- by Jeff Beck
Preacher: Season One: Colorful Characters Bring a Bizarre Comic Book to Life (Blu-ray)
Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s “Preacher” was yet another comic book series that I had never heard of prior to seeing its adaptation, but it was apparently quite popular back when it was published between 1995 and 2000, totaling 66 issues (plus additional specials). The intriguing-sounding story made it seem like something that would make for a pretty good film or TV show, and while Ennis did attempt to get “Preacher” on the big screen for several years, it would eventually find a home on television at AMC, a channel that is rather open-minded when it comes to shows that might come across as a little strong (i.e. “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead,” etc.).
However, a red flag was soon raised in that it would be none other than Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg helping to develop the show, which could be deemed problematic due to the fact that they’ve given us such disasters as “The Watch,” “The Green Hornet,” and “The Interview.” That being said, they would also be joined by Sam Catlin, one of the people behind the outstanding “Breaking Bad,” in addition to Ennis and Dillon as Executive Producers, so it quickly became a toss-up as to how the entire affair would turn out. Luckily, as we soon saw, things would manage to balance out in a rather decent manner.
“Preacher” takes place in the small town of Annville, Texas, where a preacher by the name of Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) tries to do his best to spread the word of God every Sunday, but finds that he’s just not doing that great a job. Initially wanting to quit, he decides to redouble his efforts instead. However, his life suddenly gets complicated when he becomes inhabited by a strange force that gives him to ability to make others do what he commands. Things only become more complicated when his ex-girlfriend, Tulip (Ruth Negga), shows up, wanting him to come with her to seek vengeance on someone who wronged them years ago.
Meanwhile, he must counter the advances of a greedy businessman, Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley), who will stop at nothing to take over the land Jesse’s church is on. As if this weren’t enough, he also has to deal with a pair of angels (Tom Brooke and Anatol Yosef) who have come to remove the entity (known as “Genesis”) from inside Jesse, which they claim is the offspring of an angel and a demon, and therefore potentially the most powerful being in the universe. All this is to say that his life pretty much gets turned upside down, turning his preaching abilities into the least of his worries.
Indeed, the synopsis alone makes it sound like it’s going to be one hell of a ride (something that can be taken quite literally with a show like this), but strangely enough, while the story itself is compelling enough, it’s really the characters that help bring this strangely fascinating world to life. Jesse himself is an intriguing character in that he’s rather unpredictable. One second he’s ready to give up all hope of being a decent preacher, the next he vows to come back even stronger. There are times we think he is completely devoted to the life he has chosen, but then we see him do (or nearly do) some of the most un-preacher-like things imaginable, throwing a perpetual question mark upon his character (in more than one sense of the word). With a protagonist like this, there isn’t much chance of the viewer ever getting bored, especially as they try to calculate the next move of a man whose behavior is this erratic.
Did I mention he has a 118-year-old Irish vampire friend? If ever there was a story that needed a little levity thrown into the mix, it’s this one, and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) is the perfect character to do it. In just this first, ten-episode season, we don’t get a clear sense of what role he is going to play down the line, but in terms of his presence, he provides the show with several lighter moments that help relieve it of some of the doom and gloom that is cast over much of it, though his arc does take a partial dark turn near the end of the season as well.
The quaint little town of Annville is populated with a number of additional intriguing characters, including Odin Quincannon (played delightfully by Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley), who’s the kind of villain that you love to hate, Tulip, who isn’t afraid to speak her mind (even to God, apparently), and Fiore and DeBlanc, angels who have left Heaven without permission to find Genesis. Again, the story does pull its weight, providing a few interesting twists and turns here and there, but the show just wouldn’t have been nearly as captivating if it hadn’t been for the bizarre ensemble that comes together in this normally peaceful town.
As season one comes to a close, the show goes down a very dark path, which might be off-putting to some, but it left me slightly curious as to where it will go next. The possibilities have been left wide open, and while the comics more than likely already say exactly where it’s going to go, I think most will have the patience to wait and see where this path takes our heroes as it unfolds next season. Given the Earth-shattering revelation revealed in the show’s final minutes, there’ll no doubt be a whole new batch of oddball characters for Jesse and his friends to interact with, and when it comes to a show like this, that would appear to matter the most in regards to keeping it going strong for another season.
“Preacher: Season One” comes to Blu-ray in a 1.78:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of outstanding quality. Even though the show can be rather dark and drab sometimes, the image remains extremely crisp and clear throughout these ten episodes. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is also top-notch, giving you all of the dialogue, soundtrack, and sound effects in excellent quality. Overall, there’s not a single complaint to be had about the amazing treatment that the show has received.
The Unfilmable Pilot (8 Minutes): A look at the long journey it took to finally bring Preacher to the screen, featuring lots of behind the scenes footage of how the pilot was made.
Chainsaw Fight Breakdown (7 Minutes): A featurette that goes behind the scenes of the chainsaw fight in the church.
Behind the Killing Machine: Saint of Killers (7 Minutes): A featurette that explores the Saint of Killers and the Ratwater storyline.
The Stunts of Preacher (8 Minutes): Just as the title implies, this is a behind the scenes look at the show’s incredible stuntwork.
Gag Reel (5 Minutes): A decent collection of outtakes.
Deleted/Extended Scenes: Deleted material that can be found with eight episodes.
“Preacher” has a strong enough story going for it, but it’s truly the bizarre mishmash of colorful characters that help bring this comic book tale to life on the small screen. While the show may have its fair share of dark moments, it’s balanced out nicely with a good dash of humor here and there to help offset its heavier undertones, leaving you with an engaging show that is to be taken seriously, but not too seriously.
Now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
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