Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pilot Talk 2016: Preacher

Every TV season, networks bring out a new crop of shows, in hopes that they'll be the next big hit.  Pilot Talk is devoted to figuring out whether these shows are worth your time based on the first episode.

Sundays at 9:00 PM on AMC

When it was first announced that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg would be adapting the acclaimed 90s Vertigo comic Preacher, it seemed like a bizarre choice.  Though they're avid fans of the comic, it was hard to envision what a version of its story from the guys behind Pineapple Express and This is the End would look like.  If the pilot is any indication, they were the right men for the job.  With the help of Breaking Bad writer Sam Catlin (who will serve as showrunner for the series), they have made an adaptation that doesn't follow the source material's narrative beat-by-beat, but feels perfectly in line with its spirit.

Translating Preacher to the screen is no easy task either.  It's a story that involves an Irish vampire, a man with a face that looks like a rectum, literal gods and angels, and couldn't be more 90s if it was draped in a flannel shirt.  And yet Rogen, Goldberg, and Catlin deliver all of that in a location-hopping, temporally loose opening episode that mostly makes sense in its own way.  And where it doesn't all track, the show is able to coast on its chaotic, gleefully violent tone.  That sense of fun is best exhibited in the scene where it introduces Cassidy (the terrific Joseph Gilgun from Misfits), the aforementioned Irish vampire, with a kinetic fight sequence on a plane 30,000 feet in the air.  A little bit later, we meet Tulip (Ruth Negga, also terrific) in the midst of a tussle taking place within a car swerving through fields of corn.

Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), the protagonist and titular preacher, gets his own opportunity to enact violence but so far he's less distinctive than his counterparts.  That's not to say he's a bad character, but it's hard for him not to come off as a little flat given all of the colorful characters that populate the show's world.  Overall, Preacher feels completely unlike anything else on right now -- a series we didn't even know we needed until we got it.  If it builds off of this rock solid start, we could have a show as classic as its comic book counterpart is.

Grade: B+

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