WARNING: The following contains images suitable only for mature readers.
“Preacher” debuts Sunday on AMC, promising what looks to be a surprisingly faithful take on the acclaimed Vertigo comic series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon (although it was originally even more of a direct adaptation). Heck, they even included Arseface! Still, there are a number of moments in the seminal comic so twisted they likely couldn’t air on a broadcast cable network, even one like AMC, which routinely pushes boundaries — as fans of “The Walking Dead” know quite well.
Looking back at the original series, CBR rounded up 10 moments so extreme they will likely never be adapted to television. (Obviously even a TV-MA rating means the book’s heavy profanity won’t be directly translated, so we won’t even mention that.)
Face Off (“Preacher” #5 and #7)
In the second arc of the series, Jesse Custer, Tulip and Cassidy travel to New York City, where they meet up with an old reporter friend of Cassidy’s, Si Coltrane. In Issue 5, we see the serial killer dubbed the Reaver-Cleaver skin the face off of a victim. That’s already tough to imagine seeing on TV, but Issue 7 takes things to another level by showing the face nailed upside down onto the victim’s face! That’s far too gross for AMC. It might even be too much for a pay cable outlet like HBO or Showtime.
Chicken Loving (“Preacher” #10)
Jesse Custer grew up on a plantation called Angelville, raised by his grandmother after his father was murdered for trying to escape with his wife and son. Jesse’s mother was later seemingly killed after standing up to her own mother’s standard punishment of Jesse, which was to seal him up in a coffin at the bottom of the lake with just a hose to breathe through. His grandmother had two main enforcers, the steady, steel-eyed Jody and the unhinged, perverted T.C. In Issue 9, Jody nails the head of Jesse’s dog to a fence, which you could just about see a TV show depicting — off-camera, of course. But then there’s that scene in “Preacher” #10 where Jesse’s inbred best friend Billy Bob is woken in the barn by T.C. having sex with a chicken … then accidentally urinated on by T.C. … who slices his throat open as punishment for what T.C. perceived as spying. Perhaps any one of those things might fly, but certainly not all of them combined.
A Tale of Two Fingers (“Preacher” #21)
Allfather D’Aronique is the head of the Grail, a secret organization dedicated to protecting the bloodline of Jesus Christ from “impurity,” and a distant uncle of Jesse Custer. When we meet him in “Preacher” #21, he’s so heavy that four men can’t safely lift him out of his plane (Herr Star, who also works for the Grail, just shoots the man most responsible for dropping him, as he knows it is better than what the twisted D’Aronique will do). A man without boundaries, he’s also bulimic and carries around an ivory stick in the shape of two fingers, which he uses to make himself vomit on himself. Naturally, he then continues eating as if there were nothing wrong. Far too disgusting for TV.
All the King’s Horses and all the King’s Men (“Preacher” #24)
The tricky aspect of the Grail’s plan is that in order to protect Christ’s bloodline, they allow the descendants of Christ to inbreed. Thus, by modern times, the “Messiah” is severely mentally disabled. In and of itself that’s a tough sell for a TV show, but I could perhaps see a slightly reworked version of it. Herr Starr’s mutiny against Allfather D’Aronique, however, is clearly too disgusting for TV, as Starr pushes him out of a helicopter, where he lands on the “Messiah” … and they actually show the after-effects, in their disturbing glory!
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