HBO chickens out; Preacher too much
It looks like HBO is just TV after all. After airing such intense fare as The Sopranos and Carnivalé, the new head of production, Sue Naegle (or at least that’s my guess on who pulled the plug based on the quotes) is pulling the plug on the in development HBO adaptation of DC/Vertigo’s Preacher. The Garth Ennis-Steve Dillon comic book series was controversial for its intense violence and handling of religious subjects, but it was also a huge sales and critical hit.
There was talk of adapting the series with each episode comprising exactly one comic issue. Dialogue was lifted almost exactly from the book with the comic art used as the storyboard. Fans were incredibly enthusiastic about it, but “the new head of HBO felt it was just too dark and too violent and too controversial,” according to Mark Steven Johnson (Daredevil, Ghost Rider). Naegle loves In Treatment, Big Love and Tell Me You Love Me, so that tells you where here tastes lie. These aren’t bad shows but they’re also not going to jump out and grab headlines, and headlines are exactly what HBO needs for its original series.
Fear not, though, faithful Preacher fans. While the project is apparently dead at HBO, it may yet live on. “I’ve heard someone is in the process of getting the rights to turn it into a feature film,” said Johnson. “I hope that happens. But I hope it happens as a series of movies as one movie couldn’t do it justice. I really love that story and I dedicated a lot of my time to honor Garth’s work. But it wasn’t meant to be.” Johnson is right that it would be a complete disaster to try and compact the saga of Preacher into just one film.
But you know, as good as a series of films could be I don’t think it would be as good as a HBO level series production. The added time and pacing that a weekly series allows would let the story unfold in much the same way it did as a comic book. We wouldn’t have to sacrifice any of those important character moments that made the series such an intense and personal experience. As much fun as the plots themselves were, it was those moments between Jesse, Tulip and Cassidy that really made it such a success.
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