I think we are all familiar with the on-and-off again production history of Preacher. Depending on who you talk to, attempts have been made to turn this comic into a moving picture starting anywhere from ten to a thousand years ago. For all the business reasons it continued to fail to make it to a screen; until now. That’s right, we all finally get to see a live-action Preacher. Thanks to Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the long awaited Preacher series will debut on AMC.
Firstly, this Preacher is different from the comic. Granted, I haven’t read the source material in over a decade but from memory the pilot of Preacher diverts pretty heavily from the narrative laid forward in the comic. This is not a bad thing, mostly because the important thematic source of Preacher seems as faithful as ever. While the narrative seems to unwrap in a totally new way, the characters and the tone seems spot on. This is positive on two fronts, one: it keeps the story fresh for both newcomers and long-time fans, two: the craziness that was the original Preacher is still intact and faithful in spirit. This means, an audience will most likely get to have their Preacher cake and eat it too.
Secondly, this has been touted as Rogen and Goldberg’s departure from true comedy. After seeing the pilot, I think I disagree with this. Yes, this is darker source material than we are used to seeing this duo tackle. There is violence, crises of faith, and all around despicable behavior, but there are also lots and lots of jokes. Readers of the comic will remember that sardonic tone and be pleased with this version, but the more general audience may be surprised with how much humor is here.
Lastly, we should all be thankful that this is a series. If we are honest, trying to fit the gigantic universe and narrative arc of Preacher into an hour-and-a-half running time would have probably ended in a terrible story. The pilot itself barely manages to get through the “origin” story in the time a lean feature film would be staring it’s climactic finish. Considering the troubled production past of Preacher, a sequel to a stand alone film is also a spotty proposition. So be thankful that AMC picked up this story and that we’re guaranteed, at the very least, a season long narrative arc.
So while it’s hard to judge anything on a fraction of its potential content, the pilot of Preacher shows enough promise for both long time fans and newcomers that we should all be thankful all those productions of yesteryear fell through. Let’s just hope we have plenty of quality Preacher in our future.