this fucking bullshit?”

It is also really funny. Preacher loves to contrive perverse, absurd situations, especially during its fight scenes. No two are alike one another, and no one is like anything you’ve seen before. Because of its frequent left turns into gonzo storytelling, you never quite know where the story is going to go next, and it manages to keep the viewer propelled with a frantic energy that stays charged, even through the shows quiet, more contemplative moments. I’ve not read the comic, so I can’t make any comparisons, but as a stand alone show, Preacher is bloody great.