That Constantine Sure is a Hellraiser, Amiright?

Constantine Pilot
Constantine (Photo: NBC Universal)

Finally, a show for all of us who took Latin in high school.

Show

Constantine, most Fridays at 10/9c on NBC.

Premise

John Constantine is a supernatural detective, in that he investigates and battles evil supernatural things. Also, he’s got a bit of the supernatural in him, having been to hell and back, and is a master of the dark arts.1

From the people who brought you…

Based on a comic book; reportedly hews more closely to its source material than the 2005 Keanu Reeves movie version. Stuck in the Friday night time-slot-of-death, this looks targeted towards people who know the source material, or maybe folks looking for a vague thrill after the kids have gone to bed.

What Works

Harold Perrineau is in this, playing an (arch?)angel with creepily jaundiced eyes and I’ll watch just about anything he does. The special effects aren’t half bad. Jeremy Davies was spot on in his role, but isn’t listed as appearing beyond the pilot.

What Doesn’t Work

At one point the main character, serving up opportunities for critics everywhere, tells his obviously-gonna-be protege “If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.” Perhaps if I’d paid closer attention I would have been confused, but I followed everything all right – I just didn’t get drawn in.

The pilot was very pilot-y – everything seems paced and plotted solely to introduce elements, and you can learn their names later or never. The closing tag is, I’m assuming, lifted straight from the comics, and it’s kinda cool, puts a spin on the main character that wasn’t really present in the rest of the hour, and comes out of nowhere.

I actually thought this was a perfectly solid series start… until I went and watched the pilot episode of the remarkably-still-running Supernatural. There, characters were fully formed, and interacted naturally even while dealing with the supernatural, and the world was rapidly and effectively built through dialogue and plotting. Constantine is supposed to feature an irreverent2 detective in a sweeping hellscape hidden here on earth, and I only got those adjectives via the press release.

Does This Pass the Bechdel Test?3

Bwah. The female lead spends the entire episode acting overwhelmed and as the audience surrogate, with the manly men types protecting, saving, and explaining everything to her. Oh, wait – she and her soon-to-be-dead neighbor across the hall exchange pleasantries not at all about men as they return home for the night. And the neighbor does get named then, and once she’s dead, and later when she shows up as a possessed corpse. But I’ve forgotten the name. And the female lead’s. So – no.

Verdict

If you’re a fan of the comics you’ll likely hold out until the bitter end, delighting in each reference and eagerly sitting through the beige for the next reference. Everyone else can sit this out, maybe just watch some Supernatural – or Grimm! – instead.

  1. Or at least a competent dabbler; he doesn’t like to brag.  
  2. Their word, not mine.  
  3. 1. Two named female characters 2. have a conversation 3. about something other than a man.  

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About Aaron Mucciolo 206 Articles
He does things. That's all we can say at this time. E-mail: mooch@whatelseison.tv