Preacher: Season 1
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Preacher: Season 1

Among the numerous sources of material used to create movies and televisions series one of the most fertile are graphic novels. Some may insist on referring to them as comic books, but that is inaccurate on numerous levels. First of all, many of us can readily recall comic books costing a dime, of our outrage when the price increased to twelve cents. The typical graphic can set the enthusiast back by up to $20. Of course, that is superficial compared to the most significant difference. The target audience of the graphic novels is considerably older than that of comics. By permitting the exploration pf physiologically intense and emotionally complex themes. Topics inconceivable in many other forms of entertainment routinely are examined in this visually creative format. The cable network, AMC has gained a well-deserved reputation for producing some if the highest quality shows in recent years. With a track record that includes such culturally significant shows as ‘Breaking Bad,' ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Mad Men.' The latest addition to this illustrious lineage is the show under consideration, ‘Preacher.' Published by DC Comic and created by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon later developed for cable by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, and Sam Catlin. The premise is relatively simple. A broken down son of a preacher stumbles along in his father’s footsteps as a preacher in an old church near a small town in Texas. The first season’s story unfolded over the course of ten episodes in a surrealistic take on redemption. The considerable success of this show is due substantially to its ability to remain grounded in relatable emotions no matter how bizarre the circumstances and characters might become. The darkly humorous presentation is confident to immediately pull you in keeping you mesmerized anxiously awaiting waiting what happens next.

The series begins with an event that informs the audience that the foundation of the following story would combine several distinct genres. Considering the title and the extraterrestrial event we already can be sure science fiction has collided with religion. Include the penchant for violence integral to graphic novels there is a distinct chance of excessive violence to be a strong aspect of what is to follow. The entity that traveled the expansive void enters into a preacher in Africa, resulting in his exploding moving on with similar drastic results among a group of Satanists and a gathering of Scientologists. Finally, a far less fatal occurrence brings it to heavy smoking, broken down a man with silver tips on the collar of his black shirt and an out of place clerical collar. The man is Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), the titular preacher. He has been barely able to hold the church together with the help of his loyal assistant, Emily Woodrow (Lucy Griffiths), a young mother who handles most of the routine business of the church. The inhabitation of Jesse by this entity is instantly apparent as the catalyst for the collective events of the story.

Jesse had lost the modicum of faith that sustained bringing him to the precipice of tossing in his collar when a sharp reminder of his dark and sordid past, Tulip O'Hare (Ruth Negga). She is a tiny frame but of exceeding overpowering attitude. Tulip and Jesse have a past full of mostly illegal misadventures, but as will be revealed with impeccable pacing, their relationships extend back to their turbulent childhood. Since the beginning, Tulip has been a lightning rod for trouble with Jesse, her willing collaborator. Jesse is an archetypical anti-hero about to turn his back completely from the church when Tulip returned with the proverbial "last big score." Then the effect of his strange encounter becomes manifested; Jesse can use his voice coerces people into doing whatever he commands. While some selfish applications of this newfound ability flash through Jesse’s mind, he quickly realizes the beneficial effect it can have on his congregation. Much to Emily’s amazement Jesses begins to exhibit a genuine interest in the church. The Evangelical furor has gripped Jesse that culminates with him asking the most powerful, obnoxious unbeliever in the county to church, Odin Quincannon (Jackie Earle Haley). Jesse bets he can change the man risking the church property to demonstrate the strength of his convictions. For fans of science fiction, Jesse’s power is like ‘the Voice’ ’in ‘Dune,' irresistible. During the service, Jesses use it on a skeptical Quincannon, and amazingly the man promises in front of everyone to serve God. Attendance skyrockets and Jesses continue to use his ability to help his flock.

The town has some strange people as residents each with an original backstory, proving the overall show with an undeniable texture and nuance adding to its appeal. Sheriff Hugo Root (W. Earl Brown) tries his best to keep the peace and usually the townsfolk oblige but recently strange things have begun to disrupt that tranquility. At home, Root has his concerns mostly with his son, Eugene (Ian Colletti). As a result of a murder/suicide pact gone wrong both the young lovers survived, ‘kind of.' The girl has been in a vegetative state since the incidence while Eugene was left profoundly disfigured, his lower jaw blows off leaving his face permanently puckered. He can only consume his food blended, through a straw. The townsfolk cruelly call, ‘Arseface. The changes at first were violent with Jesse responding to taunting by beating one of Quincannon’s men to a pulp. By visualizing the conflicted mindset of Jesse, the writers were able to establish the dichotomy battling within Jesse, literally good versus evil.

It turns out Jesse was infected a half-demon, half-angelic creature named Genesis. Charged with guarding it are a pair of Adelphi angels, Fiore (Tom Brooke) and DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef). Although if killed they can immediately return, albeit in bodies identical to the recently dead. It is darkly comical and confusing when the room littered with dead versions of the angels while revived pairs keep arriving. They are the most inept angels ever portrayed. This Mutt and Jeff team are bungling misfits that are frightened of receiving a call from ‘up there’ via a device that looks as if it came from a steampunk convention. They are desperate for Jesse to relinquish Genesis. Otherwise, they will painfully take it. They need to return Genesis to its containment vessel, a dented, rusty, old coffee can. There is an element of the absurd infused within the story through many plot points like this, but this example stands out. The supernatural makes another appearance with someone who befriends Jesses, Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), and an Irish vampire. He was a member of the Irish Volunteers and took part in the Easter Rising of 1916. He is slight of build but thanks to preternatural vampiric strength, reflexes and rapid healing he is formidable in a fight. He moves into the church as an ad hoc caretaker much to the chagrin of Emily. Cassidy will burst into flame when exposed to direct sunlight, so he typically is grabbed in a silk robe, sunglasses, and an Asian conical hat. As if Jesses doesn’t have enough troubles there is a celestial bounty hunter after him, The Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish), frequently referred to simply as ‘The Cowboy.' Imbued with near god-like powers his mission is to eliminate Jesse.

A straightforward synopsis of this series can easily come across as disjointed, a story in search of a cohesive narrative. Nothing could be further from the truth. The overall story is powerfully crafted containing a myriad of finely detailed characters placed in the most peculiar circumstances possible. The blending of so many genres handled so stylishly that potential chaos became a synergistic marvel of entertainment. Despite the almost overwhelming fantasy permeating the series the emotional impact consistently remained grounded and relatable. A man caught between the eternal struggle between wanting to do what is right while needing to act evil. The Genesis was born from a mating between the penultimate of both extremes, angel, and demon. While being chased by representatives of the supernatural Jesse must contend with mortal influences including the greed Quincannon and the common temptation of Tulip tests the resolve even of a man with unworldly abilities. Thankfully AMC has renewed this show and considering their stellar reputation we are likely to have another mega hit.

Posted 10/09/2016

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