Monday, SXSW premiered the first episode of Preacher, the new 10-episode series airing on AMC later this year. Starring Dominic Cooper as the title character, Jesse Custer, and Ruth Negga and Joe Gilgun as Tulip and Cassidy, the show clearly pleased audiences with its action-packed hour. Part of the audible excitement may be flashing “TEXAS” on screen to an audience in Austin, but after the show, everyong seemed to have bought in. Despite taking 10 years to bring the project to screen, producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have the perfect interpretation and era to bring this comic to life. While reviews will have to wait for the premiere of the show, based on what we’ve seen and heard, here are some reasons to add this title to your DVR.
6. It’s legitimately funny
Dark, yes, but the show’s balancing act between violence, character-driven drama, and black humor is perfectly carried off. When it goes for jokes, they hit hard and are laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s even more impressive that they manage to do this without decreasing the impact of the violence (and the show can be pretty darn bloody) and authentic, emotional drama. The show will certainly receive comparisons to Deadpool, but the show seems closer to Netflix’s Daredevil/Jessica Jones series.
5. Rectify and Justified were just canceled
Are you missing that awesome three season drama Rectify as much as I am? Are you even aware there’s a show called Rectify? Well, with Rectify‘s cancelation, any show with an interest in exploring the role of religion and faith in American culture as serious and complicated is worth consideration. The pilot didn’t delve that much into the subject of the Preacher’s faith but introduced enough to make me interested in where it can go, and with 2015’s cancelation of Justified, Preacher takes up the western reins like a champ. Garth Ennis’s original was influenced by westerns like Unforgiven, and the TV adaptation seems to be drawing from the same influences.
4. Dominic Cooper’s is finally a leading man!
Personally, I’ve loved Dominic Cooper since he played a teenager in History Boys (at 25!), and he’s been doing excellent work ever since. There have been roles that put him forward as a leading man (Devil’s Double), but usually, he’s the dependable character actor in supporting roles, sometimes the very best thing in them (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Dracula Untold). But personally, his work with Marvel as Howard Stark made me realize how much I want to see him take on a leading role and really get to play, and Jesse Custer is the perfect fit for Cooper’s specific style. Despite his subtlety, after an hour, his slow-burning character in a perpetual drunken stupor suggests he’s just built up a character who has to last and reveal more and more over ten hours.
3. They aren’t even close to done
That might sound like bad news, but in cable, that isn’t the case. Usually, a full series for cable has to be shot before the producers show their first episodes to audiences, and if they get everything right immediately, that can be great, but few shows are firing on all cylinders from the very start. Most shows benefit from feedback and adjusting during production, so I’m optimistic that they’re just now filming the first season and already showing the pilot to the public (not just critics and production executives). This gives them time to make adjustments before having all the episodes ready, and the fact that their pilot gets so much right makes me think they’re definitely on the right track.
2. They have a five year plan for this show
Television has limited budgets, and despite the comic’s narrative, the first season will apparently be focused on the town in Texas. That might disappoint some, because the comic travels quite a bit. The good news for comic fans is Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg seem to be using TV restrictions to their advantage. Rather than trying to travel on-screen on the cheap, their hope for multiple seasons means they hope to eventually get to all the locations. This is good for two big reasons: First, I’m totally interested in seeing more of the small town Jesse grew up in and now leads as the town’s preacher (especially their rival big box church), and second, that means they’re considering how television effects their storytelling, rather than trying to be as close to the original source material as possible. The medium matters, and the pilot of Preacher is exactly the storytelling method needed for a cable series.
- Ruth Negga and Joe Gilgun
By far the two biggest reactions the pilot received were with the introduction of Cassidy and Tulip. Even seeing and hearing Gilgun talk about the show on stage after the screening makes you think he was born to play the role, enthusiastically talking and telling jokes (and only one to “accidentally” give spoilers), only to eventually ask what the original question was. Gilgun in person has an X-rated Looney Tunes quality that makes him charming and dangerous on screen—a perfect fit for an Irish Vampire with addictions. Negga (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) absolutely nails the tone and humor of her character, Tulip, including some palatable chemistry between herself and Cooper. Despite the fandom surrounding the comic, I didn’t hear or read about any diehard fans questioning the casting of Negga for not having a physical resemblance. In fact, there was such a big round of applause after her action-packed introduction that the claps drowned out some dialogue during the next scene…offering me another reason to watch the pilot again when it airs on AMC this spring.
(image via AMC)
Lesley Coffin is a New York transplant from the midwest. She is the New York-based writer/podcast editor for Filmoria and film contributor at The Interrobang. When not doing that, she’s writing books on classic Hollywood, including Lew Ayres: Hollywood’s Conscientious Objector and her new book Hitchcock’s Stars: Alfred Hitchcock and the Hollywood Studio System.
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