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22 November 2014 @ 03:13 pm
TV Series: Constantine  
Thanks to being sick and Hulu's automatic next video function, I watched all the episodes thus far in one sitting.

After Keanu Reeves stomped all over the beloved Hellblazer character, NBC finally decided to give it a shot. On a purely superficial level, the series gets a lot of occultist John Constantine right. He's blond, British, trenchcoated, disrespectful, egotistical, and acerbic as hell. He's very much an anti-hero in this series in that he makes some pretty dark choices, knowing he's completely screwing people over. Someone described Constantine as a magic-wielding con man and that's about what he is. I've read a few Hellblazer comics but never really got into them the way most people do so I largely went into this show judging it purely on the actual quality of the show.

Constantine got off to a bit of a rocky start. The pilot featured John (Matt Ryan) meeting Liv (Lucy Griffiths), a woman who only recently becomes the center of some bizarre supernatural occurances. I had read before watching the pilot that while Liv was supposed to be a regular on the series, they ended up changing directions last minute and writing her out. I can't say I'm sorry about that because I found Liv to be excruciatingly boring character who was mostly there to be wide eyed about the occult world. She was the audience stand in, though the problem was that we didn't really need one. The pilot seemed torn between grabbing fans of Hellblazer and new fans who wouldn't know anything but mainly played to the latter crowd which meant we got a LOT of explanations through voiceovers and explanations to Liv which really dragged down the pacing. By the second episode, we're introduced to Zed (Angelica Celaya) who becomes the new female lead on the series.

The second episode suffered from a lot of bad writing, distasteful usage of Romani culture, and some shoddy acting on Ryan's part. I'll be honest, Matt Ryan's Constantine is actually my least favorite thing about this show. He's definitely getting better with each episode but he tends to overact and for the earlier episodes his snarkiness really came across as obnoxious with little charm. But he is improving so I'm hoping by the end of this season he'll be smoothed out a little. He also has better working chemistry with Celaya as Zed but that could also be that Zed is a much stronger character than Liv. Both women have newly burgeoning psychic powers and are leaning on Constantine to help them understand what's happening. But while Liv was very much a clueless innocent who relied on Constantine for almost every aspect of an occult mystery, Zed is much more street smart and a talented con artist in her own right which puts her on a more even playing field with Constantine on his cases. There's a great bit in episode 3 where Zed is more or less taking over the investigation and Constantine sulks a bit to Chas about how they don't have to keep jumping at her commands...and waits about three seconds before doing just that.

So also part of the team is Chas (Charles Halford), Constantine's oldest friend. And as Constantine says in the pilot, there's a reason why Chas is his oldest friend. I won't spoil it but I do hope the series expands on that a little. Chas, Zed, and Papa Midnite (Michael James Shaw), the latter being the main antagonist so far in the series are all good reasons to watch the show. The latest episode ("Danse Voudou") in particular really shows you the best of this series with Zed and Chas each following their leads in an investigation while Constantine and Midnite shakily put up a truce to run the other half of the case.

Right now the show is running in a kind of Case of the Week format with hints of a larger looming "darknes" coming their way. So in some ways this feels a lot like Supernatural during its early seasons but it's gotten pretty entertaining and not a bad way to pass a few hours when laid up with a cold.