So, after having spent the last few months threatening to “give it to us but GOOD”, AMC finally fulfilled that threat a couple of weeks ago by debuting PREACHER, the launch of a freshman series from two minds known more for subversive comedies, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, based on the graphic novel series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. Now before I go any further, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit to having never read the series. This may be a good OR a bad thing, depending on how much of a ‘purist’ you are when it comes to these kinds of adaptations. I know there are certain properties I feel pretty strongly about, but this was not one of them. I went in armed only with the intel I have gleaned from some wiki pages, and from my longtime best buddy, who happens to be my comic and graphic novel ‘guru.’
Just based on first impressions alone, AMC hasn’t served us up anything this “batshit-crazynuts” since Sheriff Rick Grimes had to off a not-so-cute little zombie pre-schooler, in the first season of THE WALKING DEAD. And folks, you know that in terms of TV time, that happened EONS ago.
I’m pretty sure Seth and Evan knew that they had to come HARD with some wild shit right out of the gate, and it seems they had no problem doing THAT whatsoever. The opener treats us to a ball of extraterrestrial force hurtling through the Milky Way, towards Earth, where it proceeds to find itself a suitable living host, in the form of several random holy men. Emphasis here on the word “SUITABLE”, because the unlucky ones who aren’t? Well, the resulting rejections are pretty explosive…as in more explosive than you would be after a 12-taco-5-bean-burrito-binge at T-Bell.
Meanwhile, in what seems like completely random fashion, we are introduced to three vividly unique characters, starting with our titular lead, Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper, who plays Tony Stark’s dad in the MCU). Jesse is not very good at this religion business and he knows it, barely hanging on to his congregation, spending more time rearranging the letters that some sterling wit chooses to change up each Sunday, to display some pretty raunchy messages. But with his church being in a place like ‘Annville’, Texas, something like that is pretty much par for the course.
Next up is Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), with the smile of a viper and an Irish brogue thicker than an entire bottle of Jagermeister. He appears to be the hosting bartender and life-o’-the-party aboard a private jet seemingly, filled with rich Wall-Street-asshole types, but a marked-up Bible in the men’s room indicates to him that his clients are a lot more than that. Here, we get introduced to one of several intense action sequences that seem to explode out of left field (lots of things exploding in this pilot), and oh, by the way…did I happen to mention that Cassidy is a vampire?
But wait…before you even get a chance to catch your breath, here comes Priscilla Jean Henrietta O’Hare, aka “Tulip” (Ruth Negga), and her introduction is every bit as badass as Michonne’s was on THE WALKING DEAD, if not moreso. Fighting for her life against two men in a speeding muscle car, smack in the middle of a Kansas cornfield, (and the way this sequence is put together is nothing less than amazing), she enlists the help of a couple of local kids to further hamper the efforts of more ‘bad guys’ who try to come for her. The results are not good for THEM, of course, but for Tulip, they are – to quote the two tykes – “AWESOME!”
And that sets the tone and the stage for the rest of this eye-popping pilot, as the dynamics between Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy are established, and not to mention that strange force, which reappears to change the game completely.
And you know me…I love my character actors, and I didn’t think I could get anymore excited about this series, until I spied W. Earl Brown (DEADWOOD, THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY) in the cast, as the Sheriff of Annville, Hugo Root, whose son, Eugene (Ian Colletti) is a friend of Jesse’s. Eugene’s nickname is “Arseface” in the books, from what I understand, and when you see him…well, you’ll understand why. He’s another of the many colorful characters that will have an important part to play in this majorly messed-up story.
If you are more than familiar with Ennis and Dillon’s series, none of this will be new to you. But if, like myself, you haven’t seen panel one of the graphic novels, it will definitely occur to you that PREACHER is not your grandad’s style of storytelling. In fact, we’ve been waiting for some time to see what the next level looks like after GAME OF THRONES and THE WALKING DEAD. This, folks, is just one series that is bringing it. Yes, more questions than answers are provided, as with any good show that you’ll want to follow, to obtain those answers.
From what I understand, PREACHER has been on the boards for a couple of decades, and had been turned down by several major cable outlets before AMC snapped it up. Well, the enthusiasm and love that Rogen and Goldberg have for this property shows in every frame, from casting to visuals, and pulling in BREAKING BAD scribe Sam Catlin ensures that even though they can’t just rip the stories off of the book’s pages, and splatter them all over the screen verbatim, there won’t be the kind of sugarcoating or watering-down that most of the books’ fans feared it would be. Looks like AMC invested wisely.
I know that these guys can count ME as being on-board to see where Jesse and his pals are going with this.