Years ago after finding out about my love of comics my cousins told me about one called “Preacher”. They raved about it, insisting I check it out. Based on their description though, which wasn’t much as it was to be experienced, I didn’t follow through. It just didn’t seem to be my kind of thing. But I always kept it in mind.
Years later at a book sale I came across 2 trades of the beloved “Preacher” that covered issues 34 – 50. I know that is a bit late in the series but I thought if it was so good I could fall into the story or at least pique my interest enough to pick up earlier issues at a later date. With that in mind and the fact they were only a few dollars each, I picked up both.
I should have been weary just based on the covers but it was still worse than I expected. It was overall very dark and the art was…. unsettling. It was grimy, oily, dirty, making looking at the page difficult. And the stories just seemed to be gross. Not intriguing or mind blowing, just disgusting and revolting. I didn’t finish reading them.
Since then I have tried to read it on multiple occasions and failed miserably at the task. I would get a few pages in, lose interest, flip though the book looking at interesting layouts and odd visualizations, and then unceremoniously put it aside to go through something more my tastes.
When I heard all the hoopla about a TV show based on the comic I was intrigued. I wasn’t sure how something that, to me, had such questionably gross storylines would translate onto the small screen. But the casting and the hype sucked me in.
So far, Preacher is about a preacher with a questionable past who returned to his home town to take over his father’s church. While there he is given, what he believes is a gift from God, befriends a vampire, and his old trouble making girlfriend shows up.
The show is good. Like really really good. From the acting, the story, script, pacing, direction, all of it is good. I was very surprised how quickly it all pulled me in. The seediness is still there but there is something much more appealing about it in this visual form.
This appeal may have something to do with Dominic Cooper in the title role. Personally he is a bit too good looking to be a preacher (it would make me show up to church more often but the sins I would be commuting in my head would ensure my damnation) but he does it so well. The southern drawl, the coiffed hair, the sly grin, his righteous indignation, it all works. Ruth Negga is fantastic as Tulip. She is petite and interesting and fierce. She commands every scene she is in. She just has a presence. Also whoever is doing her wardrobe is killing it. She looks fantastic in everything. Cooper and Negga have been in a few things together recently. They are both part of the MCU and they were in Warcraft as the king and queen. Their crazy on screen chemistry comes across in their performances making everything they do just a bit more believable.
Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy was an exceptional casting choice. He is a squirly unsavory character that is unintentionally amusing and you just kind of like him. He is a master at flipping moods, creepy glances, and crooked smiles. This is the kind of thing he has done previously playing the split personalities of Rudy Wade on Misfits and the crazy inmate Hydell in the wholly underrated action flick Lockout.
Odin Quincannon is the the antagonist of the show so far. He is an off putting unsavoury character that likes to listen to animals being slaughtered on the killing floor of his slaughterhouse. He is creepy, strange, ruthless, and portrayed to a tee by Jackie Earle Haley.
The rest of the extended cast also seem to have been cast well for their roles. The angels, Fiore and DeBlanc played by Tom Brooke and Anatol Yusef respectively, are stoic but clearly freaking out at the same time. Ian Coletti as Eugene aka Arseface has his work cut out for him but he is doing it. Most of his acting so far has just been with his eyes and it works. You feel pity for this person who once committed a heinous act which his face reminds him of everyday. Then there is Emily, Lucy Griffiths, who is trying so hard to be a good person but that darkness inside her is just screaming to get out.
The lives of the rest of the people in the small town of Anneville is wholesome on the surface but something dark and sad is underneath it all. People don’t talk about the fetishism, violence, and general malaise of the town until they are faced with it. They go about their business, speak in whispers, and shun who they are expected to shun in public. You actually pity the people who live in this town.
The reveal of the plot is methodical but not slow. Preacher is relatively linear as there is a clear point A to point B story arc over the 10 episodes. However, there are nonlinear elements interspersed throughout revealing connections, betrayals, and horrific events. This helps bring the viewer up to sped as motivations and attitudes are understood without wasting their time on unnecessary content. It compactly develops character while still moving the main story along. These nonlinear events do not divulge too much information at once. They are breadcrumbs leading the audience in specific directions that at times seem like dead-ends but become relevant as more of the story is disclosed. The technique is used well keeping the viewer enticed and wanting more.
The direction of the show is interesting.
The use of light and shadow to hide expressions and actions….
arid, dusty, vistas that evoke feelings of lonely weariness…
the reserved use of bright colour to emphasize specific people/scenes…
filters laid over scenes to differentiate between time periods/places. These techniques are used well making the environment a character in the story evoking feelings and emotions without words being said creating an overall tone for the show that is strange, moody, and engaging.
As I said before, Preacher is a really good show. It sadly had disappointing ratings but AMC seems to know when they have something worthwhile because they did renew for a second season. I am looking forward to finding out what happens to these characters as the season finale isn’t much of a cliffhanger but it does change the direction of the show.