This week the pilot of the upcoming series from NBC found it’s way online 2.5 months before it’s official premiere date (October 24th). Constantine, based on the 1993 DC Comics series Hellblazer is in no way to be confused with the 2005 film staring Keanu Reeves (which was also adapted from the comics). The feature film, which is how most of us know John Constantine stars an American brunette whereas the television seems to be staying true to original graphic British blonde.
Both characters are chain smoking badasses who are forced to fight off demons trying to enter our realm because, well, he’s the only one who can. Even though the film features heavy religious references and use, the TV series seems to be more focused on the demon slaying aspect, even while Constantine meets a obvious angel; abandoning the theory that John can only see/speak to half-demons and half-angels from the eternal planes. Picking apart the series’ pilot, it differs much from the Keanu Reeves movie, but I’m a little biased considering even I haven’t fully read the Hellblazer series.
The pilot opens with Constantine checking himself out of a mental institute, only to hunt down his life long friend’s daughter Liv Aberdine who seems to have gotten herself into a pickle. Even though I can’t find any mention of Liv in the previous story lines, she’s easily convinced that she can not leave Constatine’s side and they spend the rest of the episode fighting off the afterlife to protect themselves. I mean, what else do you expect from an exorcist / demon hunter / self proclaimed “master of the dark arts”?
The series itself feels so far off from the classic 2005 film that it through me for a loop. Expecting more badassery from NBC (I mean, have you seen Hannibal?) I was a little surprised that I couldn’t stop comparing it to the short lived show Reaper (2007). Even my lovely girlfriend (who has not seen the movie) compared it more to Supernatural or “mildly like Ghost Whisperer” (which I have no idea what the latter is – but I’m guessing it’s nothing like the movie). Hopefully the pilot is only more PG-13 to attract the younger viewers considering demon hunting is not something that should be provided lightly. Especially since Reaper already did that.
Despite the direction being a little off and a little more light-hearted than expected, I did not hate the pilot. I’m having a hard time picturing the show becoming a hit, but it looks like it’s worth the chance – which is something NBC is not found of. Of course a pilot is hard to judge an entire show, and no one should give up after one episode but I’d like to leave a warning to not become to attached to the idea of a demon-slayer in prime-time television because they never seem to last and judging the pilot, we may only get one season.