PREACHER

God’s moving in mys­te­ri­ous ways

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents - Dave Golder

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?”

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