AMC’s Preacher suffocates the audience with overwhelming smugness
I don’t have a whole hell of a lot to say about AMC’s Preacher. There are some shows that are so incredibly desperate to simultaneously shock and please that the resulting combination is vaguely off-putting. Desperate to recreate the success of The Walking Dead, AMC appears high on Preacher‘s ability to pull in audiences week after week. Sure, people tune into The Walking Dead for zombie gore, but it’s really the human interest – whether people want to admit it or not – that keeps them coming back. Preacher, though, is dead-set on incinerating everything remotely human, leaving something of a carnival freak show that quickly becomes tiring.
The pilot episode, directed by the producing team of Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, meanders haphazardly through a pastiche of comic book fantasia. There’s an apparent energy source flying from outer space that causes human bodies to spontaneously combust. There’s the titular preacher (Dominic Cooper, nicely wallowing in self-pity) who’s apparently preaching sermons in which he no longer believes. There’s an Irish vampire who murders a plane full of men before falling 30,000 feet and walking away. There’s mysterious Tulip (Ruth Negga) who enlists the aid of two young children to build a homemade bazooka to fight unseen assailants. There’s even a teenage boy with a mouth sunken in like an asshole.
None of this, at least based on the pilot, seems connected at all except through the character of the preacher who eventually discovers he can make people do whatever he wants. There’s zero actual human interest to drive the story forward. Instead, there’s only the above-mentioned freak show characters who, in any normal presentation, would be the spice that accentuates a central story. Instead, they’re all served up as the main course here, and, as I’ve said before, you never serve up only spice as your main course. Cooper does his absolute best with the role. He’s so surprisingly good in the role that, in a world with less great television, I might have continued watching just to see where he took the character. There’s certainly a dark sense of humor on display here to which some people will most assuredly respond.
And I’m convinced, because this is based on a popular comic series, that all of this eventually manages to make some sort of narrative sense and that I don’t need to be completely high to appreciate it all. There’s just not enough hours in the day for me to spend with a show that’s so smugly pleased with itself.
Watching the pilot, I just couldn’t help but think I’ve just watched a giant steaming turd. This is just not my kind of joint. Good on you if you found more in it than I did.