Ep. 101: Pilot
A hijacked bread truck slams into a church sign and topples over because of a mistimed pour of Jack and Coke by Vernon Brown. His life wasn’t always that of a joy-riding drunk. He used to be the biggest country star with the nickname Burnin’ Vernon, because his records were burning up the charts.
He then explains his career downfall: sleeping with the mayor’s daughter, the senator’s wife and the sheriff’s daughter, who turns 18 years old a day too late. Subsequently, his career went up in flames, and Burnin’ Vernon took on a whole new meaning. Twenty years later, he’s an Elvis impersonator.
Back to present day, the local sheriff (played by Randy Travis) chases after Vernon in his car. Cut to three months later, and Vernon is in jail with a few other men as his cellmates. There he meets Walt, the son of Vernon’s best friend back when he was burnin’ up the charts.
Their conversation gets cut short as Vernon is summoned by the warden. It’s time for his discharge. Unfortunately, he’s walking out with no money and his Elvis costume on, which means he must abandon his impounded car.
“This is unbelievable, man!” Mitch Doily, Vernon’s parole officer (played by Kevin Farley), exclaims as he reminisces about dancing with his ex-wife to Vernon’s music.
Doily opens Vernon’s file and begins laughing over the list of charges. He’s impressed. However, the consequences aren’t so exciting. Vernon has probation where he must stay in the state of Tennessee for one calendar year, 1,000 hours of community service and a ton of child support for his 15-year-old daughter, Charlotte, unbeknownst to him.
After a brief phone call with the mother of his child, Debbie (played by Joey Lauren Adams), he walks over to her house for a face-to-face meeting. “You look like hell,” Debbie explains. She’s pissed and is adamant about getting the child support he owes.
Here, we meet Ronnie (played by Jon Sewell), as Debbie’s live-in boyfriend with a dense mustache and an eccentric way of showing his toughness. Ronnie and Vernon share a few words, followed by Debbie slamming the door in Vernon’s face. Looks like he better pay that child support if he wants to smooth things over with this household.
First things first, Vernon looks for a gig to gather some fast cash. He strikes out — multiple times — so he drinks his feelings away with a few beers and decides to head to the church in the morning.
When Vernon enters the church, he meets the blind caretaker, Curtis (played by Leslie David Baker). He asks, “What can I do ya for?” which Vernon quickly replied, “I’m, uh, your new preacher!” His confident delivery pleases Curtis, and they move forward with business after Curtis warns Vernon about a man who is set to do community service on the church. He urges Vernon to keep an eye one him in case he’s trouble.
Vernon quickly realizes he has to find someone to play himself while he plays the preacher. Vernon immediately thinks of Walt and asks him if he’ll help him out with a sob story about Walt’s late father. It works. Walt agrees and immediately starts taking orders from Curtis back at the church.
Once Curtis leaves for the day, Vernon and Walt discuss his daughter, Charlotte, played by Madison Iseman, over a few drinks of the communion wine. Vernon passes out for a few minutes and dreams of Elvis and Jesus (played by Darius Rucker). He’s reassured that crashing into the church sign was, in fact, a sign sent by God.
Vernon’s dream is interrupted by Walt getting him to leave the church for a little adventure. They head to Debbie’s house. Vernon sees Charlotte and gets nervous as he hides on the front step. The timing was off, plus Walt is getting hungry after eating all the ribs he had on the road.
Morning is approaching, and Walt and Vernon are still out on the town. But wait. The church service starts in a few hours! After running as fast as they can, Vernon prepares his sermon to the best of his abilities.
The pilot ends with Vernon in shock as he realizes the real preacher has entered the building right as he’s about to deliver his sermon to the entire congregation.
Ep. 102: Preach On
Vernon tells Curtis to play as loud as he can, at the same time he asks the congregation to close their eyes and meditate while he preaches. Of course, this is all a diversion so no one realizes Walt is outside wrestling with the real preacher to buy time.
Once the service is over, Vernon, Walt and the real preacher sit down for a chat in Vernon’s quarters.
“Sorry about the confusion there, pastor. You have got to forgive us. We’ve had a rash of fake ministers coming through this area pretending to be preachers and robbing these little churches blind,” explains Vernon.
The real preacher believes him.
Later, Vernon and Walt take the real preacher out for lunch — which means get drunk. The real preacher explains alcohol makes him crazy, like real crazy. This works to Vernon and Walt’s advantage because, this way, they can blackmail him once he gets “crazy” after a few Long Island iced teas. The preacher has no idea these drinks are alcoholic, so he decides it would be a great idea to try one — or a few.
Meanwhile, Debbie and Ronnie argue about his public access-like boat show that is a failed dream in the making. But Ronnie firmly believes that with the flood of child support coming in soon, he can make something of it. Debbie is not impressed.
Debbie and Vernon meet at the department of child services where Vernon delivers his first child support payment. The social worker steps into the waiting room where they’re chatting. She asks Vernon to clarify his full name versus his stage name — Vernon Brownmule and Vernon Brown, respectively. Debbie immediately introduces herself and immediately rubs the social worker the wrong way.
While Debbie is away at her meeting, Charlotte leaves her house to then hop into her best friend’s van. Charlotte is very excited for the concert they’re headed to and doesn’t want to be late. However, they have to make a quick pit stop along the way to drop off her friend’s brothers and sisters at a music-themed sleepover.
Back at the department of child services, things aren’t looking good for Debbie. The social worker is taking a liking to Vernon and his fun stories, whereas Debbie continues to dig her own grave. Alas, Vernon throws her a bone, pretending to be her live-in boyfriend so Ronnie won’t bring her down even more. The social workers ends the meeting with scheduling an in-home visit.
Vernon arrives at Debbie’s house after explaining to Ronnie that he needs to hide downstairs. Ronnie is annoyed, but very agreeable.
The social worker checks out the house, and finds a few eccentricities to which Vernon tries to cover up while becoming sentimental about his daughter’s belongings. She’s still skeptical, and continues to travel through the house.
Cut to Walt and the real preacher. These two have found their way to a wrestling match, and the real preacher is having a wild time. He’s definitely getting crazy as he predicted. However, once they show him the photos from his time at the wrestling match, there’s no need to blackmail this guy to get what they want.
The preacher would like Vernon to extend his time filling in for him while he can pursue his wrestling dreams. That takes care of that!
The episode ends at Charlotte’s school. Vernon says hello and offers her a ride home, to which Charlotte rebuffs.