AMC’s drama series Breaking Bad and Mad Men are now part of the pantheon of iconic TV shows, and before the CW scored a big hit with its ongoing Arrow series, the basic cable outlet’s adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s comic book The Walking Dead proved that a mature rendering of a comic for episodic television could be hugely successful and wildly popular, pleasing fans of the original property while drawing in new audiences.
The confirmation that the beloved Preacher series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon would be adapted for AMC was welcome news for fans who dreaded the notion of the comic’s sprawling, epic story squeezed into a two-hour movie. The fact that the show will have Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (This Is the End) executive producing gave fans pause, however. Rogen and Goldberg are sharp, funny writers (see: Superbad and Pineapple Express), but their single attempt to date of adapting a comic book property was 2011’s much-loathed The Green Hornet.
Still, the showrunner is veteran Breaking Bad producer Sam Catlin, with Rogen and Goldberg promising to stick to the original comic book story as much as possible. What’s the story? Very simply, it follows a preacher named Jesse Custer, who hooks up with his old flame Tulip and a party-animal Irish vampire named Cassidy in an attempt to track down God, who has abandoned Heaven in the wake of the formation of the Genesis entity, an all-powerful offspring of an angel and a demon.
Given that changes between the original property and the final product are to be expected in an adaptation, what kind of changes are in story for AMC’s Preacher? Seth Rogen recently spoke to /Film while promoting his upcoming comedy Neighbors and offered updates on a number of projects. When it comes to Preacher, Rogen said:
Me and Evan are writing it write now with the help of Sam Catlin and we’ve come up with a lot of incredibly crazy ideas. [Laughs] It’s a fun thing to riff on and talk about. We’re definitely trying to expand on some of the ideas in the comic and make it that…we love most of the main cornerstones of the comic but we’re trying to make it that even if you’ve read the comic you should not know exactly what to expect from the TV show.
With The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones taking a number of liberties with their source material – sometimes to the show’s benefit, sometimes not – it’s not surprising to hear Rogen talking about diverging from the Preacher comic books, but hardcore fans may not be quite as forgiving in this case.
The over-arcing storyline is episodic in nature and sees Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy through a series of adventures involving Jesse’s insane, psychotic grandmother, an unstoppable reanimated Old West gunfighter called the Saint of Killers, a secret organization devoted to maintaining the bloodline of Jesus Christ called the Grail, and a serial killer called the “Reaver-Cleaver.”
Preacher is a sometimes-unwieldy but deeply entertaining mashup of Southern Gothic tropes, grand guignol-style violence and sexuality, and heady explorations of good vs. evil, Heaven vs. Hell, and the meanings of friendship and loyalty.
Rogen and Goldberg proved surprisingly adept at tackling some similar themes in This Is the End, which was better than most people were expecting (read our review here), so certain changes to the material might be needed… or we could have a long-form Green Hornet on our hands.
We’ll have a better idea of Rogen and Goldberg’s vision for the show when more information – such as the show’s casting – emerges.
Preacher is in development and will air on AMC.