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"Preacher," a knockabout, comical creepshow based on the late-'90s Vertigo comic book of the same name, adds another genre series to the slate of AMC, already the home of "The Walking Dead," "Fear the Walking Dead" and...

AMC's faith in 'Preacher' largely pays off

"Preacher," a knockabout, comical creepshow based on the late-'90s Vertigo comic book of the same name, adds another genre series to the slate of AMC, already the home of "The Walking Dead," "Fear the Walking Dead" and...

AMC's faith in 'Preacher' largely pays off

"Preacher," a knockabout, comical creepshow based on the late-'90s Vertigo comic book of the same name, adds another genre series to the slate of AMC, already the home of "The Walking Dead," "Fear the Walking Dead" and "Into the Badlands." It's too much to say that you can't go wrong with the fantastical or supernatural these days, but it's still a bet very much worth taking, and one that largely pays off here.

Without revealing too much past the premise, the story begins in outer space – a frame-filling title reading "Outer Space" erases any doubt – with a comet-like force directing itself toward the Earth. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, it finds a stable home within the soul or being of Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), the unsure minister to a small-town Texas flock. That he wears cowboy boots and silver points on his shirt collar tells us there's more to him than that.

And soon, much more. He will find himself changed and, in the comic-book way, he will find it a mixed bag.

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Among the almost universally eccentric humans who will come or come back into Jesse's life are Tulip (Ruth Negga), an old partner-in-crime and love, fresh from a firefight in a Kansas cornfield; and Cassidy (Joe Gilgun), a cheerful, layabout Irish vampire on the run from vampire killers.

Watch the trailer for AMC's TV adaptation of the supernatural comic series "Preacher."

Watch the trailer for AMC's TV adaptation of the supernatural comic series "Preacher."

Also: a dumb sheriff (W. Earl Brown) whose son (Ian Colletti) bears the scar of a suicide attempt; the taciturn head of a local corporation (Jackie Earle Haley) apparently involved in the production of both meat and electrical power; a mysterious Mutt and Jeff (Anatol Yusef and Tom Brooke) tracking the errant power that has made itself comfortable in Jesse; and a waitress (Lucy Griffiths) in whom the series' quotient of sweet normalcy seems to reside. The actors keep their parts from the stereotypes from which they're born.

Created for the page by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, "Preacher" has been developed for the screen by Seth Rogen and his writing and producing partner Evan Goldberg, along with "Breaking Bad" vet Sam Catlin, who acts as show runner. (Rogen and Goldberg also direct.)

Like many Hollywood properties, "Preacher" was kicked around a bit here and there before finding a home (as most kicked-around properties do not). Columbia and Miramax and HBO all had it in their inbox at one time or another, with Rachel Talalay and Sam Mendes variously attached to direct and James Marsden at one point set to star.

That it was finally developed for AMC, a basic cable network with basic cable practices and standards, by producers whose history and expertise is in comedy -- you could include large swaths of "Breaking Bad" in that category -- seems to me all to the good. It modulates the harsher tone and language of the original, even as it makes everything more colorful; aesthetically, it lies somewhere between the School of Lynch and the School of Coen. It pulls the material out of the darkness into the light --  Gilgun's good-natured vampire is key to what makes the horror show also a happy one -- and though it is violent at times, it is violence that doesn't take itself too seriously.

"Preacher" belongs to that class of fiction that plays around with the elements of Judeo-Christian theology for purposes of philosophical rumination and/or sensational entertainment, a spectrum that spans through "Wings of Desire," "Black Jesus" and "Lucifer" (the last also born from a comic). "Preacher" falls more toward the sensational end of the spectrum – its thoughts on God are not especially subtle – but that is also nothing in its disfavor.

'Preacher’

Where: AMC

When: 10 p.m. Sunday

Rating: TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children younger than 17)

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