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23 May 2016 @ 11:52 am
TV Review: Preacher  
Preacher is the latest comic book to get a on screen adaptation, starring Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, and Joseph Gilgun (none of who speak with their native accents).

Back in the mid-2000s, I tried to read the Preacher comics and it just wasn't for me. I normally enjoy stories with a supernatural twist but the aesthetic of the comic just wasn't to my taste and for whatever reason the look seemed too dated for me to get into it. However, I did remember the general set up of the comics and judging by the TV show, it's kept the general idea even as it deviated from the details.

Jesse Custer (Cooper) is the eponymous preacher who has returned to his tiny hometown in Texas to take over his deceased father's congregation. The show makes it clear that before Jesse came back, he lived a troubled life and settling back to Nowheresville, TX is his attempt to make amends for something he did. However, the show also makes it clear that Jesse is getting through each day, one bottle of whiskey at a time and barely dragging himself through his duties. In other words, he's pretty lousy at his job. Meanwhile, we also meet Tulip O'Hare (Negga), Jesse's ex-girlfriend and ex-partner in crime who makes quite a splashy, violent return to town. It's clear that she wants Jesse to join her again on some sort of "job," making her the devil on his shoulder and the constant reminder that Jesse can hide who he is for only so long. And then there's Cassidy (Gilgun) who also makes a splashy entrance (literally) and rounds out this bizarre trio of misfits when he and Jesse meet each other during a bar brawl.

Well, perhaps quartet of misfits.

While we're getting to know our three "heroes," we also track some mysterious entity that's been invading the bodies of various religious leaders. Unfortunately, the invasion quickly leads to an explosion of said religious leader's body so the entity is skipping around in hopes of a host. You can take a wild guess who ends up becoming its vessel. And since we've got 10 episodes to go, Jesse is the first human host to not explode upon contact. He's not even aware there's something inside of him but there clearly is. And it's given him the ability to get people to do what he says. Sometimes literally in the case of a poor congregant. How this will end up playing out we'll just have to wait and see.

Much like the comics that I remember, the show is pretty violent. We have exploding bodies but we also have a lot of people beating other people up and some straight up murder (sort of self defense). The show is pretty unapologetic about its gore and violence content so if you're squeamish or just sick of violence in the media, this show probably isn't for you. The acting by the main cast is pretty top notch and is what really keeps things going. Dominic Cooper gets to try his hand at a soft, Texan accent and isn't half bad. He's also the only one in this show whose character seems at least a bit conflicted about resorting to violence, even though when he fights, he fights dirty and clearly relishes it. The same can't be said for Tulip and Cassidy who shed blood like it's seriously NBD. In Cassidy's case it's more understandable given that we learn early on that he's a vampire (that's right). Overall, I enjoyed the pilot as it set you up to learn about the universe the characters are living in as well as familiarize you with the town and its people. The pilot ends on a pretty good "wait until you see what's next!" note as Jesse reaffirms his commitment to stay as the town's preacher but unbeknownst to him has a scary new power. Cooper's final scene of addressing his congregation and saying he's staying to save them was probably the best of Cooper's acting as it really came across as ominous.

However, my eye is firmly trained on Ruth Negga's Tulip who in the pilot expertly dodged the typical "Badass Chick with Zero Personality" trope. Tulip is certainly badass but she also clearly has a personality and a great mixture of warmth and threat which I liked. I don't think the writing is helping her very much in avoiding the aforementioned trope but Negga's acting is layered enough that she injects more into the character with just the delivery of her lines. Gilgun as Cassidy is probably the only actor who looks exactly like his comicbook counterpart. His put on Irish accent makes it difficult to understand him at times (the show even kind of pokes fun at that) and he's probably the most over the top of all the characters. But he makes a good foil for Jesse and in a weird way is the audience stand-in despite being a creature of the undead.

All in all, I plan to keep watching.

Random fact: my friend who has a history of randomly meeting actors in real life and never recognizing them, watched this pilot with me. I pointed out to her that Dominic Cooper was that guy she once met whom she was convinced was a waiter just saying he was an actor. She still didn't recognize him.
X-parrotxparrot on May 24th, 2016 12:32 am (UTC)
I read all the Preacher comic a while back, and really liked about 50% of it and really hated the other 50%, which was the ultra-violent gore-for-the-sake-of-gore We're Doing An Adult Comic stuff that also turned me off Watchmen and makes me reluctant to read Sandman again. Unfortunately my tolerance for gore is even lower in live-action than comics, so I'm probably going to be skipping this one. ...Which is a shame because yeah, really did like some of it, in particular the characters (or maybe I should say what was done with the characters - the way they moved in and out of likeability was something that could've bothered me but I kept just enough distance to find it intriguing; there was a lot of trope dissection going on.) And as I recall comics!Tulip was how you describe - she should've been a by-the-numbers Kickass Chick but she had enough humanizing moments that I really liked her, and her and Jesse's relationship.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on May 24th, 2016 01:15 am (UTC)
There was something about the 90s aesthetic about the comic book that made it hard for me to get into it. I got through Sandman alright despite the very 90s look but somehow couldn't with Preacher.

...Which is a shame because yeah, really did like some of it, in particular the characters (or maybe I should say what was done with the characters - the way they moved in and out of likeability was something that could've bothered me but I kept just enough distance to find it intriguing

Yeah, so far on the show, no one is terribly likable on paper but they're all pretty intriguing.

I did read the Wikipedia summary of the Preacher comics and I doubt I'll try to read them. But it looks like the show is doing something different with the plot and is keeping everything in one town to cut down on location costs.