So, anyone who knows comic books knows that Preacher is a pretty legendary series. Published by Vertigo way back in the day, it told an extremely adult story about the life of small town preacher Jesse Custer. One day, Jesse is visited by a strange spirit that ultimately makes him the most powerful being on the planet. Granting him the word of God himself, the entity chooses Jesse, and Jesse chooses it right back. What the Preacher television show does differently from these comics is…well, quite a lot. Changing everything from the pacing to character backstories (and even sometimes their abilities) we get a ton of new content in this series. Today, we’re diving into AMC’s take on the popular series, Preacher!
So, to start, Preacher is something of a mixed bag, at least in the first season. I always try to walk into these shows without having read the source material, only because I don’t want to fall into the typical trap of going “Well, X was better than Y and blah blah blah.” Unfortunately, with a series that’s as storied as Preacher is, that’s going to be a tough thing to avoid. However, if you’re looking for a faithful adaptation of the comics, I can tell you that this is most certainly not going to be it. However, certain smaller details are kept the same, such as the location of where the story takes place.
On that note, we find ourselves in Annville, Texas. Here, Reverend Jesse Custer leads his flock weekly, as we find out, he’s not exactly very popular around town. He’s regarded as somewhat of a dangerous man, and it seems that the whole town is well aware of it. It’s from here that we meet the ass kicking Jesse Custer, as well as his extraordiarily ass kicking girlfriend, Tulip, as well as their vampire friend, Cass. I’m happy to report that Cass is still amazing to watch on screen, as he was to read. Jesse and Tulip however…not so much. The show suffers from a lot of fatigue. Rather than getting right into the story, they dally around for four or five episodes trying to set up the mystery of Jesse’s past and Genesis.
The show ultimately plays it far too safe. A story like Preacher, which is seeped in religious imagery and parallels concerning faith, needs to have that edgy storytelling that made the series so popular in the first place. Unfortunately, what we get is a spineless approach to the first season, avoiding anything that could really cause any controversy. While the show does get dark at certain points, the unfortunate truth is that it strays so far from the source material that it ends up bordering on boring. We spend so much time listening to Jesse whine and Tulip/Cass pine, that we don’t actually get to the interesting bits until near the end of the season.
What the show lacks in pacing, it definitely makes up for in action and intrigue. I was happy to see that the bond between Cass and Jesse was explored a lot more in the show, but the ridiculous setup for season 2 as well as just how much time the show took to get to the point was nearly unforgivable. Also, setting up the seraphim as a surburban mom was just…stupid. Like, really, really stupid.
Unfortunately, Preacher’s first season stops just short of falling flat. At least if it had fallen flat, I’d be able to tell you to stay away from it, but I just can’t. The show has too much potential, and there really is an opportunity for better as we move along. If they fix the issues with the pacing as well as all of the problems with the characters themselves, we may have a very good show that could rival many others in the same slot. For now though, Preacher is a lackluster attempt at reviving source material that deserves a lot better.