Today we’re ecstatic have Robert Schwabe of NerdyRamblings.com come in and guest blog for us. Seriosuly folks, you’ll be hard pressed to come across more in-depth and insightful Preacher episode coverage online than that posted by Robert on his website. After this, why not swing by Nerdy Ramblings and check it out for yourself, and while your at it, perhaps you would be so kind as to pester him to no end on his Twitter account to write for us permanently (we’d owe you one…)
Hi everyone. My name is Robert and I’m guest posting here on Welcome to Annville. I’ve got my own gig at nerdyramblings.com, but Dave was kind enough to invite me to post here every once in a while to talk all things Preacher.
I’m a Preacher fan from way back, as I was a huge fan of the original comic book back in the 1990’s. I don’t say that to brag, but just so anyone knows where I’m coming from.
So this post is about the Preacher television show. We’re 4 episodes in (or 3 episodes plus the pilot, if you want to count it that way), and I think that we can certainly take a barometer view of what about the series has worked really well and what has not worked as well.
So find yourself a church pew, and settle in for my testimony.
5 things that work in Preacher
Let’s start with the positive. These are the five things that I think work best in Preacher.
Now, Cassidy is one of the easiest things in Preacher to make work. He’s the one character whose whole purpose is to crack jokes, have funny Irish sayings, does whatever he wants, and can kill people who annoy him.
That being said, I’ve seen television series that get these types of characters wrong with bad writing or bad casting.(Hey basketball players sometimes miss easy lay-ups) I think Joseph Gilgun is a hell of a find, the right combination of menace and fun. And they’ve written the best lines for him. So this is definitely a win.
- Eugene “Arseface” Root
It would be so easy to screw up Arseface. To simply have a dumb character with a face that looks like an arse. In the comic book Arseface was not only comic relief, but also he had a purely innocent heart of gold. This show has captured that 100% and even built upon it to develop the character even further. He now is playing a version of Shakespeare’s fool, the one who can tell the king, or in this case the Preacher, what everyone knows but is afraid to say.
- Tulip is different from the comic book, in the right ways
I am not sure that Tulip works as a character completely, as I have some issues with how she and the other women in the show are presented.
But, I want to give credit where credit is due. The creative team chose the more difficult road in making Tulip into the character we see on the screen, rather than the girl in the comic book who is the outspoken girlfriend of Jesse Custer. The fiery and resourceful young black woman who drives into town in a fast car with trouble and mayhem on her heels is a lot of fun. I want to see more of what makes Tulip tick, but what I see I like.
- Jackie Earl Haley
When Odin Quincannon was introduced in the Preacher comic book, we had already had a collection of disturbing bad guys, from Grandma, Jodie, Herr Starr, Allfather D’Aronique, and The Saint of Killers. Odin came in as a ridiculous powerful stereotypical southerner with thick glasses, short-man’s disease, and a disturbing fetish for meat. You never took him seriously as a threat, but it was fun for almost a year for Jesse to go against someone you weren’t rooting for, at all.
Jackie Earl Haley has taken the character of Odin Quincannon, and completely transformed him into the villain of the first season of Preacher. A disgusting man who cares only about he and his. Who fully believes that dominance and fear are the main qualities to have in life. The writers have crafted him excellently, and Haley has made him terrifying.
- Visual storytelling
This show has done a remarkable job of telling us things about the town of Annville without actually giving a single clue in dialog or it being a plot point.
- The town of Annville is rather poor. No one has really said anything about it, but there’s definitely the sense that the town is going in the wrong direction, financially.
- Very traditional values when it comes to women. I mean no one has specifically been abused, but you can see with the camera angles, and the looks the male characters give each other, that the women are not taken seriously.
- Emily pining for Jesse Custer. Not a single word has been spoken about Emily having feelings for Jesse, but yet if you’re looking for the signs, they are very prominent.
5 things that don’t work in Preacher
Well, there’s always two sides, right. So here are the top 5 things that I don’t think really work in Preacher.
- The many faces of Jesse Custer
It’s not that Jesse Custer doesn’t work. He does. I like Preacher Jesse Custer, I like ex-gangster Jesse Custer, I like bro-Jesse Custer who drinks too much and hangs out with Cassidy, and I even like on-the-fence Jesse Custer, being pulled in both directions by the two women in his life, Emily and Tulip O’Hare.
What I don’t think works is the transition between them. I don’t buy that they’re the same character. The person who beats up Donnie in the bar does not seem like the same person who is doubtful that God’s presence is there anymore. To me Dominic Cooper is playing two characters that dress the same, talk the same, and wear their hair in the same way, but they’re not the same person. So, it sticks out to me as not working.
- Jesse and Tulip as a couple
Through many of Tulip’s conversations, you get the sense that Jesse and her were an item at one point in time, even if that was just sex buddies. But their interactions with each other, both verbally and non-verbally, are not that of former lovers. They act like former friends, certainly, and maybe even friends who hooked up one night, but not that of lovers and definitely not two people who were in love with each other (though I can buy that Tulip was in love with Jesse but never actually told him).
Now, in the comic books, Tulip was the love of Jesse’s life, and he was going to ask her to marry him before he was forced to leave her. The relationship between Tulip and Jesse in the show is definitely is not that. It doesn’t need to be, but if the show tries to tell me later that these two are madly in love, then I don’t buy their interactions as of now. So, maybe I’m putting too much comic book into the series, but their relationship doesn’t work for me now.
- The women of Preacher
Aside from Miss Priscilla-Jean Henrietta O’Hare (and maybe Dany), the women of the world of Preacher have really been diminished by the story. I mean you don’t have to be a card-carrying feminist to see that pretty much every other woman in the show has been depicted as a mother or a whore (and whatever strange combination that Betsy is).
I could almost leave this one alone, because of Emily. Okay, here’s a woman who is working two jobs as a church assistant and a waitress while raising three kids as a single mom. She has strong opinions about how the church should be run, and is a strong character. But then in episode 4, Monster Swamp, where she spends half her time staring at Jesse with admiring big doe eyes, and the other treating Miles like crap and having sex with him, just because. I mean I’ve heard of sex buddies before, but sex enemies?
Add it all up, and I really don’t think of how the women are depicted in the show works.
- The All Saints Congregational church
Well, I’m not talking about the church itself, but rather the members of the church. For people who seem to be regular church-goers, it certainly doesn’t seem like they know much about the church in the first place. From Linus talking to Jesse when giving his confession. It sounded more like he was talking to a lawyer or a psychologist than a preacher. Then, the whole baptism scene seemed like Jesse was a missionary visiting a non-Christian village. And then, even the church services make it seem like everyone just piles into the church on Sunday to hear Jesse say a sermon and then they leave, with no hymns, no scripture reading, no testimonies, and no daily devotions or prayers.
I’m not church devotee, but if they’re making Jesse’s profession into a major part of his character, then I need to believe the church, and I just don’t yet.
- Jesse’s father
One major difference between Jesse Custer from the comic book and the television show is who his father was. In the comic book, John Custer was a former solider who fought in Vietnam and who taught Jesse values through the movies of John Wayne. In the show, John Custer is a quiet, reserved, and emotionally distant man, who was the preacher of the All Saints Congregational church in the 1980s.
Jesse’s father gets killed in both versions when Jesse was a boy, and in both cases imparts on Jesse to be one of the good guys. But, there is nothing behind those words in the television show. As if the promise of a 10 year old boy to his dead father is enough by itself to make Jesse who he is. I don’t see a man that Jesse respects or even likes very much. So I don’t see how, as of now, that John Custer is such a major influence on Jesse’s life to make him return to Annville, Texas. So it doesn’t work for me.
So anyway, those are my thoughts. Agree? Disagree? Let me know. Comment below or contact me on twitter (https://twitter.com/rjschwabe).