Preacher: The Un-Gospel “Truth”

Preacher, the latest original offering from AMC, is based on the graphic novel series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon (who also serve as co-producers on the series). I was fortunate enough to watch the pilot with someone who had read the comic, and it was because of that I at least had some idea of what was going on and who people were. A whole lot happens in the pilot, but not much in the way of exposition.

The show opens with a flash of a comet-like light blasting through the galaxy. We see a poor church in Africa, with a preacher delivering a good, solid Bible based message. Then the comet-like light swoops in, and before you can say ‘I am a prophet’, the preacher explodes. We’re then taken to a small town in Texas, where Jesse, a man with a shady past and no skill at all with the Bible, is the acting Preacher. The Preacher has some strange friends including Tulip, who is nowhere near as delicate as her name; Eugene, whose face resembles a rather unfortunate body part, and Cassidy, an Irish vampire whose brogue is so thick even Jesse has to ask him what he is saying. That these good folk are converging on this Preacher is not a good sign; as much as he wants to be a normal person, it rapidly appears that normal is not a word used frequently in Jesse’s world.

The show was developed by Seth Rogen, who is a huge fan of the comic book series. There are also a good deal of Rogen-like laughs, as when the next ‘preacher’ hit by the mysterious comet is head of a Satanic church (“His brains were all over me! His brains!”), and listen closely to a news broadcast in the background of the bar scene for another ‘church leader’ who explodes (hint: it’s a great loss to acting, too). My favorite part was Tulip’s idea of arts and crafts and the glee with which her two young protégés participate.

Don’t worry if none of this makes sense. It’s endearing in its own twisted way, and there are enough lures out to bring a viewer back for more, even without help from someone who knows the comic. Like most shows on cable these days the violence can be over the top, but it is offset by the subtle humor. It’s a fun show for sophisticated viewers, and I am already chomping at the bit for episode 2.

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