UPDATE: Saskia Wirth, Director of Communications at Sony Pictures Television has been in touch, very pleased that we love the script so much, but requesting we remove the snippets. Which we are save for two, one which producer Seth Rogen already tweeted and another which is justied by its newsworthyness. We are replaced the script segments
There are adaptations that take the comic book and do it beat for beat. Occasional changes along the way, sure, but they try to stay as close to the text as possible. Like Watchmen or Persepolis.
Then there are those that take the original comic as a starting point and use it to go off to find new territory. All they share with the original is the name, maybe the characters and a couple of nods to the original as easter eggs along the way. Take Men In Black or A History Of Violence.
Then there are my favourites. The ones that divert incredibly from the original but hold fast to the characters and themes that made the original such a hit and just make them work really well on the screen. X-Men First Class, Hellboy, Spider-Man 2, The Walking Dead.
And that is what we get with Preacher. The comic, by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, hated by DC who published it, is the story about three people. Jesse Custer, a bad boy turned bad priest who is literally possessed by the word of God. Tulip, the tom boy bad ass gun toting woman from his past who he fall in in love with all over again – when he is allowed to. And Cassiday, the drunken Irish vampire who makes everything better or worse, or sometimes both. And everyone who gets chewed up and spat out in their wake.
That first issue began in flashback, with Genesis, the progeny of an angel and a demon, escaping from heaven, killing angels on its way, Jesse getting drunk, exposing his congregation’s secrets in the bat and getting the shit kicked out of him. With Cassidy and Tulip meeting up after a hit went wrong. Genesis possesses Jesse, killing all his congregation, Tulip finding his body, the Saint Of Killers being released, Jesse finding he has the Word Of God, dealing with Sheriff Root who then encountered the Saint, in hot pursuit.
The pilot episode is utterly different in structure. Genesis spends the issue moving from holy man to holy man, until it finds Jesse.
[REDATCED: An African preacher being possessed by Genesis before addressing his congregation]
And while the other holy men don’t do well from it, the congregations survive. And so will Jesse’s when it gets to him. So we get to know a bit more about the people in the church – because they are going to make it out. And they are still going to be a part of this story.
[REDACTED: Jesse Custer preaching badly,. 20’s single mother, church organist and right hand woman prompts him]
Including Sheriff Root, who is as much of a bastard in this script as he is in the original. Here he’s just a very small minded than the out and out racist of the original. It’s a different decade, people are more minded to hide it these days…
[REDACTED: Sherrif Root objecting to local racist iconography being changed, getting upset about changing marriages states as well. Jesse hides his bottle, in more ways than one.]
And where Sheriff Root goes, so does his son.
[REDACTED: A teenager’s bedrooom, playing Nirvana. It’s Eugene Root, Arseface, but the nicest kid there can be]
It’s Arseface folks. Just as you remember him. Talking of people you remember….
[REDACTED: Cassidy talking shit about his sexual escapades to hedge funders on a private plane]
All they have to do is change “faucet” to “tap” and that’s Cassidy, even though these are words that Garth never wrote. And that’s what’s so spectacular about this script, it is inspired by Preacher, has been written from the ground up but still reads like Preacher. The changes are fine, they fit, and I can see the show working out really well. The newly transformed Jesse Custer having more of his recent past haunting him. Oh and talking of changes?
Yup, Tulip is black. But she is still utterly Tulip.
[REDACTED: Tulip, in a car with gangsters, fighting them and biting off one of their noses.]
Need more proof?
And normally those kind of asides in scripts really annoy me. Not here though, they are just part of the general joi de vive that inhabits the script. And Tulip’s suddenly-revived relationship with Jesse Custer is bang on the money as well, even if the moments of their reunion is utterly rewritten as well.
[REDACTED: Tulip offering Jesse a joint and trying to persuade him back into a life of crime. He is resistent. But finds a nose.]
The Custer/Cassidy relationship is right there from the beginning as well.
[REDACTED: Jesse and Custer talking out their relative states, in jail. Cassidy pleased Jesse is not a paedeophile priest.]
Oh and look, they even ass special moments for fanboys too.
In the last few days I have read and written about TV pilot scripts for Fear The Walking Dead and Scream and Lucifer (with more to come). But Preacher is the one I am actually ecstatic about. The references are bang up to date and relevant, though not just in an “add an iPad” fashion (though they do do that). In this case it’s gay marriage, offensive sporting mascots and sado masochism amongst consenting adults. In the way that the TV version of Constantine just ripped the politics out of the original comics, Preacher keeps them in.
It is astonishingly good, more so for being so different from the comic. But not in the way that it feels. It feels like Preacher and dammit, that’s all I actually want.
I said that Lucifer depended on casting someone like Russell Brand in the role or it would fail utterly. Preacher, you can just go through central casting, the script is so good that anyone who can memorise a line is going to be made famous by this. Basically if you are an actor and you are asked to read for Preacher, bite their hands off.