It is impossible to judge the potential of any comic book adaptation on the first episode. Well, except maybe that failed Wonder Woman series. Then again, “Preacher”, as just a comic book, is about as far as you can get from “Wonder Woman”. AMC premiered their adaptation of Garth Ennis’ seminal comic book, “Preacher”, on Sunday night and AFJ is here to weigh in. We will tackle the good, the bad, and the ugly surrounding AMC's new series.
In anticipation of its release, I went back and re-read the entire series. I was surprised how taken I was with it the second time. To be honest, to re-read comics is often difficult as one starts skipping over the non-essential parts. That didn’t happen to me this time. In fact, every part of “Preacher” is essential to the overall story, which is what makes a television series based on the comic so scary. We’ve seen how AMC’s The Walking Dead can get off the comic’s path, change, add new characters, and find its way back. Can their TV series of “Preacher” do the same? All that will be seen in time.
The casting of Dominic Cooper, Joseph Gilgun, and Ruth Negga looks, thus far, to be spot on. I was worried that having Young Howard Stark (Cooper) on the series would be distracting. It’s not as if Cooper hasn't proven himself to be a chameleon as well as a recognizable face. Joseph Gilgun, as Cassidy, was my standout character for the premiere. I’ve never heard of the actor before, but that accent was exactly how I heard Cassidy in my head when I read the comic. I checked out of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a long time ago, so Ruth Negga is a fresh face. She had the right amount of tenderness in those scenes with the kids, and badassery in the scene we didn’t really see with the helicopter, to allow me to know she wasn’t faking it either. All in all, these characters are a good translation from comic to screen.
For those of us that have read the comic, we know that there are several more unique characters coming. Some will take a long while to get to, such as the Allfather of the Grail. One in particular was hinted at early and that is Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley). Though not visibly present, we did see Quincannon’s meat packing plant where one member of Jesse’s congregation works. A nice little Easter Egg for those who read the comic.
Another thing we didn’t actually see was Genesis (the product resulting in the coupling of an angel and a demon) and that is fine. Keep that part of the story a mystery for the regular members of the audience; who don’t know what type of powers are at play here. However, I think Genesis’ appearance and consummation may have been omitted to “soften” the premiere. Which brings me to…
Arseface (Ian Colletti) wasn't really all that terrible to look at. Call me jaded, but seeing an asshole on someone’s face is supposed to be a tad unsettling. However, this kid looked as if he had been drinking from the Dead Sea for 5 straight years. The eye and the forehead were also not nearly as unsettling as how Steve Dillion and Glenn Fabry drew the character. Does this mean that Lorie Bobbs is also not going to be as unsettling?
Damn it, I saw an iPad. I was really hoping that this series was going to take place in the same time as the comic (1995-2000). In setting the series in the present, we also loose Arseface’s motivation for how he got that way. Wasn’t that also his motivation for his future career in the story? A teenager today idolizing Kurt Cobian seems a bit of a stretch. Our world gets so much smaller with technology, and I was looking forward to having these characters really work to find each other in the stories ahead, not watching them struggle with dying cell phones or the lack of cell towers. So will this mean that Jesse’s dad was in the second Iraq conflict? Speaking of which…
I thought Jesse’s dad, John, looked like Jesse? This was such simple device in the comic: draw the lead’s father to look like the lead. The powers that be cast a different actor instead of letting Dominic Cooper play both roles. We’ve seen this done before in films and television, so why not a quick look at a young boy from his father with a fade to the man who now resembles him?
This was a solid first episode. I’m all for what Garth Ennis wrote in his comic coming to life. Oddly enough, the larger fascination for me will be the public’s reaction to the darker parts of the story to come. Can you see the more vocal and social media savvy religious leaders denouncing a comic book story that is now twenty years old, all because it is on television? Someone eventually will, especially when they feel as if they need some face time on the twitter-sphere. With that in mind, how far can the creators of this show push it? How true to the comic can they remain? I guess we will find out, and that will be one hell of a ride.