Starring: Dominic Cooper, Ruth Nega, Joseph Gillgan, Lucy Griffiths, Tom Brooke, Anatol Yusef, Graham McTavish
NOTICE* I try to keep my reviews as spoiler-free as possible but their may be some references to plot points that may be considered mild spoilers, reader discretion is advised.
This is Preacher, but not as we know it. Like it’s Network contemporary The Walking Dead before it, Preacher is quite different at times to the comic book it is based on but knows that it has certain beats it has to hit to get it to where it needs to be.
Firstly, This show is a class prospect, from its opening titles with the actors name cast over a image from the show that typifies their character, to the glorious slow southern gospel that acts as the shows main musical theme. It really is gorgeous stuff, it gives the show a swagger and sense of confidence right from the get go, until we get a few episodes in to the season. I’m not attempting a diss here, it just seems to loose that early confidence and consequently starts to meander a little, so, after a very, shall we say, leisurely start to its first season, Preacher ultimately succeeds in holding its audience right up to the last episode. It is a little shaky at times due to a slightly plodding pace mid season, however it is held together nicely thanks to a great handling of the core premise and an even greater cast.
The actors in this show are pretty great across the board, special praise has to go to both Joseph Gillgan & Ruth Nega respectively, they both completely inhabit their characters, they are Cass & Tulip as written in the comics, perfectly cast and wonderfully realised.
Dominic Cooper’s Jessie is a tough one and requiring of a bit more perseverance from the audience as a character. He’s not very likeable at times, has a massively wayward moral compass that seems to change weekly but showing a lot more depth as the series progressed. A lot of intrigue is drummed up about Jessie’s past and the circumstances after the death of his father which leads to some places in the comic that would be dynamite on this show. I think as a character, he will really come into his own in season 2.
Graham McTavish is also very well cast as yet unnamed Saint of Killers, a thoroughly mystifying prospect to the uninitiated. ‘Why has the show suddenly turned into a Western?! Who’s the cowboy?!’ It’s a risky game, to play so willingly with the setup for one of the great villains/anti-heroes the show has, the reveal of his predicament in episode 9 was a stroke of genius which helped them to get away with it, just!
Tom Brooke & Anatol Yusef who play DeBlanc & Fiore are two of the shows constant highlights, consistently brilliant all the way through. They work incredibly well as a very odd and funny coupling.
I think it is fair to say in this first season the show runners have run a fine line between genius & alienation of its uninitiated audience, a plodding pace to the first half of the season didn’t really help matters. I completely understand they need to establish their characters and the core story it just felt a little too risky at times but the end of the season brings things back up to pace with some great spectacle and the welcome addition of some brilliant comic relief in the last episode that was one of my personal highlights of the season.
I am very glad they have been given the grace period of a second season to really kick things into gear. You only have to look at the recent cancellation of the greatly revered Hannibal to know that Networks don’t give a damn for a show runners “long game” with respects to story structure, if the viewing figures aren’t there or if they dwindle too dramatically, well, we know the rest. In some ways this first season has kind of reminded me of Breaking Bad when it first started, and not just in its gritty stylistic approach. It is brave, bold, brilliant but skirting the lines of loosing its audience at times. We all know just how well Breaking Bad did from its second season onward.
It hasn’t been a perfect inaugural season for Preacher, it has been good, at times it has been amazing. It has muddled the personalities of its characters a few times and it has suffered from trying to cram a little too much information in which, given the source material, I think can totally be forgiven. I would definitely advise people to watch this show and to give it the patience it deserves. Roll on season 2, because all hell’s a comin.