Monday, August 1, 2016

Preacher


   As a comic geek, and a movie nerd the list of things I'd love to read/watch will eternally be longer than the list of things I love that I have already read/watched. But sometimes when a certain title on one list, crosses over to the other- I gotta make it a priority. Preacher is one such title. I only just got caught up on the show a couple weeks ago, but I'd been holding off so that I could read the comic book first. Now whether or not you think that's a bad idea is irrelevant. I ended up loving the comic, and I'd only read about ten to twelve issues before starting the show, but either way I've got (almost) nothing but good news.

   As a new fan of the comic, I loved what the show was offering up early on. But, be forewarned, it changes a lot of stuff from the book. When Watchmen came out, it was railed on in some circles for actually being too devoted to it's source material, a commitment that some saw as detrimental to the movie itself. Even as is, it changed a fair amount of stuff. It's a good comparison to Preacher, because instead of doing that, the showrunners decided to rework the plots and storylines to fit the medium of a TV show. I believe that Watchmen might've prospered better as a mini-series if they had wanted absolute faithfulness, but that's a discussion for another time.

   The thing is, the changes that they've made for the show... they really work. There are some fantastic moments in the show that aren't even in the book, (as far as I read) but most importantly they feel like they could've been. The tone of the show is spot-on. They nailed the humor, the griminess of it all, and the actual themes of the comic. The show just approaches it all from different starting points. The comic is undoubtedly a product of the 90's, and it definitely showed. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, I personally loved it, but things have moved on a bit since then. Some of the jokes wouldn't land right today, and I'm not even talking about political correctness- because this show is far from politically correct.

     Moreover, the casting is fantastic. Sure, Dominic Cooper and Ruth Negga might not look exactly like Jesse Custer and Tulip O'hare the way that... say... Henry Cavill physically embodies Superman, but that's besides the point with characters like this. Cooper and Negga nail these roles, breathing life into them, and above all making them engaging and fun to watch. Speaking of 'fun to watch' though, it's hard to beat Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy, who's an often unintelligible Vampire who's just 'along for the ride', and he's a blast to watch. His character is a major highlight of the show and he steals just about every scene he's in. But, of course, and rightfully so- the show is at it's strongest when all three are together. Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy.

   The show takes a left turn away from the source material almost immediately. In the comic, the trio are almost immediately on a road trip to find god. The show on the other hand has Jesse stay in town on a mission to try and bring everyone to 'the light', so to speak. I don't wanna spoil anything, but this was actually a smart move, that ended up with mixed but mostly good results. The singular setting (as opposed to an ongoing road trip) allows us time to get familiarized with the show's concepts, characters and ideas before dumping us into a whole batch of crazy- not that it doesn't get there eventually. But I liked the decision to familiarize us with a whole cast of supporting characters over the course of the first season.

   This wouldn't have been immediately possible if the show had remained slavishly faithful to the comic. Some two-issue characters from the comic have much longer presences on the show, and that's not a bad thing at all. I also really liked Tom Brooke and Anatol Yusef as a certain duo from the comic. They were really expanded on in the show, and I loved it. They were a catalyst to some of the craziest moments in this season. Also a standout in the cast is Jackie Earle Haley (who played Rorschach in Watchmen, incidentally) as the depraved business baron, Odin Quincannon. He's a fantastic character who is as vile and crazy as he is unpredictable and fun to watch. Anyways, while I enjoyed the season as a whole, Preacher's maiden voyage on TV is admittedly not perfect. The show starts to lose inertia towards the middle episodes of the season. Plot lines get stagnate or redundant, but thankfully...

   ...The show's energy picks back up in time to save it, and it crosses the finish line with absolute gusto. It's about damn time a comic like Preacher was adapted into a TV show. The Walking Dead is fine and all, and the Netflix/Marvel stuff is excellent, but they all lack a twisted and dark sense of humor that comic books like Preacher have. It's that precise tone that sets the show apart from anything else on TV right now, making it a blast to watch. It's a little action packed, a little fucked up, a little sick, surprisingly emotion, very violent, and very funny. If that doesn't sound like a good time to you... then we've got nothing left to say to each other. Vaya con Dios.

   Also, I don't think I'm capable of pronouncing 'preacher' properly anymore. It's ˈprāCHər (pray-cher') from here on out. Howdy'.

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