Generally speaking, I am a proponent of slavish adaptations. I allow more wiggle room for adaptations of corporate properties that’ve had decades to accumulate complexities like The F-Lash & Got Ham?, but creator-driven works ought to be presented faithfully. (Why does neither Dirk Gently TV series directly adapt Douglas Adams’s marvelous books? Why is the screenwriter who completely missed the point of I, Robot allowed to bastardize Caves of Steel next?) I thought television would be a better medium for Preacher than film because it wouldn’t need to abridge as much. So I was dismayed to hear that AMC’s Preacher (at least its first season) would be more of a prequel to the comics.
It is fortuitous, however, that I haven’t gotten around to reading the Vertigo (a DC Comics imprint, whose branding is absent from the TV series) Preacher comics by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon yet. I certainly know of them thanks to things like Previews & Wizard Magazine. (Back in my day, we had to wait a whole month between spoilers!) So while diehard fans may take umbrage at the liberties taken with their favorite comic book, I’m enjoying the show as it rolls along. It’s not quite right to call it a prequel. Much like Bryan Fuller’s dearly departed Hannibal, this is more of a remix of various elements from the story. In that sense it’s a truer adaptation than something like iZombie, which took the Vertigo comic’s title & basic idea but none of the characters or supernatural cosmology. It hasn’t been lazily grafted onto a police procedural like Lucifer either. At least this adaptation does, however, feel like it’s in the same ballpark as the source material. So this overview will have more TV SPOILERS than comic book SPOILERS.
For a show with Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg at the helm, it’s classier than expected. Breaking Bad’s Sam Catlin may be partially responsible for this. Of course it’s not too classy that it loses its irreverent flavor. It’s full of striking vistas of southern desolation. The cast is the right ratio of pretty : looks like they’re drawn by Steve Dillon. Overall, it works better than I can imagine Sam Mendes’s aborted movie turning out.
One of the big complaints I’ve heard about the show is its lack of tonal consistency. For all I care, tonal consistency can take a long walk off a short pier! Why would I only want one tone? One of the best parts of Preacher is how nonchalantly it flips from one tone & genre to another. Sure, tonal consistency can have its uses in other art, but it’s got no business being forced upon this genre-bender. Unless it has maintained the consistent tone of “Garth Ennis comic” throughout. Cognitive dissonance for the win!