Is the golden age of television dead? I don’t know. Is the golden age of television — an age that included such pertinent shows such as BREAKING BAD, MAD MEN and GAME OF THRONES — reaching its end? I think the answer is becoming more obviously yes as the days and months go by. All too often, have I found myself recently, sitting down to a show that on paper should be great, or is presented as being such, only to be disappointed. FEAR THE WALKING DEAD and its big brother THE WALKING DEAD, have almost crippled me. These are shows that either were once great, or should be great, but just aren’t. These are shows that I have now given up on completely.
There are so few great shows on television currently. Actually, I think there might only be two, both of which are on the way out. This leaves the television landscape in a pretty scary position. Its bare bones out there, gang, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better. And unfortunately, every time my eye is attracted to a prospective new show, my hopes end up quashed below a vast ocean of mediocrity. It’s very rare that I watch a show that turns out to be awful, but it’s very often that I watch a show that turns out to be mediocre — which is just as bad. AMC’s new series debuted this week, a show called PREACHER, adapted from the popular comic of the same name. This show had buzz, it was one of the prospects, and PREACHER was, after watching the premiere, defiantly not bad, probably a rung on the ladder above mediocre, but it certainly wasn’t great. And in this day and age, great is all I am looking for. I don’t have the time or the patience for anything else.
PREACHER is a show about a man named Jesse, a preacher of a small rural town in Texas. His world is a strange one, filled of zany fantasy elements, vampires, spiritual powers and lots of violence. Jesse doesn’t seem to like being a preacher all that much, it’s just some moral obligation to his dead father. Jesse has a violent past (no surprise there) and has obviously been involved in some of the more bizarre and dangerous elements alluded to in this opening episode. We see him over the course of the episode, get involved in seemingly trivial preacher like activity, like helping and counselling the town’s citizens. A case of domestic abuse takes centre stage, which leads Jesse to showcase to us the more brutal side of his character. It’s all pretty run of the mill, not anything we haven’t seen anywhere before. Unfortunately, that goes for pretty much the rest of the show as well.
By far the most interesting character, at least on a surface level, is Cassidy, an Irish vampire that we first meet leaping out a plane at thirty thousand feet, after tearing apart a gang of men that wanted him dead. He’s funny, and wacky, and would have fit right at home on HBO’s TRUE BLOOD. Cassidy isn’t the only part of PREACHER that reminded me of TRUE BLOOD. The down to earth elements, mixed with the fantastical, a small cosy rural town that feels likes a living breathing place, a place that could produce a whole host of cartoonish characters to follow. This aspect of PREACHER is probably the part I enjoyed most. The only problem is that it’s been done before.
This show is fine, it’s funny and it is a nice change of pace from the hyper serious, impossibly earnest shows that have saturated television with their bland blandness. This show actually has life, it actually has vibrancy, I didn’t’ want to shoot myself while watching it. So I do enjoy and appreciate the freshness it provides. But it’s not anything to write home about, and if it wants to be the new TRUE BLOOD (seasons 1 – 2, not the god awful awfulness it turned into) it will have to do what that show did so well but even better, and so far there isn’t any evidence that it will be able to.
PREACHER is fine, it’s fine. It really is. But like I said, I’m not looking for fine, I don’t think anyone is. I liked the pilot enough to want to watch more, there are aspects of the show teased that are most certainly interesting and should provide the show with legs. Perhaps when a more serialised plot becomes introduced — please god may one be introduced — things can go to another level. PREACHER is funny, violent, visually interesting and has some colourful-ish characters. There is a good base here. Will the base be expanded upon? Who knows. My pessimism is very real because I’ve been burned all too often. I demand the best and I won’t be ashamed of doing so. Am I looking forward to episode two? Not particularly. But a pilot is a pilot, and one should really give a show a couple more looks. So we will see where things really lie in a couple of weeks. But so far, its underwhelming, not bad, but certainly underwhelming. And really, what’s the difference.