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When someone informed me, while I was partway through watching the first season of Preacher, that it was based on a comic book series, it somehow suddenly made a lot more sense to me.
The show's heady combination of bizarre and often morally ambiguous characters, supernatural themes and extreme violence gives it a kind of surreal comic book feel, and a pre-existing cult following of fans would explain how such an outlandish and frankly messed-up story might emerge in high-budget television format.
The show stars Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, a small-town preacher with a chequered past, who is possessed by a mysterious entity that gives him the power to compel other humans to do as he instructs, or, as another character puts it, ``some kind of smoky brain-hand that makes you do things''.
The second season, which comes to Lightbox this week, picks up where the first season left off, with Jesse, his beautiful and fierce childhood friend and old flame Tulip O'Hare (Ruth Negga) and best friend Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), a 100-year-old Irish vampire with a partiality to hard drugs, setting off on a mission to find God, albeit in perhaps a more literal sense than such an objective traditionally implies. On their trail with grimly determined murderous purpose is The Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish), a kind of demonic contract killer with supernatural abilities of his own.
The first episode opens on an irreverently humorous note, with Cassidy partway through a heated rant about the dark conspiracy behind the practice of infant circumcision, but it isn't long before the action kicks in, in the form of a high-speed car chase (did you think no-one would ever set a car chase to Come on Eileen? Wrong!) culminating in a bloody shootout.
Oh yeah, something you need to know about Preacher is that it is really gory. Like, horrendously gory. Blood-splattering explosions, graphic dismemberments, spilling guts - this show doesn't hold back. The first episode of season two notably depicts a head being crushed by a car wheel. If you can't handle gore, this show is not for you. The violence is so over-the-top, though, that it can't be taken terribly seriously, and ends up being more absurdly humorous than genuinely horrifying. Less Saw, more Itchy and Scratchy.
Preacher won't be for everyone, but if you have a strong stomach and like bizarre, action-packed black comedy with vaguely biblical themes, it might be for you. The first double episode of season two is now available to stream on Lightbox and new episodes will be added weekly. And if my cursory Wikipedia investigation of the comic series is anything to go by, there's plenty more crazy for the show's producers to mine yet.
- C. Tilley H. Turner