With a relatively modest premiere and ratings that have been steadily declining since its debut, AMC's Preacher is having a difficult time replicating the success of the network's first comics-based series, The Walking Dead.
The big question is whether the show has strayed too far from the source material to the point of alienating longtime fans or if the radical departure from the Garth Ennis/Steve Dillon series is working. But because of events like the NBA Finals and established shows like Game of Thrones, Preacher's seeming inability to establish a congregation is the result of bad timing. However, AMC generally gives shows a little time to find their legs, and while the series is underperforming, it is unlikely they'll pull the plug any time soon.
It's not so much that the show is different from the Vertigo graphic novels as it is the way it deviates from the source material.
Part of the problem appears to be the lack of a singular, solid dramatic through line. At present, Preacher seems to be about the daily dealings of a dark, quirky town with a lot of secrets – which isn't altogether bad. It's just not new, and it's definitely not what the original story was at its essence. Like changing Jesse's origin so that he is the son of a preacher, turning the overall story into an ensemble piece set in one Texas town negates the glorious insanity by making the situation unremarkable.
Even if current events work themselves around to the road story in which Jesse is on a personal mission to kill God, it means that a lot of what is going on now is a precursor to bigger things – Preacher Begins, if you will – and comparatively speaking, pretty unimportant. So why are we watching preliminaries when there is (probably) a more compelling main event coming?
On the other hand, interesting things are happening. As we saw in last night's episode, "South Will Rise Again," Jesse has all but fully embraced his newfound power – using it to not only fill pews, but to help people in a more direct way. Or so he thinks. Why sit around and waste valuable time counseling people when you can just hold court at the local IHOP for five minutes and simply tell them what to do? Taking into account how it manifested itself in the pilot (versus the comic), Genesis did not blow up Jesse's entire congregation bonding to him, but what the "Word of God" appears to be doing to those who hear it could end up being just as destructive.
Which could send our three main characters on the road.
Preacher airs Sundays on AMC.