Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Papa, Please Don't 'Preacher'

I would like nothing more than to be filled with joy at the news that Preacher—Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's seminal mid-90s comic series, about the wandering mission of a man of the cloth who is given the power of the word of God—is in development as an HBO series. Really, I would. I've always thought that HBO needed to get in the comic book property business, and Preacher, with it's language, nudity, and vampire content, couldn't be done anywhere else as a TV series...and there's plenty enough story to sustain five 13-episodes seasons, at least. (I've also thought that the only way to do The Sandman justice would be as an HBO miniseries, a la Band of Brothers.)

But Mark Steven Johnson? The guy who gathered the forces of mediocrity to ruin Daredevil? The guy who probably destroyed Ghost Rider? (I say probably, because I haven't seen it in its entirety, but the fact that I've sat through two underwhelming presentations at two separate Comic-Cons does not bode well.) He's the guy who gets to write the pilot script and executive produce? Really? And they get Howard Deutch to direct, he who has demonstrated his visual flair and character acumen with films like Grumpier Old Men, The Whole Ten Yards, and the pilot for Melrose Place?

Could they have found two people less suited for this? You want a project like this to be in the hands of someone with a relentless intelligence as well as an unbridled geek creativity, like Ron Moore, or Damon Lindelof, or John Rogers, or Gough/Millar. Not these guys. One hopes that the underlying material is strong enough to shine through whatever gloss of shite this lot coats it with. And maybe the casting will help to steady the ship.

But, right now, it looks like Preacher would probably be better served by never being a TV series at all.


Tom McLean said...

I hear what you're saying, Marc.

But ...

With the exception of "The Comeback," HBO hasn't put out many stinkers. I have to think they are not going to sign on to something that sucks, even if it ends up being different from the comic book. Same goes for Garth and Steve being involved.

Johnson is maybe the last guy I would have expected to do this, but I don't disdain Daredevil the way some do. (The director's cut is much better and worth a look. There also was more studio interference on that pic than has been really talked about.) Deutch is the surprise, makes me think they may emphasize the funny bits in the mix, but that COULD work.

And if it turns out crap, Garth and Steve own the piece and they don't have to sign on to something unless they're happy with it.

marc bernardin said...

Out-and-out stinkers, no (though K Street and Mind of the Married Man were quite underwhelming and I will NEVER forgive them for those 17 seasons of Arli$$), but they get away with a whole lot by giving everything that HBO patina of quality/weirdness.

For every Sopranos, there's a Big Love, which isn't nearly as good as Six Feet Under. Or a Family Bonds. Or a Lucky Louie. Since their highs are SO high, we tend to forget that they've hit a few lows along the way.

And I know why Johnson got the gig; he's great in "the room." In both of those SDCC presentations, he talked a really good game, both about what he was aiming for and couldn't achieve with Daredevil and his vision for Ghost Rider. But he's still, on his best day, a John Badham-level hack.

If it goes badly, and I really hope it doesn't, Garth and Steve will have no one else but themselves to blame.