For the most part, reaction to AMC’s Preacher has been positive – and with good reason. On a continuum that starts with flawless faithfulness to the material (Sin City) and ends with going so far afield of the source material as to draw actual contempt from the fans and critics alike (Catwoman), it is about a half notch right of, well, AMC’s other comics-based drama, The Walking Dead. Both are fairly faithful to the series that inspired them. The difference is that the characters and events in The Walking Dead television series – Dixon Brothers’ existence, Andrea’s death and a couple other notable items aside – pretty much resemble what goes on in the book.
Purist chagrin notwithstanding, Preacher is faithful to the characters and spirit of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s cult classic. The plot – so far, not so much. That isn’t really a bad thing. Taking into account the current majority of DC and/or Vertigo adaptations for TV, Jesse could be a consultant for a police department or extra-secret science team that deals with the paranormal and people with superpowers. Plus, if you read the series or graphic novels, sure you want Preacher to be bats**t nuts like the comic, but watching the series you saw in your head would just be reruns.
Still, a lot of what fans want is there, with more on the way. Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) has just been possessed by Genesis. Tulip (Ruth Negga) is a gun-toting bundle of secrets and hostility. Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) is an Irish vampire who really should have been the bassist for Sex Pistols. There have even been appearances by, the ‘Meat Man’ Odin Quinannon (Jackie Earl Haley), The Saint of Killers and, this week, Herr Starr.
Sheriff Root (W. Earl Brown) and Arseface (Ian Coletti) are much different than they are in the books, with the Root family being members of Custer’s congregation and the Sheriff being more of an affable town Constable instead of a bitter alcoholic hell-bent on bringing Jesse to justice for killing his entire congregation.
Yes, Negga doesn’t physically resemble the Tulip in the book – but who cares? She embodies everything Tulip was in the book – sexy and deadly as hell. The angels trying to literally put Genesis back in the box are in human form and a little more proactive than they were in the book, but Fiore and DeBlanc act as if they just stepped out of another Ennis/Dillon collaboration.
The real difference is that, at this point, it’s less of a “road story” than the comics series was, and more of an ensemble piece about a town that isn’t so much a quirky and mysterious as it is an insane asylum with “City Limits” signs – and a side order of supernatural shenanigans. Still with antagonists like The Grail and Jesse’s grandmother (potentially) in the future, the show would pretty much have to go on the road at some point. In the meantime, sit back, relax and enjoy the sheer loony goodness of what I’m dubbing Preacher Begins. It’s a lot more productive than griping about the absence of Jesse’s mullet.
Regular episode recaps will resume next week. From here forward, this version of Preacher will be assessed independent of the graphic novels.
Preacher airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC.