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Constantine - Advance Preview - Giving Hell...Hell

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Based on the horror comic book series Hellblazer (DC Comics/Vertigo)
Executive Producers: Daniel Cerone, David S. Goyer
Starring: Matt Ryan, Harold Perrineau, Lucy Griffiths, Charles Halford

Giving Hell... Hell
Our favorite exorcist and con-artist John Constantine is coming back to town. NBC's Constantine introduces us to the character in a way that reminds me very much of the source material. And it works.

Initially, I had my doubts if a TV show based on his character would deliver the snark, horror and emotional upheaval necessary to stay faithful to Alan Moore's creation. It's not easy to balance John's characteristics without venturing into the absurd. However any misgivings I had were erased with Matt Ryan's (500 Miles North, Armistice) charismatic portrayal.

When we first meet John Constantine, we immediately see how tormented he feels after a young girl named Astra was taken to hell by a demon. For those of you who are not familiar with the content, I highly recommend to read Hellblazer Issue 11 and the Devil You Know arc, in which the entire backstory of Astra and Constantine becomes much clearer. Several relationships, including his and Ritchie Simpsons (John's friend) tense interactions will make more sense.

The pilot follows John's reintroduction to the supernatural. Along the way he helps Liv Aberdeen (Lucy Griffiths) who is hunted down by a strong demon, because she possesses the ability to see the spiritual world. Liv is the introductory character to Constantine's turbulent dealings, although we also learned that she will leave the series early on and will be replaced by the character Zed, a former lover of John.

Constantine is not a character who's particularly endearing or nice to the people he meets (understatement), which is why his interactions with Manny (Harold Perrineau) become even more exciting. Manny is an original character specifically created for the show. He's also his "stalker" guardian angel who challenges him multiple times, probing for weaknesses and questioning whether John's helpful nature is part of an attempt to "save his own sorry soul" or not. Both characters have chemistry and I would love to see that relationship explored further.
Notable interactions also occur between John and his long-time friend Chas Chandler (Charles Halford), although much of the introduction to Constantine focuses on Liv.

Just one word. Scary.
I didn't really expect the type of horror that leaves me on edge, but the pilot managed to do that. And I'm intimately familiar with NBC's gore fest Hannibal. Constantine is not dealing with people being ripped to shreds at every turn. Instead, we have close ups and light/dark contrasts creating the impression that someone is standing right behind the characters...waiting and watching. The overall atmosphere reminds me of the earliest seasons of the CW's Supernatural.

It's unavoidable, but the most common trope in comic book adaptions is the constant fridging of female characters. I really hope that the show will take a closer look at the victims that fall prey to each and every demon. A big plus in this case is Liv's portrayal and development from the typical damsel in distress to someone who takes her fate into her own hands.

Best scene
Every conversation with Manny and an ending that defines the term badass. Fans will also find several Easter eggs, most notably the helmet of Doctor Fate. Overall, the show can't get any closer to the source material in my honest opinion. Rating: 8/10

Update 13/7/14: Apparently the creators decided that Constantine's bisexuality is not important to the overall plot according to the TCA Panel 2014. Hopefully his newfound "straightness" isn't important either, but I sincerely doubt that. Bi-Erasure is unpleasant for a queer viewer like me.

Favorite Quote:
Liv: "Where do you come from, John?"
Constantine: "The sordid passions of my parents..."

NBC's Constantine premieres on October 24, 2014.

About the Author - Veronika K.
Graduate from the University of Zurich, writer, blogger, TV addict. Favorite shows include Hannibal, Game of Thrones, TVD, Sleepy Hollow, Orange Is The New Black, Spartacus and Supernatural. Very opinionated and concerned with social issues and representation in media. Professional procrastinator.
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