Saturday, October 25, 2014


Did you catch NBC's premiere of Constantine last night?  It aired at 9pm here, in the central time zone. I liked it a lot of all the current comic-to-tv series spinoffs I've seen lately, which included, the CW's Arrow, Fox's Gotham (more or less the early days of Batman as a boy), CW's The Flash,  which is watchable, but doesn't exactly hit the sweet spot for me, and Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (which for me is pretty mediocre).   Ok, I guess I should mention AMC's The Walking Dead, which I still enjoy. 

John Constantine  first appeared in the comic, The Saga of the Swamp Thing written by, Alan Moore, more or less in a cameo and later, due to the popularity of the character, part of the cast   Not much is known about him, other than he has mystical origins, he had a cruel wit and elusive personality, and that's about it.  Later, he got his own title on the Vertigo imprint of DC, called Hellblazer written by Jamie Delano, and art by John Ridgway and Alfredo Alcala.   He became more of an insouciant, somewhat amoral occult-dabbler and psychic detective, with a British working-class background.

I'll go out on a limb here though, and say Constantine will be a hit series, IF they can continue with  good storytelling, and yes, it already hooked my attention that well.  For starters, the actor that they've gotten to play John Constantine, energetically played by Welsh-born Matt Ryan, so fits the mold of the character from the comic much better than Keanu Reeves wooden approach to the character, in the movie version. (Just my opinion here.  I know a lot of people that enjoyed that movie, but I was disappointed.)  Constantine is a self-described exorcist beset by demons both within and without him.  The first episode opens in a Northern England sanitarium, as he is undergoing shock treatment. This doesn’t seem to help, causing him to blow up at his therapist before he subdues a possessed young woman who’s painting a bloody masterpiece amid thousands of creepy crawlies.

He's troubled which the episode hints at, which involves him loosing a young girl, Astra,  to the dark forces of hell, which haunts him.  He's brash, and people that have known him in his past  react to him with a certain amount of intimidation.   In the first episode, he is called to help a young woman, Liv, whom is targeted by diabolical forces that want her dead.  You see, Liv, whose late father, Jasper, was a fellow demon-chaser as well and mentor to Constantine, has left her with the same power to “see the world for what it really is.” Which is why the evildoers want her dead. Which means that Constantine must use her as “bait.” 

What I like about the series setup is that we are introduced to several characters from John's past.  We don't quite know the connection or the history of them, but you figure  that we'll find out more history on them as the story unfolds.  All sorts of stuff starts to happen to Liv before Constantine meets up with her, and when they do meet, even more evil things starts to occur.  She later figures out, there's is more to this world than meets the eye - there are parallel planes of existence, ghost trapped on our world hoping to get on to the next world, demons, unexplained phenomena, and she has inherited a powerful sixth sense from her father that she didn't know she had, and is just beginning to grapple with it. 

There seems to be a longer story arc, wherein we'll learn more about other characters, and I suspect at some point, Constantine will rescue the young girl, Asha, from her torment in the dark realm.  It seems like the setup is similar to the X-Files, in that there's short stories or episodes each week, but a long story arc for the season.  At any rate, I liked it a lot, and it's in a perfect time slot on Fridays. 

Oh, and the first episode does have a conclusion where Constantine does help Liv, but I don't want to spoil that for you.  Paired with NBC’s like-minded Grimm on Friday nights, Constantine doubles down on both shape-shifting and puzzlements. Its whiz-bang-boom special effects also might serve as ample enticement.

Constantine make you this pledge:  “I’ll drive your demons away. Kick ‘em in the bollocks and spit on ‘em when they’re down. Leavin’ only a nod and a wink and a wisecrack.” 



At 5:43 AM, Blogger Richard Bellush said...

I'm not familiar with this character or series beyond having heard a passing reference or two. Sounds interesting though, and brings to mind Douglas Adams' novel "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency." Thanks for the mention. The last comic-based TV series I really liked (though I've watched a few others without much enthusiasm) was "The Incredible Hulk" so it's past time for another. "Buffy" doesn't count since the movie preceded the graphic novel.

At 8:55 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

I've heard of Dirk Gently, and knew of it, but they're both pretty different. There for a while PBS was airing some of the series of Dirk. They were pretty odd as what's expected from Douglas Adams, but entertainingly so. Give Constantine a try, you may enjoy it if you enjoy something that's sort of in the horror realm. I read where there were some visual reference to the DC Universe on it, but I wasn't astute enough with the DCU to catch them. One of them was a helmet of Dr. Fate in Constantine's abode. Dr. Fate, The Spectre, Phantom Stranger, and Zatanna are all characters in sort of the same league--sort of mystical or deal someway with the occult, magic, and so forth.

If you're referring to the Hulk TV series with Bill Bixby, I enjoyed those too. I keep hoping maybe the Me Channel will show those since they show the old Batman series as well as Wonder Woman.

At 7:52 AM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

I saw some ads for this one. It looked intriguing. I did catch the Keanu film a few years back. It was good, but felt like it could have been better. I liked all the concepts around the character though. So this one might be a better fit. I think I'll give it a try.

At 9:10 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

I hope they continue to keep the stories good, the atmosphere in horror, the occult angle, good characters, etc. It would be nice to have a show, similar to the X-Files, or something like Buffy or the 80's show, Werewolf, or even Kolchak the Night Stalker to follow each week.


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