TV Review: “Preacher” – Spread the word, pull no punches

Written by Jesse Gelinas May 25, 2016

Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer in PreacherI’ve been a Garth Ennis fan ever since my brother loaned me the first Preacher books over ten years ago now. Since then it has become one of my favourite comic series, and truly one of my favourite pieces of fiction. It’s an twisted, southern-fried epic of biblical proportions, filled with memorable characters and delicious one-liners. I just love it. So, I was pretty hesitant when I’d heard that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg of all people were finally bringing it to TV with an AMC series. I’m still cautiously optimistic, but the Preacher‘s premiere has left me grinning, and excited for more.

Starting out in Annville, Texas, Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), a small town preacher with a shady past, who sucks at his job. We’re also introduced to Irish vampire, Cassidy (Joe Gilgun), on the run from some pretty organized hunters; and Tulip (Ruth Negga), Jesse’s former lover and partner-in-crime. Tulip visits Annville after a botched job, asking Jesse to join her for one last run. Jesse finds himself at the center of some local troubles he involves himself in, which leads to some expected conflict. Meanwhile, holy men around the world have been exploding in front of their congregations, and the invisible entity responsible seems to be creeping its way toward Jesse’s church with a whole bag of tricks. Fans of the books know this entity, and where this is going. New viewers will just have to wait and see.

 “Jesus, what kind of preacher are you?”

People (myself included) have said a story like Preacher would be basically unfilmable. And if it was to be made, Seth Rogen is not the first name that’d jump to my mind. That said, the premiere shows a lot of promise, as well as a decent amount of respect and reverence for the source material. All things considered, I can see why Garth Ennis was so enthusiastic finally seeing his baby come to life. The tone is set perfectly right from the opening scene, as an African minister spontaneously explodes in front of hs congregation. Similar incidents occur around the world throughout the episode, as two mysterious turn up at each scene, following the blood and carnage. It serves as a nice introduction to the weirdness and surreal quality the books have, and seems to translate well to screen; better than expected even.

Cassidy in Preacher

The cast is solid enough, but may take a bit of time to properly fall into their characters. Cooper’s Custer is a seemingly broken man, haunted by the violent death  of his father. He’s a reluctant preacher in a small town, marred by corruption and apathy. When the story really kicks off (teased by a scene toward the end of the premiere) I think Cooper will fill Jesse Custer’s shoes nicely. He may not be the 1997 McConaughey the role is ideal for, but we shall see. Ruth Negga takes a turn as Tulip, Jesse’s badass ex. She doesn’t do much to really sell the role in the premiere, so hopefully she will be given a better chance to shine sooner rather than later.

The standout is Joe Gilgun as the fast talking, hard drinking Irish vampire, Cassidy. This was the role that I’ve always had a hard time on screen, because I could never picture the perfect actor. Gilgun comes pretty damn close. His Cassidy is quick, crass, strong as fifty men, and fearless enough to dive out of a plane at 30,000 feet with no chute rather than try to land it.

“You’re a bad man, Jesse Custer.”

After the opening explosion, the show is a bit of a slow burn, but then so were the books. We’re toured around Jesse’s one-horse town of Annville and introduced to some locals (including Eugene aka “Arseface,” who I still can’t believe is now on TV). As crummy a preacher as he is, Jesse seems to genuinely care for his flock, involving himself in marital disputes, and crises of faith. I can picture the show going for an Incredible Hulk or Kung Fu template with him using his newfound abilities to help friends and strangers around town. It’s a tried and tested formula that may help bring in some new fans, but I do hope the overarching story gets underway by the end of the first season. This is a western epic, and needs to be treated as such.

The Preacher, Jesse Custer

Overall, the Preacher premiere is a solid 90 minute introduction to a strange new world. Fans of the comics should be pleased with the dedication and love that has obviously gone into keeping the tone and heart of the source material, and the show may just be accessible enough to snag some new fans as well. I’m cautiously optimistic now, and am excited to see some of the classic story play out on screen, and see what other new adventures our unlikely trio may find themselves in. God help ’em… but probably not.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Poster for AMC's Preacher

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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