It’s been hyped up for a while now. Now, the darkly comedic drama (or serious dark comedy, depending on how you look at it) is finally here. So — did Talking Preacher live up to the buzz that preceded it? Read on for our spoiler free review of the show everyone is going to be talking about.
1. Willful ignorance?
I’m not sure how I feel about how the creators of Preacher are portrayed as dancing around answering certain questions. There were a few things that they flat-out refused to answer, and I just don’t find that to be exciting television. I mean, I get it — the creators of Talking Preacher want us to tune in next week to find out, or something like that. But come on, they don’t need to make it so obvious. It also seems a poor choice for Hardwick to be a fan of the comic — if that’s the case, why ask certain questions at all? Shouldn’t he know the answer? It’s a common flaw in fiction, the dumbing down of characters in order to delay things, and it’s just lazy writing, if you ask me.
2. A comment on creative hubris?
With any adaptation, people will argue whether or not the original was better. I’m a huge fan of the A Song of Ice and Fire series that Game of Thrones is based on, for example, and I can assure you that people spit fire every week about how the producers are ruining everything. For this reason, I think it’s telling that in this first episode Rogen’s character was talking about the things he was planning to do differently from the comic his show is based on. It wasn’t just that he wanted to do something different — he thought he could improve upon the original. Changing Tulip’s race, spending more time with Jesse as a preacher — could this be a subtle commentary about the nature of adapters and how they often take liberties where they don’t need to be taken? If so, I don’t know how I feel about it — I’m normally in the “the books are the books, the show is the show” camp, but it could be an interesting direction for the plot to go if fans of the Preacher comic lose their heads over Rogen’s changes (as fans are wont to do).
3. Show, don’t tell.
I think part of what held this first episode back was the reliance on dialogue to describe what happened in Preacher, rather than just showing us. Of course, if too much of the show is played on screen, the whole shtick is lost, but I can’t help but feel like they could have fit in a few more scenes from the titular show than what they offered. Not all would have to be fullscreen clips — we could have had some over-the-shoulder shots while the rest of the cast watched on a television or something. If you’re making a show like this, you need to be able to avoid too much explaining, and I think above all that’s what hurting this show the most.
4. Who do I root for, and why?
I take that back — the thing that hurts this show the most is the complete lack of conflict. Chris Hardwick likes Preacher. The show’s creators seem to have no issue with how the show turned out. Maybe the larger concept of Talking Preacher is neat, but in terms of actual plot? There is none! There had to be a more interesting way to do this. Maybe Hardwick has to pretend to like the show when he really doesn’t. Maybe Rogen or Cooper is really disappointed with how the show turned out. Hell, maybe they all love it, but it challenges the faith of one of the guests. Perhaps to some art house types a TV show doesn’t need plot, just ideas, but for the rest of us grounded in the real world we need something to actually chew on. Granted, the actors who portray Cassidy and Tulip didn’t appear — perhaps this is sowing seeds for Hardwick’s resentment in the future?
5. The joke, if you didn’t get it yet.
I think what AMC is doing here is pretty bold. They’ve been the home to many great shows, including the likes of Mad Men and Breaking Bad. They’re certainly no strangers to shows with a grand vision, but I don’t think they’ve done anything like this before. A show wherein the characters discuss a show-within-a-show? It’s really creative, I’ll give them that, but I almost feel that it’s a bit too out there for mainstream TV. I admire the ambition, though, and I do think the approach could be used to say a lot, but I’m not quite sold on it yet. They could turn it around, though!
Join me in a couple of weeks for my review of the premiere for Ride with Norman Reedus.