AMC’s television adaptation of the classic 90s Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon comic debuted this week. Preacher‘s debut drew “modest ratings” this past Sunday night and trended briefly on Twitter. Is the comic too 90s for adaptation at this point? Did the material, known for being, uh, risqué, translate well from page to screen?
Six WWAC contributors shared their first impressions of the pilot:
Sarah Richardson: Overall, I liked. Yes, plot lines from the comic were not followed: churches were not flattened, congregations not killed (yet?), and a road trip in search of God not embarked upon, but the characters felt well sketched out and the black comedy tone was spot on. Just look at Cassidy tapping that guy before jumping out of the plane. The burnt Texas landscape and silhouette of Custer in all black against the white backdrop of his church both are strong visuals that really sold the Western feel of the story. The fighting choreography was pretty good, although I’m not 100% sold on Dominic Cooper as Custer. Maybe I’m just too used to seeing him as Howard Stark? I will definitely keep watching.
Melinda B. Pierce: I loved going into Preacher not knowing any of the comic background. It was like being blindfolded before going on a roller coaster for the first time. I only had one expectation — that Dominic Cooper’s hair would look awesome the entire time. I’d scanned an article in Entertainment Weekly where Seth Rogen admitted it would be bloody and knowing it was AMC, that meant someone’s head was going to get bashed. Honestly, I’m a little over all the violence in television lately, but anytime there is a comic adaptation, I want to give it a try.
I didn’t expect the heavy southern drawls, and I’m from a family full of heavy southern drawls. Due to heredity hearing loss and dual hearing aids, I always have closed-captioning on anyway, so I didn’t miss any of the dialogue. I think blood and the accents are my only quasi-negatives.
Cooper fills the screen with his broody presence as the sexiest preacher I’ve ever seen. I like that he sucks at his job and knows it, and I appreciate the honesty. Tulip is a breath of fresh air, and although I wouldn’t let her babysit my kids, I can see how she quickly won over the ten year old girl and her brother. She’s awesome. I don’t know what to think about Cassidy yet. Maybe not a total good guy, but not a total bad guy.
From the title, I assumed the show would be Constantine-style demon vanquishing, and I’m glad I’m wrong so far. Like Sarah, I think the fight choreography was good. Anytime a bone breaks through the skin and I’m covering my eyes shrieking “no, no, no”, the fight coordinator and director/editors have done their jobs.
Kelly Kanayama: I LOVED the fight choreography. I kept shouting “OH SHIT” throughout those scenes, which for me is the hallmark of a well-put-together fight. Cassidy on that plane…so much physicality. Hot damn, they do not hold back on the violence at all, but they also bypass the “men being anally penetrated = laffs” motif from the comic, so we have the best of both worlds.
Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy is everything I wanted: the sharp-edged energy, the ease with which brohood gives way to extreme violence, the way he carries himself, the look in his eyes that suggests his bro act is hiding something dangerous. When his face is covered in blood after biting that guy in the neck — oh my God. His accent is hilarious, though. I’ve heard that “Jaysis, whot kinda praycher er yaow?” line multiple times now, and I can’t help laughing every single time.
Ruth Negga as Tulip is distractingly stunning, and her outfits kick ass. Even though it probably isn’t, I want to believe that the crop top/bralet deal is a shout out to her 90s origins. Really enjoyed her scenes with the kids, even though I felt bad for them getting drawn into that world of violence and sort of disturbed by how nonchalant they were about all the dead people outside their house. Those scenes are, hopefully, a sign that portrayals of “strong women” are recognizing how conventional femininity and violence aren’t mutually exclusive.
Dominic Cooper is doing pretty good so far as Jesse. I’ve got no criticisms of his portrayal — it’s just that I’ve never been as big a fan of Jesse Custer the character as other fans of Preacher seem to be.
Hugely into the nods to the comic that pop up in this episode, such as playing “Time of the Preacher” over Jesse’s first appearance, and the silhouette of the Saint of Killers and the Ratwater brand name on the whisky bottles. I’m enjoying the up-to-date tech as well, partially because as soon as I heard that Preacher was coming to TV, I started wondering how the plotlines might be altered with the simple presence of smartphones.
Other thoughts: Eugene (Arseface to comics readers) is a precious angel and I want to shield him from the world. I also want to pour one out for Ted the Cheese Guy. RIP, man.
How am I going to hold out until the next episode?!
Christa Seeley: I also had no knowledge of the comics going in, and I also didn’t read any sort of synopsis before watching the pilot (I just saw ‘comic adaptation’ and decided to give it a shot). And I have to admit I found the whole thing rather confusing. I found it a bit hard to follow and other than Jesse I couldn’t really get a good sense of who these characters are and what they’re doing.
Based on that it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that I thought Jesse was the best part of the episode. I thought Dominic Cooper’s performance was spot on – he was both emotionally damaged and a psycho badass. He’s made me curious enough to keep watching for now, despite my lukewarm feelings towards the pilot.
Ardo Omer: I had ZERO information before going into this show. I hadn’t planned on watching it but it was on and I thought, “why not?” I LOVED it. It started slow but I stuck with it because I love Dominic Cooper. It won me over with that first Tulip scene with my girl, Ruth Negga, and I was hooked. I’d love to see more. It feels like there’ll be a lot of violence with engaging characters and I’m all for the weird.
Kate Tanski: I also went in not knowing anything about the comic, and predisposed to liking Dominic Cooper. I was very confused for most of it. The scenes I liked best were, not surprisingly, the scenes with Dominic Cooper, and a lot of that was because the majority of those scenes had zero violence, or tangential violence.
Not knowing the characters, or the storylines, or even the genre of the show, I was totally taken by surprise by the airplane scene. As a whole, the show feels very disjointed. You have this Small Town, Texas narrative juxtaposed with scenes of extreme supernatural violence. It feels very Walking Dead to me, and not in a good way. There’s a reason I don’t watch that show. I was hoping for something different, but what I see is shock value, and despite the incredible performances by Cooper and Ruth Negga as Tulip, I’m disappointed, and not sure I’ll continue to watch.