Preacher (Season 1) ★½

A criminal-turned-preacher, Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) returns to his hometown of Annville, Texas to preach at his father’s church. When he arrives, the church is small, scarcely populated on Sundays, and its most appealing feature is the sign at the end of the dirt road leading to the church that people like to move the letters around and pervert whatever religious message is displayed. Other than Jesse, the two people that seem to truly care about the church and religion are Emily (Lucy Griffiths), a widow and mother who is the organist, and Eugene (Ian Colletti), known as “Arseface” for the shape of his mouth.

preacher-season-1Waiting for Jesse (whom is referred to as “Preacher” by the majority of the town), is Tulip (Ruth Negga), an ex-girlfriend of his. The two committed crimes together in the past and she wants Jesse to exact revenge with her on an accomplice who betrayed them during a robbery. Jesse is determined not to fall back into crime, but some habits- his alcoholism and questionable moral capacity- linger from his past. Also in Annville is Cassidy, a scrawny vampire excellently acted by Joseph Gilgun.

Tulip and Cassidy quickly become sidekicks to Jesse, subverting whatever their interests are in favor of his. The two are introduced to great effect in Preacher’s season premiere, but their roles quickly diminish to ‘girl who needs help’ and ‘boy who gets in trouble’, respectively.

Soon after arriving in Annville, Jesse is struck and inhabited by Genesis, a half-demon, half-angelic entity, that enables whatever Jesse says to come true. At first Jesse believes that Genesis is the Word of God since he uses Genesis to make others strengthen their belief in God and forgive Eugene for a past crime. Despite the respect others now hold for Eugene, he confronts Jesse and tells him that his usage of Genesis is not ethical to make others believe in God and commit good deeds as well as forgive Eugene for his mistakes.

I’ve read in more than one place that reading the comics is helpful for enjoying the TV series. Nonetheless, the premise of Preacher can be boiled down to the hypothetical ‘what if everything I said came true’ that one considers at least once during their childhood. Preacher exploits the technicalities of this statement- misunderstanding, can’t hear, etc- that one anticipates through darkly comic, and often bloody, scenarios.

At Preacher’s best, the show is outlandish and contains bizarre violence, but it falls short of this benchmark for the greater majority of its episodes. Preacher is reduced from ‘suspenseful’ to ‘where is this going’ far too often. Yet, long-awaited resolutions to plotlines began perhaps too early in the season arrive during the final episode as does the completion of many character arcs.

There is both the best and the worst in any rural town and Annville is no exception. Nonetheless, much of Preacher heavily stereotypes the South and the town is used as a backdrop for comic relief. The citizens of Annville act as uneducated and tailgate after church; Emily doesn’t close the door when using the bathroom in one scene and doesn’t wash her hands in another (at least she flushed!). In resisting Jesse’s ability to command others with his words, a character decides to shoot his gun near his ear, rupturing his eardrum, rather than simply using earplugs (miraculously, that character seems to be able to hear perfectly fine later on). For Preacher’s periodic aimlessness and Southern humor, it seems that Rogen, Goldberg, and Catlin exhibit a tad carelessness in adapting the drama and story of the comics but abide strongly to its humor.

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