There have been some outstanding television series this year, and there have been some duds to boot. For this installment of our Holiday Gift Guide, I’m recommending two very different shows, both of which are worth watching for various reasons.
We kick things off with Preacher, the 10-episode adaptation of the Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon Vertigo comic book series that should have been, for all intents and purposes, totally unfilmable. The series, which ran for 65 issues, was about a preacher named Jesse Custer who becomes possessed by the offspring of a demon and an angel. Imbued with the word of God, Custer hits the road with his hit girl girlfriend Tulip and new best buddy, the Irish vampire Cassidy. Preacher, the comic book, is full of sacrilege, sex, sodomy and lots of fun stuff that you’d be hard-pressed to see on television.
So rather than put it all out there, show developers Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen and Sam Caitlin attempt to find a balancing act between the depraved and digestible.
The truth is, this Preacher adaptation only works some of the time. The scripts should have been much tighter than they were. However, when it’s shooting straight, its heart and soul are in the right place. Dominick Cooper is more than solid as Jesse Custer—he’s dynamic and carries the series. However, in many ways he’s outshined by both Rose Negga as Tulip and Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy, both of whom have some showy roles to sink their teeth into.
Though the language and imagery is tamer than the books, we still get some uber-violent killing from the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish), some pathetic pathos from Areseface (Ian Colletti) and a sympathetic take on meat man Odin Quincannon courtesy of Jackie Earle Haley.
While not every installment is great, the premiere episode of Preacher sets a strong tone for the show, while the season finale genuinely feels like it captures the heart and soul of the comic book. For those reasons, the 10 episode DVD/Blu-ray set is worth a purchase for fans of the comic book and who enjoy poking fun at religion.
For fans of true crime storytelling, nothing was better in 2016 than The People v O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, which aired on FX earlier this year. The Emmy award-winning 10-episode miniseries brilliantly traces what was dubbed the trial of the century, as former NFL star and certified celebrity O.J. Simpson went on trial for allegedly killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and a friend, Ron Goldman.
As a teen in between high school and university, I had a lot of time on my hands, and I spent countless days watching the trial unfold. Show creator Ryan Murphy manages to capture those days with picture-perfect mid-’90s realism. His casting choices are unparalleled: Sarah Paulson deservedly won an Emmy for her role as District Attorney Marcia Clark, while her co-star Sterling K. Brown’s take on Clark’s partner Christopher Darden netted him an Outstanding Supporting Actor Emmy himself. But everyone in The People v O.J. Simpson is outstanding, including Hollywood heavyweights like Nathan Lane and John Travolta. O.J. Simpson is portrayed by Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr., who while not necessarily looking the part, himself falls right into the role, making the viewer forget that they’re not watching the real thing.
Since The People v O.J. Simpson is a limited series versus an ongoing one, it’s flow is constantly dynamic. It has a story to tell and a limited time to do so. No episodes or words are wasted. It’s simply the perfect TV show.