“God is dead.”
In three words, Friedrich Nietzsche declared the end of the almighty. In AMC’s upcoming and hotly anticipated new drama, Preacher, the protagonist strives to fulfill Nietzsche’s vision. In short, Preacher is a comic-book-turned-TV series about killing God. For the American Movie Channel, whose scripted dramas are founded on such phenomena as Breaking Bad and Mad Men, these will be their highest stakes to date.
Premiering on May 22, you have several weeks to check out the source material and gear up for the release of what will surely be cable television's most graphic, scandalous and shocking material. You'll never see this kind of preacher in the pulpit. We hope.
Here are the 10 Reasons To Be Excited For Preacher.
10 it's Based off a great Comic series
Irish-born writers seem genetically imbued with a quick wit. When Northern Irish expat Garth Ennis created Preacher in the 1990s with writing partner Steve Dillon, he poured his creative penchant for cynicism, violence, revenge, the supernatural and religious iconoclasm into the story. Ennis hangs his hat on Rev. Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), a converted criminal who hides his violent past behind his clergyman cloth. Now the eponymous preacher at his hometown of Annville, Texas, Custer proves less effective as a church leader and more comfortable breaking bones.
He won’t be behind the pulpit for long, however, as his ex-girlfriend and partner in crime, Tulip (Ruth Negga), comes to town with one hell of an agenda. A hard-drinking Irish vampire, Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), also makes his way to Annville after a visceral killfest at 30,000 feet. It takes a lot of chutzpah to build a story around tracking down and killing God, perhaps even more guts for AMC to put that plot on national television. Comic book adaptations run the risk of upsetting loyal readers via inaccurate or abridged portrayals, but according to the recent reactions out of the SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, Preacher upholds the word of Garth Ennis.
9 Extreme Genre-Blending
Over the last ten years, TV and movies have grown increasingly comfortable with depictions of violence. When combined with our cultural fascination with the supernatural, series like True Blood result. Vampires in particular have fed teenaged fantasies since Twilight redefined their expectations for “commitment.”
When Preacher airs its few first episodes, audiences will get a little bit of everything. There’s something raw and gritty about southern-set shows, like True Blood, True Detective and other top-billed programs have illustrated. Preacher capitalizes on the sub-Mason Dixon lineage and uses Texas as a melting pot for characters seemingly taken from Quentin Tarantino’s B-sides. If it adheres to Ennis and Dillon’s original themes, then Preacher will have something for everyone: the threat of global apocalypse, heavy religious themes and exploration, vampires, breakneck violence and more.
8 it's Produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Since making a name for themselves with Superbad, the writing and directing duo had their hearts set on Preacher. This hotly contested property has passed through directors Sam Mendes and Mark Steven Johnson, who pitched his pilot version to HBO. Home Box Office humbly bowed out, balking at the extreme subject matter. How ironic, then, that some of Hollywood’s most prolific comedic creators have turned to comic book adaptations of the highest and most progressive order.
Rogen and Goldberg grew up on reading the comics, devouring them as they were published throughout the ‘90s. Fans of Ennis’ work can trust that they will strike the balance between respecting the source material while strengthening its narrative unity on television. After all, Rogen and Goldberg didn’t make a miniseries. They’re hoping to create a cultural phenomenon that rides off into the sunset five or six seasons later.
7 the showrunner is a breaking bad veteran
How do you follow-up a groundbreaking show like Breaking Bad? Sam Catlin’s enthusiasm for Preacher is perhaps the show’s highest endorsement. In recent interviews, Catlin has acknowledged the key differences between both stories, though he has made mention of the functional similarities: Preacher films on the same stages as Breaking Bad, and Catlin has built a writers room that operates in a comparable way.
The technical ingredients of Catlin’s Breaking Bad formula have been passed on to Preacher. As he told The Verge in a recent interview, Preacher diverges from his previous AMC hit with its utter lack of rules: “with Garth’s world, so much is possible. Tom Cruise can die, and there are vampires and angels.” In his efforts to maintain the unique tone and reality of Preacher, Catlin has welcomed a high-risk, high-reward project.
6 Tom Cruise Explodes
We couldn’t delay explaining that last sentence any longer. In the inaugural episode of Preacher, the Hollywood megastar spontaneously combusts after his body is invaded by an alien, supernatural life force. Rogen and Goldberg are quick to defend their usage of Tom Cruise as the most high-profile victim in Preacher.
Expounding on his high-ranking credibility in the religion of Scientology, the duo thought his nominal involvement in the pilot would play to big laughs, capitalizing on Cruise’s famed role in the church. The SXSW audience apparently agreed. However brief the “Tom Cruise Explodes!” moment may be, it serves a bigger purpose: expanding the focus beyond Annville and introducing the invading life force across the globe. There will be blood.
5 it Has Hard-R Irreverence
When the groveling pre-titles voice bellows, “Viewer Discretion Advised,” one wonders if that’s used less for information and more for titillation. For Preacher, viewer discretion is definitely advised and anyone tuning in should make sure the little ones are fast asleep. Game of Thrones has inured audiences to random deaths, incest and more, so while our collective tolerance for graphic content demands increasingly more punch to feel the pain, Preacher has a few twists up its sleeve.
It starts with an ear for acerbic humor, which, when sandwiched by vampires and exploding humans, can be quite intoxicating. As with runaway box-office hit Deadpool before it, Preacher genuinely doesn’t care what you think. Ennis and Dillon wrote characters that play by their own rules and break them when they’re inconvenient.
4 it stars Dominic Cooper
Catlin, Rogen and Goldberg have assembled a diverse and exciting cast for Preacher, headlined by Dominic Cooper. The British-born actor has been chambered in the Hollywood revolver for quite some time, with impressive and memorable turns in An Education, Captain America: The First Avenger, and as Saddam Hussein’s mercurial son, Uda, in The Devil’s Double.
As Jesse Custer, Cooper tackles a protagonist imagined by millions of Garth Ennis’ loyal readers. It’s a difficult task not unlike Andrew Lincoln putting on the full armor of Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead. While it may take a few episodes to see Cooper as Reverend Jesse Custer, he will make ownership of the role before long. Fans should rest assured that Ennis himself is quite pleased with how things have turned out.
3 it also stars Jackie Earle Haley
Born and raised in Northridge, California, Jackie Earle Haley has spent most of his life in showbusiness. An Academy Award nominated actor (Little Children, 2006), Haley is the pinch hitter of choice for directors like Martin Scorsese, Zack Snyder, Steven Spielberg and more. His 5’5 frame belies his commanding physical presence.
In Preacher, Haley takes on Odin Quincannon, the patriarch of the Quincannon family and head of Quincannon Meat and Power, a 125 year-old family-run company. In the comics, Ennis and Dillon depict Odin as something of a gollum, cave-dwelling like creature who holds immense power and influence in Annville. His spiny back and pallid skin are disturbingly drawn, particularly when Jesse Custer finds the man fornicating a meat-product mannequin, lending a whole new meaning to "bone-in ribeye."
It remains to be seen if this particular moment will make it onto AMC’s final cut, though it’s hard to imagine Rogen and Goldberg dismissing the opportunity.
2 Glowing Reviews
In an era where anyone with a Twitter handle can be a critic, it doesn’t take long for a film or TV show to get trashed by the public. Preacher was boldly revealed last week at the SXSW film festival in Austin, Texas. Given the show’s location, the prestigious festival seemed like a logical debut for Rogen, Catlin and Goldberg to premiere the pilot, and according to those lucky enough to see it, AMC has a hit on their hands.
Showing at the festival’s Paramount Theatre, SXSW’s largest venue, audiences apparently cheered at various moments in the pilot, laughing raucously in others and giving the show an impeachably warm welcome. According to Vanity Fair, the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Preacher pilot showing seemed as grand as any top-billed movies premiering at the festival: “is gloriously cinematic and well acted, paced, and executed. [Preacher didn’t feel] at all out of place on the big screen.”
1 Premieres After Fear the Walking Dead
For all the hype surrounding The Walking Dead, its cohabitating sequel, Fear the Walking Dead, holds the record for highest first first-season overall viewership in cable history. Its fan following is almost as long as that sentence. Good news, then, for Preacher, which will open its church doors immediately after the latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead, walking its average 11.2 million viewers to the pews.
Everything is falling into place for Rogen, Catlin and Goldberg, who flew out of SXSW with a tailwind of critical praise, fanboy hype from the Ennis and Dillon comics, and the ultimate lead in from Fear the Walking Dead on May 22nd. It will take an act of God for Preacher to fail.
What else has you pumped for Preacher? Let us know in the comments below!