Pilot Perception: Constantine

Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.

The Show: Constantine, NBC in the U.S. and Global TV in Canada, Fridays at 10/9c

The Pedigree: The show is executive produced by David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight Rises) and writer Daniel Cerone (The Mentalist). The pilot was directed by Neil Marshall (Game of Thrones).

The Cast & How You Know Them: Constantine stars Matt Ryan (Criminal Minds) along with Harold Perrineau (Lost), Charles Halford (True Detective), and Angelica Celaya (Dallas).

The Premise: The show is based on the DC Comics Hellblazer series. John Constantine is an occult detective and demon hunter whose soul has been damned to hell, but he gets pulled back into the fight against evil to try to protect the innocent and maybe redeem himself.

A Taste:


What Works: First: I don’t know any of the source material here, so I’m purely looking at the show on its own terms. I liked but didn’t love it; I doubt it will be a must-see, but it feels like a good fit for fairly mindless Friday night entertainment. Matt Ryan is a likeable, charismatic lead, and I liked the dynamic between his Constantine and Charles Halford’s Chas. I feel like it’s really too early to judge this one — more on that in the next paragraph — but it did make me curious to see what Episode 2 is like.

What Doesn’t: A lot of the pilot revolves around the character of Liv, who will not appear going forward — there will be a new female lead — and so it’s hard to evaluate the chemistry or dynamics of the show. The episode felt old-fashioned and possibly dated at times — if you’d told me this was a show I’d missed ten or fifteen years ago rather than something new, I don’t think I’d have questioned that. Pilots always have a lot to accomplish and so often feel like a bit of a mess, which this one definitely did, though in some cases I wasn’t sure if I was just not understanding things because I don’t know the source material.

Our Favorite Line: “I should really change that to ‘petty dabbler.’ I don’t like to put on airs.”

You Might Like This if you like supernatural procedurals like Grimm (with which NBC has paired it). And not to go too old and obscure with our references here, but the tone reminded me of Blood Ties, which I’m currently catching up on.

If You’re Interested: NBC is rerunning the pilot tonight (Saturday, October 25th) at 9/8c, or catch it on the NBC or Global TV sites or Hulu. Then set your DVR for Friday at 10/9c.

(Photo courtesy of NBC.)

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