Top 17 Shows of 2017! #17: Preacher
I'm back with another list! I promise the follow-ups to the already posted lists will be up soon! Until then lets talk about TV!
Genre: Black Comedy, Supernatural
Favorite Episode: "Pig"
Episode Count: 13
Run-Time: 42-65 Min
"The Messiah is a Moron" - Herr Starr
Preacher's first season ended with a promise. In it's second season it delivers on that promise...sort of. With comic-book adaptations there is always a game of chess involved when deciding what to change and what to keep. Seth Rogen, Sam Catlin and Evan Goldberg have done a very good job at keeping the tone and humor of the irreverent source material while stream-lining some of the more complex stories and fleshing out some of the under-told ones. Preachers entire first season was an adaptation of the first issue of the comic, using elements of later stories to grow and expand that very small sliver of time to create a captivating world of bizarre and complex characters. The show then did the unprecedented when the finale brought things back to the comics and set up a pretty major change in both setting and cast for its sophomore season. Before I continue into spoiler territory, I will say; go watch Preacher Season 1 as it is great television.
The show continues to follow Jesse Custer (played by Dominic Cooper), the reformed criminal turned preacher who channels the voice of god like a super-power. Having discovered god is missing from heaven, Jesse decides to embark on a trek to find the man upstairs. Reunited with Jesse are his partner in crime and on-and-off-again ex Tulip O'hare (Played by Ruth Negga),who is now dealing with a ghost from the past come back to haunt her (a figurative ghost, because in this show there could be literal ones!). Rounding out this motley crew is the hedonistic, irreverent, Irish vampire, Cassidy (Played by Joseph Gilgun). Cass is still struggling with his unrequited love for Tulip as well as his commitment to being a friend to Jesse.
Preacher's second season kicks off with the trio hitting the road. The town of Annville, Texas is gone, consumed in a literal shit-storm, taking a majority of the shows cast with it. With Jesse and his friends setting off to quite-literally "Find God", the show plays with the notion of a campy-action-packed road-trip for its first two episodes. While this offers a devilishly fun start, the show quickly slows its pace as the group spend the remainder of the season in New Orleans. I can't help but feel the show would be better served with the cast in constant motion. While I understand budgetary constraints are probably the main hurdle, I cant help but feel like this is a step-backward after last seasons finale.
Fortunately, just because the gang sets down new roots, doesn't mean the show grows stale. Where Preacher's first season flirted with the absurd, season 2 fully embraces the zany-wackiness of the world Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon put on the page. Following the threads set in motion last season, we are quickly reintroduced to the undead-unflappable-unkillable Saint of Killers (Played by Graham McTavish) who is fresh out of Hell and gunning for our crew. Along with the immortal-gunslinger we finally get to see the fate that's befallen the disarmingly sweet Eugene Root (still not quite calling himself "Arse-Face"). While we got to see a glimpse of the Saint's personal hell before, through Eugene (Played by Ian Colleti) we get a look at the bigger picture, and the men behind the machine. While this season offers much in biting-satire, the most absurd comes from Eugene's surprise cellmate in hell; Adolf Hitler.
This shocking choice puts the show on rather thin ice. Showcasing an upsettingly sympathetic characterization for the genocidal maniac, the writers of the show have talked in length about how this characters inclusion is meant to make us question the purpose of hell; if hell is forever, do you eventually begin to grow as a person, and if you do grow into a "better" person is that a good thing to be in hell? These philosophical questions do tie into the larger theme of the show's way of questioning modern views of religion, but ultimately it does feel a bit heavy handed and possibly played mainly for shock-value. Fortunately, this is largely side-stepped due to an excellent performance from Noah
Taylor who gives the despot decidedly more nuance than the role probably deserves.
As if a surprise appearance from histories greatest monster wasn't enough, this season also introduces; arguably, the comics most notorious villain. Herr Starr; the Germanic leader of The Grail, a secret-militarized religious Illuminati that secretly houses the inbred descendant of the messiah. Starr (played by Pip Torrens) offers not only a fabulous foil to Jesse's dedication to religion but also manages to upend just about every Super-Villain trope there is. Starr is melancholy, apathetic and psychotic, a mix that makes for both a terrifyingly imposing figure as well as an over-the-top ridiculous character ripe for comedy. One minute he is relieving himself as a distraction, the next second he's breaking bones. He is truly unlike any other villain on television.
There are plenty of surprises and fantastic character moments in Preachers extended 13 episode second season. With both reoccurring and new cast members getting plenty of time to shine. The show's visual style continues to be a highlight, with gorgeous cinematography and color grading all around. Preacher is if nothing else, one of the best-looking shows on television. I still think Preacher has room to grow and I feel season 2 did just as much to keep it to move it backwards as it did forwards, keeping it just enough in the safe-zone to commend any of its bigger risks. While this back-peddling earned it a lower place on my list I do still strongly recommend watching both seasons if you're a fan of raunchy, dark-comedy or supernatural gore-fests. Preacher has a lot to offer and I do feel it has room to grow and people behind it who are trying to create something unique.
I leave you with the intro to Season 2, which uses the same format and music from its first season but has been updated to match the new setting. It is an incredibly stylish intro and should give you a sense of the visual fidelity put into the show itself.
Preacher's first and second seasons are available wherever digital episodes are sold and it has already been renewed for a 3rd season, set to premiere in 2018.
Thanks for your time and check back soon for my review of #16: Samurai Jack!