Full disclosure: Although I am a comic book nut, I have not read Garth Ennis’s Preacher comic. This is one of the properties everyone has raved about and I always said, “I’ll get to it.”, so this review will be fun because for the first time in a while, I’ll have no connection to the property the TV show is based on. For the first time, I can actually review a comic book TV show like a regular Joe. There will be no nitpicking comparing the show to the comic book that folks do often. When I heard that the comic book was being adapted, I thought of rushing to read it in time for the show, but then decided, “Nah.” So let’s jump into Preacher head first and see what this is about.
The pilot episode operates like most pilot episodes. It does take a little bit of time to ramp up before drawing you completely in. One thing that you can appreciate is the show doesn’t hold your hand at all. Pretty much from the first few moments of the show, you’re already playing catch up. Why are religious leaders getting possessed and then exploding? Don’t know… too bad we’re on to the next scene. Producers Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and showrunner Sam Catlin are hoping the audience is smart enough to see the world they are building without an annoying origin story, and that’s a good thing.
After a brief orientation to whatever is blowing up clergymen across the globe, we settle in small-town Texas, where we meet the titular character Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) who is basically a broken preacher, simply running through the motions as a preacher in this small town. His church is running out of money, he can barely keep his sermons together, and he really likes to drink. One thing’s clear about Jesse, he’s got a dark past and a dark side.
Much of the episode focuses on Jesse discovering that one of his parishioners is abusing his wife. There’s not much he can do within the realm of the law. The only thing he can do is talk to the sheriff, who couldn’t care unless the abused spouse comes forward. Turns out, the abused likes getting beat in a psycho-sexual way. That doesn’t stop the abusive husband from wanting the preacher to drop it but beating him down in a bar. And this is where we get to see the badass hiding behind the collar. Jessie proceeds to deliver some good old fashioned small town justice with extreme prejudice.
Oh, we also have his friends, and one is a vampire. Wait what? We have a show about an ass kicking preacher, who becomes best buds with a vampire? Joe Gilgun plays Cassidy: a hard drinking, cocaine-snorting vampire. Once again, no hand holding here, just catch up audience. We are introduced to him partying on a private jet when it turns out everyone partying with him are some sort of vampire hunters and they drop their drugs and pull out axes and stakes as they try in vain to take him down. Not only does Cassidy dispatch them and enjoy their blood, but he then decided to jump out of the soon to be blown up plane without a parachute.
The third member of this trio is Tulip played by Ruth Negga. Right now, she may be a shoo-in for the “favorite character” award. We’re just introduced to her as a human wrecking ball. She dispatches people with a smile and then proceeds to charm some small children right afterwards. She’s being hunted by someone, but that doesn’t matter because she’s the real hunter. It’s clear she has some sort of history with Jesse because she offers him an opportunity that he turns down. Now that she’s in the same small town with Jessie, we’re sure they’ll be crossing paths.
The overarching story will probably center on whatever the entity that has been trying to jump into clergymen and blowing them up. It even jumps into Tom Cruise and kills him! However, it has now found a host, Jessie. What it plans to do with him is anyone’s guess. Not only will Jessie have to deal with it and whatever it does to him, but there also appears to be some sort of “Men In Black” group that are following it as well.
So a priest, a vampire, and a super badass killer walk into a bar, what bad could happen? The show’s off to a good start. I heard it will be straying from the Vertigo comic book source material, but so far so good. The show has the potential to fill in our Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead blood and gore void until those zombie shows return. Plus, it’s got a character named “Arseface!” So far so good!