Monday, May 23, 2016

On The Air: Preacher (2016)

The good news for comics fans is that Preacher, based on the Vertigo series created by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon, is the 4th series from DC's mature readers imprint, after Constantine, iZombie, & Lucifer, to be adapted for television. The bad news? It's not being handled by Warner Bros..

Instead, Sony Pictures Television acquired the rights to the series, which launched last night on AMC. After the pilot is encored next weekend, the final nine episodes will begin unspooling on June 5, meaning it'll wrap in plenty of time for the return of Fear The Walking Dead, which is set to return in August after a 2 1/2 month break.

Comedian Seth Rogen, whose latest film, "Neighbors 2", opened on Friday, serves as co-executive producer and co-director, and appears briefly in a short commercial parody of Walt Disney to promote his next film, "Sausage Party", also due in August. Is his take on the mid-90's comic book spot on? Nope.

Oh, there's plenty of splatter to be had in the opener, which begins with a preacher in Africa exploding right in front of his congregation after being possessed by an otherworldly being. Rogen and Evan Goldberg have a little fun with that later on, as a television news report claims that Tom Cruise, the world's biggest supporter of the faux religion Scientology, also explodes. There are a lot of folks who probably are wishing that could actually happen, but.....!

Anyway, the focus of the show is the titular pastor, Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper, ex-Agent Carter), who has returned to Annville, Texas, ostensibly to save the town. His allies are his ex-girlfriend, Tulip O'Hare, and an Irish vampire, Cassidy. And, then, there is a young, disfigured fellow, known in the comics as Arseface after a botched suicide attempt left him with a severe speech impediment. Problem here, though, is that while Arseface, after being introduced in the books as an antagonist for Jesse, is actually the preacher's friend in the opener. Not only that, but it seems the subtitles aren't needed, as you can hear Arseface speak very clearly. He supposedly isn't able to do that in the book, requiring subtitles in the footnotes in every panel he appears in. I should know. I read a few issues. Well, you can't have everything work exactly the way it's supposed to. It never does in Hollywood.

Additionally, and this is for those who read the entire Preacher series, which lasted nearly 5 1/2 years of monthly publication, Tulip is the latest character to be racially flipped from white to African American. Par for the course for Hollywood these days. There aren't that many African Americans of Irish background, so maybe that's the angle that Rogen & Goldberg were using here.

AMC's YouTube channel provides a sneak peek:

How WB let this one slip through their corporate fingers, I'll never know. What I do know is that there is room for improvement. We'll just see how this plays out between now and July 31, which figures to be the night of the season finale.

Rating: B.

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