When it premiered on AMC last summer, many hailed "Preacher" as the next great thing. It had a loyal fan following from its graphic novel and boasted an excellent cast (Dominic Cooper and Academy Award nominee Ruth Negga, among them). But critics were split on the show, as were fans.
Those who loved the graphic novel preached patience. And the series — from Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, and Sam Catlin — seemed to know they needed a change. At the end of the first season, the three main characters hit the road and an explosion literally wiped the town off the map.
It seemed to be an indication that the series was changing its creative direction. And as season two bowed last week, that proved true. Rather than a stagnant and strange story with little explanation, we've gotten a fun road trip and plenty of clarity so far in season two.
That's not to say everything is spelled out. It's not. But the narrative is much easier to engage and follow. And the new structure allows the natural chemistry between Negga, Cooper and Joseph Gilgun to shine.
It's only been three episodes, but this feels more like the summer series we were promised last year. And that might end up being good news for AMC.
Last summer I talked about the network's need for a new generation of hits. "Halt & Catch Fire" fell short in the ratings, and is entering its last season. Same for "Turn," the lofty drama about spies. "The Walking Dead" showed signs of age last season, and it's spin-off, "Fear The Walking Dead," has only inspired fear in AMC executives due to flagging ratings. "Better Call Saul" is a critical darling, but it's nearing its end point and hasn't been the ratings boon of series in the past. So AMC could use a strong "Preacher."
Creatively they've gotten one. Now they have to hope the audience comes back.