For year, fans watched as their beloved Preacher comic book show wrestled in development hell. News that an adaptation of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s work was finally heading to the small screen set fans of the classic DC/Vertigo series all atwitter. Now with a premiere date at SXSW, devotees wary about the AMC show's direction under executive producers Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Sam Caitlin are about to get a first look – assuming they can make it to Austin this March.
Despite Rogen and Goldberg’s penchant for the risqué, many fans worried the network would tone down some of the hyperviolent elements and curb often blasphemous plotlines. The initial trailer, however, was dark and edgy enough to waylay some fears about the tone and the plot alterations. But one question still remained: how close will the show remain to the source material?
Devotees gained a little more insight when the producers and stars appeared as part of a Preacher panel at the 2016 Television Critics Association press tour. In a report from the LA Times, Rogen and company discussed the variations between the comic to the show. The cast and crew, fielding questions from critics, confirm that some aspects of the show — especially the general story arc and tone – will remain true to the comic.
Rogen mentioned that the producers had discussed staying as true as possible to the comics with creator Garth Ennis:
"It didn't seem, at first, that we should do it that way but then we talked to Garth. And Garth very much encouraged us to make a lot of small changes and to make it a good show first and foremost. Our big thing is we want fans who love the comic to get everything they want, but to also make some new twists and turns. And for them to be surprised and not know what to expect on a weekly basis.”
With Ennis' blessing, they moved forward with the slight changes. It appears so far that Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), Tulip O’Hare (Ruth Negga), and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) will stay pretty much true to their original natures. The actors also explored their initial reactions to the script, and how it attracted them to the characters. Negga apparently loved the "terrible but its brilliant" nature of the story. Similarly, Gilgun explored his appreciation for Cassidy as an unsexy vampire, as well as the undead Irishman's string of bad life decisions. Relatively quiet otherwise, Cooper eventually explained how he was overwhelmed by the story and "desperate to play him [Jesse Custer] when I first read the script."
Fans can also breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to comic book favorite Eugene "Arseface" Root (played by Ian Colletti). Initial fears were that he either wouldn’t play a major part in the series or would be cut altogether. As confirmed by Goldberg and company, Arseface will return, with some minor alterations to his makeup to make him more "sympathetic." However, the producers did mention storyline modifications to the pilot which could throw many comic fans for a loop. [Minor spoiler alert:] Apparently, the pilot won’t lead directly into the existential and ontological saga which comprises the bulk of the series.
Although initially worrisome, news that the first episode doesn’t set up the main quest – a plot which informs the entire Vertigo series from its debut in 1995 to its close in 2000 – isn’t entirely surprising. The pilot will likely act as an introduction to the West Texas preacher and his ragtag colleagues, choosing to lay the groundwork for Custer's search for an abnegated God after setting the mood. It’s very unlikely that the "small changes" referred to by producers will include chopping the superstructure of the comic book's plot.
In the long run, the tone and substance of the premiere will likely answer a lot of questions about where the show is headed – and whether neophytes and fans will follow it.
Preacher’s SXSW premiere date has yet to be confirmed by the festival and AMC still hasn’t released a firm start date for the series, though it’s expected sometime this year.
Source: LA Times