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OUTCAST and PREACHER, two TV shows about demon possession. And they both have the goods…

Posted on May 24th, 2016
Posted on May 24th, 2016

by Coop Cooper

Two similar-in-concept, supernaturally-themed TV shows are premiering this week and both are worth checking out…

“Outcast” (Cinemax series) – Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) spends most of his time sleeping, barely eating, not showering and keeping to himself in his childhood home in rural West Virginia. His kind sister Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) shows up occasionally to help him clean up, take him grocery shopping and force him into awkward dinners with her family, but the rest of the locals treat Kyle as a pariah. They all think he killed his wife, but in reality, she fell victim to demon possession, a phenomena that has plagued Kyle’s family since his childhood. Meanwhile, Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister) has been dealing with a rash of demon possessions all over the region and he believes Kyle may have a special ability to resist and vanquish the evil spirits.

While not the most original plot, the series excels in its execution. The characters feel fully fleshed out and three dimensional almost immediately. The actors give appropriately dire and sympathetic performances and the demonic threat is surprisingly scary despite taking some obvious cues from “The Exorcist”.

Robert Kirkman, one of the creators of both “The Walking Dead” show and comic book, likewise created “Outcast”, bringing the dark and gritty tone of his previous show to this one. “Outcast” is adapted from Kirkman’s own comic book series of the same name, and that brings a large dose of legitimacy to this new show. Also, up-and-coming horror director Adam Wingard (“You’re Next”, “The Guest”, the “VHS” anthology series) helmed the first episode, so I feel encouraged by the direction Kirkman is heading in with “Outcast”.

The first episode of “Outcast” is already available to view for free online and the Cinemax premiere airs on June 3rd at 9pm Central.

Rating: 3 and ½ out of 5 stars

“Preacher” (AMC series) – Although “Preacher” has a similar theme and concept to “Outcast”, it differs greatly in tone and structure. Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper) used to be a rough and tough criminal, but a hard life and a promise to his father finds him back in his hometown of Annville, TX preaching to a small, neurotic congregation in a run down church. Jesse is an incompetent clergyman. He drinks, gets into fistfights, regularly fails to help his parishioners with their problems and he can’t even get the air conditioner in the chapel running again. Jesse’s life becomes further complicated with the arrival of two people: 1. An affable Irish vampire-on-the run, Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun), who decides to lay low in the attic of Jessie’s church, and 2. Jesse’s former partner and criminal mastermind, Tulip (Ruth Negga), who shows up with a treasure map, trying to convince him to return to a life of crime. Jesse believes God has abandoned mankind and is about to hang up his collar, but at the last second decides to prove to his congregation that God still exists. This will be a complicated task considering Jesse has also been possessed by an evil spirit that gives him the power to force people to obey his commands… although they take those commands a bit too literally.

“Preacher” has a darkly comedic, madcap tone that doesn’t take itself too seriously like “Outcast”. It’s based off of comic book from the 1990’s that has a huge pop-culture following (actor Seth Rogan was such a big fan, he became a producer for the show). Dominic Cooper (“Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Agent Carter”) is an inspired choice for the role of Jesse as he can handle both comedy and drama with ease. Some folks may have some trouble deciphering Joseph Gilgun’s (“Lockout” and “Misfits” the TV series) thick Irish Brogue as Cassidy, so turning on the closed captions might be in order, but I predict he will become a comedy favorite on the show. Ruth Negga was intimidating on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and she brings plenty of that same fire to her Tulip character.

While it’s hard to figure out what is going on in the first episode, it is far more entertaining than expected and I’ll be curious to see where the cast and filmmakers take it.

“Preacher” has an encore premiere showing on AMC on Sunday at 8pm Central and subsequent episodes will air on that same day/time.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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