Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Preacher – Season 1 – review

Director: various

First aired: 2016

Contains spoilers

There was always going to be a risk to making a TV version of Preacher, a graphic novel I described as “a strange and wonderfully offensive volume” there seemed no way that it could be translated straight to screen and yet, should it be changed – diluted even – then there was a good chance that it would lose its core comic book fan base.

The series does not follow the comic book exactly – though it certainly has enough of the irreverent story in place to prove offensive to many. However, the makers have managed to walk the line between their own vehicle and the original well.

Dominic Cooper as Jesse
The preacher of the title is Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter & Dracula Untold) and, as we meet him, he seems to be only half-heartedly following his vocation – a previous bad boy and son of the local preacher who made a promised to his father, repeatedly broke it and then decided to make it right. However, before we meet him we see something search the world possessing clerics and making them explode until it enters Jesse and he doesn’t blow up.

using the Word
The something is Genesis – a force that shouldn’t exist as it is the child of a demon and an angel. It has escaped the celestial prison it was kept in and gives Jesse the power of the Word (though it is not named as such in series). Essentially when Jesse speaks with the voice of Genesis the listener has no choice but to obey – though the obedience can be a little too literal at times. Jesse may have Genesis but two angels, the former custodians Fiore (Tom Brooke) and DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef), wish to take it back before anyone in Heaven realises it is missing.

Ruth Negga as Tulip
Into this situation come Tulip (Ruth Negga) – who is probably the most changed of the characters, still Jesse’s ex but the programme makers described the excellent way they have portrayed the character as their Tulip rather than the comic’s Tulip and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun). Cassidy is our focus as he is the vampire of the story but I’ll get to him in a moment. The actual range of characters in the town is expanded, the tale of Arseface (Ian Colletti) is radically different for instance, and whilst the direction of travel is the same (and the end of the season gets the Preacher on the same quest as the comics) the journey is very different. However, it works, drawing a season that is surreal, bloody, irreverent and fun. Imagine the bastard child of David Lynch and Robert Rodriguez.

feeding to heal
So Cassidy… When we meet him he is travelling on a plane with a group of rich men who are plying him with booze and drugs but actually plan to kill him (we discover that an order of vampire hunters has been dogging his tracks). It all goes to Hell and there is a slaughter, of the hunters, before Cassidy abandons the plane without a parachute. That leaves him quite a splattered mess, luckily he is in cattle country and is able to get some blood… Cassidy seems unaffected by holy items, is burnt by sunlight, needs blood to heal and is affected by drink and drugs. His case file that the sheriff (W. Earl Brown, Knights of Badassdom) finds goes over decades.

One of the important aspects that the show gets right is the deep friendship that develops between Cassidy and Jesse. This is despite the odds, after all a Preacher shouldn’t befriend a vampire, especially when said vampire falls for the Preacher’s old flame. The interactions between Cassidy, Jesse and Tulip are all excellent and carries the show forward as much as the offbeat story and range of weird and disturbed characters.

This is a series worth watching. I liked some of the things the broader opening allowed – such as the background to the Saint of Killers, renamed as simply the Cowboy (Graham McTavish) in this. 7.5 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

On DVD @ Amazon US

On DVD @ Amazon UK

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