God’s moving in mysterious ways
It’s absolutely nothing like the comic, but our man is impressed.
RELEASED 17 OCTOBER 2016 | 18 | BLU-RAY/DVD
CREATORS SETH ROGEN, EVAN GOLDBERG, SAM CATLIN
CAST DOMINIC COOPER, RUTH NEGGA, JOSEPH GILGUN, IAN COLLETTI, LUCY GRIFFITHS, TOM BROOKE
There are some people who will insist that the Preacher TV series is terrible. Most of these people are fans of the comic who hate the fact that the TV show is pretty much nothing like it. Which is fair comment. But if you watched the show totally ignorant of what it was based on, you wouldn’t care. You’d just know you were watching something extraordinary and stupidly entertaining.
Sure, the show bears so little resemblance to Garth Ennis’s source material – a kind of supernatural road movie in comic book form – that it’s easy to understand fans’ frustration. Why bother calling it Preacher at all? On the other hand, there are just enough similarities to ensure that Ennis would be suing if the series’ producers had tried to pass it off as something original (even if they’d changed the names). Bottom line is: if Preacher the comic is responsible for inspiring the exquisite madness that is Preacher the TV series, then praise be to the comic. And if the TV series gets people reading Ennis’s work, then nobody’s really lost out, have they?
The one-line pitch may have been: it’s about a small-town Texan preacher who becomes the host for a celestial being that gives him the power to command people to do what he wants them to do. On the other hand, it could have been: what if the Coen Brothers had directed From Dusk Till Dawn? The Coens’ influence is everywhere, from the use of quirky pop and country songs on the soundtrack to the casting of engaging small-town misfits, to the numerous random scenes and images that initially seem to exist in splendid isolation, their relevance only later becoming clear. It’s also gloriously, cartoonishly gory at times, and has more twists than that spaghetti of wires behind your TV set; that’s the Tarantino in its DNA.
Case in point: there’s a bat’s-arse fight scene in episode six that’s unlike anything you’ve seen on TV before. Genuinely. No hyperbole. Straight up unique, and a total blast. How often do you watch a television show and think, “Blimey, never seen that done before”? For this alone, Preacher deserves high praise. It’s actually doing something – gasp – original. And there’s quite a lot of that going on in the show. Hell, it’s even found new things to do with a vampire. Horrible things mainly, that require the deaths of many innocent dumb animals.
Joseph Gilgun provides the stand-out performance as shameless, motormouth Irish vampire Cassidy; he gets all the best lines, but also gives the show some heart. Because poor old Dominic Cooper, playing preacher Jesse Custer, has to go through the whole “power corrupts” storyline
Preacher is doing something – gasp – original
in this first season before learning the “with great power” lesson; and while Cooper gives a totally committed and raw performance, Jesse is, by necessity, a dick for much of the season. Ruth Negga is wonderful as sassy ex-girlfriend Tulip, though you do wonder what she sees in Jesse at times. Of the back-up cast, Ian Colletti is heartbreakingly good as hideously-scarred, self-loathing teen Arseface, while Jackie Earl Haley makes his mark as odious slaughterhouse boss Odin Quincannon.
There are problems. The pace sags seriously mid-season. There’s an intriguing subplot involving a gunslinger that vanishes for episodes on end. Jesse doesn’t use his powers half as much as you’d like. And occasionally the wackiness has an artificial “insert wacky moment here” feel. Interestingly, the season ends roughly in a place which suggests that the next series could be much more like the comics. So maybe season two could end up pleasing everybody.
Extras The DVD has deleted/ extended scenes (17 minutes), plus featurettes on the pilot and the stunts (15 minutes). The Blu-ray (rated) adds featurettes on the character Saint of Killers and episode two’s chainsaw fight (13 minutes), plus a gag reel (five minutes). An Amazon-exclusive Collector’s Edition Blu-ray has an extra disc with four more bonuses: the table read of the pilot (60 minutes) and featurettes on costumes, prosthetics and filming the big finale sequence (21 minutes); it also comes with a hardback graphic novel of issues 1-12 of the comic.
Showrunner Sam Catlin has some vocal cameos: he’s the radio announcer heard in the pilot and in the season finale.
The fellas had a good discussion about the smoking ban.
“Can’t you just put Athena posters on your walls?”