Thought I was done with TV premieres? Think again! Got two of them coming atcha this week, actually—both of them very Halloween appropriate. But I was vastly curious about this NBC adaptation of DC Comics’ Hellblazer series, so I thought I’d test the waters. Honestly, I’ve never really gotten super into the Keanu Reeves Constantine movie, so I’m not sure what drew me to this. But now that I’ve watched it, let’s talk about the premiere particulars!
What I liked:
- Matt Ryan as John Constantine. I’m not familiar with the comics, and I’m not super familiar with the Keanu Reeves movie either (I’ve seen most of it in bits and pieces), but from what I understand, Ryan captures the character pretty well. The sarcasm, the charm, the humor, the self-loathing—Ryan expresses it all with style. He’s a very likable hero. Or anti-hero. However you want to label him.
- This show is like a Lost reunion! I haven’t talked much about Lost on here, but it’s a show I will always look back on fondly as one of my first TV obsessions. And Constantine has brought in two Lost actors! Harold Perrineau (who played Michael) features as mysterious, very cool angel Manny, and Jeremy Davies (who played Daniel Faraday) pops up as Constantine’s very reluctant friend, Richie. Where’s Jack? Kate? Sawyer? Guys, let’s just bring in the whole gang!
- The atmosphere. Given the subject matter (demons, the occult, the supernatural, etc.), the show premiered at an ideal time of year, and it really does set a nice, spooky tone. It starts out in an eerie, moody asylum, and it proceeds with a lot of creepy moments involving various demons. Also, I think the opening scenes at the asylum set the tone for the episode pretty perfectly.
- The special effects. It’s always nice when a TV show manages to have some cool special effects, and Constantine definitely does. There’s one scene in particular involving raindrops that I found particularly nifty…but you’ll see if you watch.
- The surprise with Chas (Charles Halford). I don’t want to spoil anything, but…Well, let’s just say that I made a prediction about his character, and I was very pleasantly surprised when that prediction didn’t exactly come true. Hmm. That doesn’t help much, does it? Sadly, that’s all I can say without spoilers!
What I didn’t like:
- It can sometimes get a little silly. I mean, given the subject matter, it’s bound to. Still, the show embraces its silliness, never taking itself too seriously and throwing in plenty of humor, so this isn’t a huge problem.
- There are a few narrative flaws/character inconsistencies. I can’t say much on this front because, y’know, spoilers, but there were just a few moments where you might go, “Wait, how did he know this? Why is he behaving like this? This doesn’t seem right…”
- This episode goes along at a pretty frantic pace. Can we just go back to a time when TV shows went all out with two-hour premieres? Because premiere episodes always feel so damn rushed I felt the same about last year’s Sleepy Hollow premiere. Much like that, this premiere gallops along, throwing in complications and half-developed backstories rather than really letting us get to know the characters. Drives me a little crazy.
- Ultimately, I’m not sure why the show even bothers with Liv (Lucy Griffiths). I remember hearing something about Constantine going in a different direction than what was originally planned, and, if I remember correctly, that new plan cuts out Liv. So if that’s the case, why introduce her at all? She’s blatantly used to reveal key points of Constantine’s backstory, but couldn’t that be done with another character? I don’t know. I guess I didn’t care for Liv. She just seemed bland. At one point, the girl even says, “I’m a nobody.” Face, meet palm. I mean, who actually says that? C’mon, writers.
The Potential: I can see this show going places! The atmosphere, the effects, the humor, and, most importantly, the title character himself all make Constantine pretty fun. It just needs to slow down! And maybe give us a better sidekick than Liv. We’ll see what happens. If you like Supernatural, you might consider giving this a shot.
My Grade: B+