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SDCC 2014: Reviewing Constantine Pilot

During last year’s preview night, I wrote LITERALLY the most scathing review for which I had ever put fingers to keyboard. The CW’s The 100, despite being spectacularly panned by me (yeah…I’m not really that important in the grand scheme of things), remains on the airways and even has a panel at this year’s Comic Con. During preview night two years ago, Bruce deuced upon Arrow, and Arrow is now one his favorite shows on television as well as a hit for the network. So what show would we hate this year that would get life everlasting?

Turns out….none. None shows.

Bruce checked out the pilot episode for the Arrow spinoff, The Flash, and loved it. And I checked out the pilot for NBC’s take on the Hellblazer comics character of John Constantine in this fall’s new show Constantine.

This show is awesome! It’s another daring step for NBC’s Friday night lineup that already includes a man battling fairy tale monsters on Grimm and another man murdering people and eating them on Hannibal. Constantine involves the struggles of John Constantine, a hard drinking, hard smoking (even though the network won’t show him PHYSICALLY smoking a cigarette [they do show him rather aggressively putting one out at a bar {he also plays with a zippo lighter in several scenes <and why have a zippo if you don’t smoke?>}]) exorcist and “petty dabbler” in the dark arts. He’s not your usual knight in shining armor superhero. Most other DC heroes basically consider Constantine to be just a step above a villain. His soul is damned to Hell after damning the soul of a child there before him. But he wants to fix that. He’s a broken man. A man that uses humor and brashness as a façade to mask the fear and sadness that he has underneath. And when I say that Matt Ryan NAILS IT as John Constantine, I truly, truly mean it. None of this Keanu Reeves bulls&%t! Ryan’s Constantine is exactly what everyone that’s ever read the comic could ever hope for. He IS the living embodiment of this character. The quips. The bravado. The scruff. The trenchcoat and thin black tie. It’s all there. And it’s all perfect.

But not everything is perfect in the world of Constantine. There’s Lucy Griffiths. She plays the part of Liv Aberdine in the pilot. This was meant to be the role of the main female protagonist. She’s a character that is the audience’s portal into this world that we don’t fully understand yet. She’s uninitiated, so she asks questions, and John explains the answers, not just to her but to the entire audience as well. “AH! So that’s why my blood pools on a map! And what’s that called? OH! Now, I know!” Had Constantine just started using these terms and actions without explaining them, we’d have all been lost. Don’t get me wrong! Lucy Griffith (who just got away from a bunch of vampires on True Blood only to get stuck with demons and spirits) does a great job in the pilot episode. It’s just that she’s doing a great job with a bad character. This is even a sentiment that the producers shared as they removed Lucy Griffith from the show.

Aside from this one misstep, the pilot episode for Constantine is terrific. But the problem with pilots is that they aren’t always an indicator of things to come. Look at Arrow and The 100. Things can change drastically over the course of the first handful of episodes. And things have already changed drastically to the status quo for Constantine. Time (and more episodes) will tell for the freshman NBC series, but the first episode, similar to the actor portraying its lead, NAILS IT!

 

Constantine Pilot Episode: **** out of ****


Geeks






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