So yes I’ve watched the pilot episode of NBC’s new show Constantine.
It’s based (for those who were unaware) on DC Comics character John Constantine who used to appear in a comic called Hellblazer but more recently has been appearing in a comic called… Constantine. Anyway even if you’re not familiar with the source material basically all you need to know is this is Urban Fantasy with Angels and Demons and magic.
The pilot is extremely fast paced and there is probably an argument here for a two part opener to slow things down a bit. We’re very quickly introduced to Constantine and what he’s all about… magic and demons and stuff. Then we are quickly pointed towards the plot of the episode which revolves around him saving Liv Aberdeen (played by Lucy Griffiths) the daughter of an old colleague.
Along the way we are introduced to Chas (Charles Halford), Constantines mysteriously resilient oldest friend and a guardian angel by the name of Manny (Harold Perrineau) who doesn’t act in a particularly angelic fashion. From there things resolve themselves in a fairly predictable manner. I don’t think this is a show that’s going to blaze drastically new paths somehow but there is certainly plenty of potential for drama in this set up.
Anyone going into the show wanting a faithful adaptation of the old Hellblazer comic will be disappointed. But the show is using a lot of the elements from the comics. Constantine is while, charismatic is clearly a bit of a git. He’s a schemer and manipulator. He’s cocky and sometimes other people pay for that.
This Constantine isn’t seen smoking, but he does carry a lighter and there was a scene were he stubbed out a cigarette so I think we can safely say he is still a smoker. Matt Ryan doesn’t have the right accent, but at least it isn’t American and he inhabits the character of John Constantine very effectively considering it’s only been a single episode. I’m not so sold on Lucy Griffiths, but to be fair her character isn’t really developed much here and so she doesn’t have a lot to work with. Since she’s clearly intended to be a focus of the show that will likely change.
While it may not seem terribly adventurous by the standards of the premium cable channels it doesn’t seem like it’s going to shy away from portraying angels in a less than glorious light. I guess Supernatural has paved the way for that. They also show a darker side to Constantine a couple of times here that has a lot of promise.
In terms of special effects, it all works pretty well. There’s nothing that will blow your mind, but there’s also nothing that spoils the illusion.
So yeah, there are plenty of good elements to build from here. It needs time to explore them. And the viewer needs to be able to set aside the fact that it isn’t a direct clone of Hellblazer. Worth keeping an eye on though.
Constantine is scheduled to air Friday nights on NBC starting October 24th 2014.