Constantine Series Premiere Review

And with the premiere of Constantine, this fall’s jam-packed lineup of comic book shows is complete. Bringing the supernatural side of the DC Universe to the screen, “Non Est Asylum” introduced us to the world of occult detective John Constantine. And though this episode suffered from the usual pilot problems – as well as a reshot ending – I find myself excited to journey through the other side on a weekly basis.

The biggest reason to be enthusiastic is star Matt Ryan. While there was strong evidence of this in the original trailer, viewing the full pilot makes it clear that Ryan has perfectly captured the essence of John Constantine. He brings the classic character to life with just the right amount of snark and charm; he can be an undeniable jerk at times, but you just can’t help but be drawn in by how likable he is. If nothing else, it’ll be worth it to tune in on a weekly basis just to see one of my favorite comic characters brought to life so well, even if his trademark chain smoking has been left on the page.

Much like Sleepy Hollow, the show also introduces a clear thread to drive the series forward as more and more demonic activity has begun to happen all over the world. And, with the damnation of Astra still weighing on his mind, Constantine has a reason to get out there and keep fighting. It doesn’t hurt that he might be able to save his own soul along the way. Structurally, this’ll certainly mean a lot of case-of-the-week episodes, but hopefully we can get a fair bit of serialization along the way.

As far as what doesn’t work, well, the special effects are pretty iffy. Honestly, I don’t mind this as much if the characters and story are strong, but it’s still a problem for a show like this, especially if it’s going to be throwing demons and spells around each week. Hopefully, the quality can pick up as they get a handle on the show’s visual style.

And then there’s the elephant in the room, the dropping of Lucy Griffiths’ Liv from the lead female role. It’s not like there was some huge behind-the-scenes drama, the creators just wanted to provide Constantine with a partner more well-versed in the dark arts. It’s not a big deal, but it does make the reshot ending stick out a bit. The pilot spends a lot of time building up Liv’s importance and potential, only for her to be dropped by the end. Hopefully, there’s still room for her to reappear in some capacity down the road, as I did not mind the character as much as some critics.

Overall, though, I enjoyed the premiere of Constantine quite a bit. It’s true that the show will still need to find a way to stand out among similar shows like Supernatural, Grimm and the aforementioned Sleepy Hollow, but Matt Ryan’s strong performance and the source material leave me hopeful.

What did you think of this week’s premiere? Let me know in the comments!