Preacher Season 1 Review
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Is Dominic Cooper able to lead a gritty, stylised comic book TV Show? Is DC able to present a TV Show outside of their main superhero series? Does the wacky tone of the comics transfer well to TV? How is Seth Rogen’s direction? Here’s my review of Preacher’s first Season:
- The acting for the most part is particularly good, especially when considering the show’s often bizarre humour and nature. Ruth Negga is a stand out in her role of Tulip, perfectly harnessing the characters wit and passion for Jesse while still making sure she comes across as vengeful.
- Graham McTavish’s Saint of Killers lacked screen time but was easily one of the most intriguing characters due to his obvious skill as well as the mystery surrounding him. But most of all McTavish brought an eerie, deliberating intelligence to the character, being able to develop the character’s morality over a short amount of time and highlight his constant thought process.
- Jackie Earle Harvey also didn’t have a lot of screen time, but the brutality of his character and his obvious lack of morals allowed Harvey to channel his background in horror and absurdity to present a riveting performance.
- Due to the nature of the series and its genre bending basis, ‘Preacher’ had some very unique and original sequences that were able to balance their bizarre premise with the narrative. This is obviously originated from the comics, but the science fiction elements for the most part were nicely realised on-screen. The tone of the show however, was another story…
- The friendship between Cassidy and Jesse was nicely developed and never came across as brash or forced, however, more screen time could have supported Cassidy’s concern for Jesse’s powers.
- Flashbacks provided depth to the relationship between Tulip and Jesse and were well utilised in setting up the conflict they found themselves within. This did a lot to inform the audience why the characters were acting the way they were to each other.
- Jesse’s search for redemption, his yearning for power, and his morality were the best aspects about the character. When the show provided him with new content he was used well as a characterisation of themes, especially in consideration of his background and the flashbacks which showed his experience as a child.
- The banter and dialogue between the two angels was well written and differentiated them from other similar characters from other shows and films. They were not perfect at their jobs and the presentation of this made them more relatable and comedic. It was nice to see the character’s intentions change throughout the series rather than be sterotypical henchmen like characters.
- The show’s mythology was rich and a great use of exposition in some episodes made it easy to understand and follow.
- There were a number of absolutely stunning action sequences (particularly the church and motel scenes) that married realism with each character’s powers through strong direction, visual effects and cinematography.
- Preacher was a mess tonally, with its unqiue style and approach to situations often becoming jumbled and was never realised in a meaningful manner.
- I felt the show tried too hard to have an underscore of black comedy. It came across as forced, and though there were times it did succeed, it missed more than it hit.
- The show never really had a focus, especially in the first few episodes where the pace was all over the place with the writing not sure if it wanted to spend the time developing Jesse or the supporting characters, meaning for a long time none of the characters stood out with intruging potential arcs.
- As noted, Jesse became lost characteristically over the course of the series, never settling into any type of protagonist. While this type of confused heroism can be portrayed well, the script was unable to clearly highlight Jesse’s mind set or identity.
- Another consequence of the script having little focus or understanding of its end game is in the shows structural incoherency. This is most obvious in the first few episodes, where sequences didn’t gel together and some characters were given too much screen time or not enough. As ‘Preacher’ finally decided on its primary storyline, this became less of a concern.
- There was too much set up and mixed messages regarding some of the characters, especially Jesse and Root, who were often undecipherable in their motivations and intentions. While some climax came for Jesse, Root remained a poorly utilised character throughout and didn’t have a big enough influence upon the plot.
- Jesse’s use of his powers were incredibly inconsistent. While some episodes showed him using them way too much to the point where it became laughable, other episodes lacked any use and one could question if Jesse had simply forgot he had them.
- While the messages about faith, heroism and religion became clearer as the show continued, much of it contrasted in tone, jumping between violent realism and bizarre silliness emphasised by poor comedic choices.
- Many of the later episodes became repetitive, drawing upon the same ideas or simply moving characters around the board. This is especially related to Tulip, a character with a purpose, but not given the opportunities to fight for it.
- I am still incredibly confused about Emily. Not only did the character seem to switch between being philosophical to dumb, but she was a boring romantic pairing with Jesse, especially when considering Tulip’s yearning for attention and intriguing nature.
- Arseface could have been a powerful character thematically, and his relationship with Jesse was at times touching, but like his father he was never properly utilised and his plot became repetitive, not having a proper effect on the main story.
- Mayor Person was a stereotypical character that again never fitted in tone. His type of humour and his lack of meaningful contributions meant he felt forced upon the story.
- The ending was incredibly shocking for the simple fact that it made much of what occurred over the ten episodes irrelevant, especially the character development (or lack of) for some of the supporting characters and many of the romantic subplots. It felt as if the writers knew how boring their characters were and the only way to fix it was to kill them all off.
- Emily killing the Mayor felt completely underdeveloped. I can see what the writers were building up to with some of her development, but still it was too soon for that sort of twist in character.