Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 7 hours 51 minutes
Starring: Dominic Cooper, Joseph Gilgun, Ruth Negga, Lucy Griffiths, W. Earl Brown, Derek Wilson, Ian Colletti, Tom Brooke, Anatol Yusef, Graham McTavish, Jackie Earle Haley & Ricky Mabe
With the huge success of THE WALKING DEAD, it was only a matter of time before other horror comics made their way to the small screen. Even so, PREACHER seemed like an unlikely bet due to the sheer absurdity and controversial nature of its plot. Yet Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg prevailed against the odds and we now have one of the most creative genre shows in quite some time. Longtime fans of the source material will find lots of things to love as this first season is basically a prequel to the comics, while newcomers will be gently guided into a bizarre world of demonic possession, gun-toting angels, demon bounty hunters, and a hard-drinking Irish vampire. The first season of PREACHER isn’t perfect, but it’s an absolute blast from start to finish!
Criminal-turned-preacher Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) has returned to his hometown of Annville, Texas. Running from a shady past, Jesse is a mediocre preacher at best. As time passes and he witnesses how corrupt the world truly is, Jesse begins to doubt the existence of God entirely, until he gets possessed by a mysterious entity called “Genesis.” This strange force gives Jesse the power of “the voice,” meaning that when Jesse makes commands or gives instructions in this “voice,” whoever is on the receiving end is forced to obey…even if the consequences might prove fatal.
As if being possessed by a mysterious force and having a god-like power wasn’t enough, Jesse’s life becomes even more complicated when his psycho ex-girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga) comes to town and he makes a newfound best friend in Irish vampire Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun). Meanwhile, Heaven and Hell have noticed Genesis and both sides want to repossess the strange entity from Jessie (see what I did there?). Heaven has sent two bumbling angels (Tom Brooke and Anatol Yusef) and Hell is in the process of sending a gun-wielding bounty hunter (Graham McTavish). Jesse must learn how to control Genesis before it leads to the death of him and those he holds dear.
PREACHER effortlessly blends a variety of genres. Concerning Tulip and Jesse’s relationship and history together, the series is a crime thriller. When it comes to the quirky residents of Annville, the show is an oddball comedy. Showcasing a drunken vampire and a highly unusual demonic possession, the series is a gory horror romp. Meanwhile, the Saint of Killers (Hell’s bounty hunter) flashbacks come off as a darker than dark western. The mix of these genres combined with frequent chaos and action make for one hell of an entertaining and interesting series!
The characters are colorful and memorable across the board. The trio of Jesse, Cassidy and Tulip all have great chemistry with one-another and make for three captivating protagonists. The side characters are equally as fascinating in their own subplots. There’s meat-obsessed tycoon Odin Quinncannon (played to scummy perfection by Jackie Earle Haley), who is given a tragic backstory that motivates his cruel deeds. The comic relief angels Fiore and DeBlanc seem like they were transported straight out of FX’s FARGO series. Meanwhile, Donny Scheck (Quinncannon’s right-hand man) serves as an intimidating antagonist who begins to suspect Jesse’s mysterious power. The most emotional subplot comes from Arseface, a disfigured teenager with a complicated past, who becomes a major player as the main story movies along.
Even though the story is gory as hell, there’s a distinctly toned-down execution to the show’s supernatural elements. The angels look like normal people, even though they can be killed numerous times (making for a few great scenes that feature literal piles of bodies). Genesis looks like a gust of smoke and doesn’t make a visual appearance for 98% of the series, mostly being delivered in Jesse’s deep-voiced ability to make others obey his commands. Speaking of which, the effects that Genesis has on the townsfolk range from heartwarming to intense to downright horrifying. His first command results in one of the most unexpectedly shocking gore gags I’ve seen on TV in a long time.
The show frequently gets gore-soaked. With Cassidy arguably overshadowing Jesse in most of his scenes, this Irish vampire sheds more than a few gallons of the red stuff and has a number of show-stopping moments. His confrontations with the angels early on stand out as simultaneously hilarious and twisted. This show indulges in exploding bodies, chainsaw mayhem, and a certain piece of the male anatomy being shot off. What’s not to love when it’s all executed with an oddball, quirky, and hilarious style.
The first season of PREACHER is violent, twisted, strange, and lots of fun. There are slower episodes in which the plot occasionally drags in order to fuel the craziness surrounding it, but this is simply the kind of show that PREACHER is. The first season builds mayhem as it goes along, preparing the viewer for a stellar finale that opens the door for plenty of madness to follow in the second season. Can it be 2017 already? Because I need more PREACHER in my life.