tek's rating: ½

Constantine, on NBC
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This is a 2014 series based on the comic book series "Hellblazer," which I haven't read. The comics previously inspired a 2005 film, also called Constantine, which I think I liked slightly more than this series (though Hellblazer fans would probably lynch me for saying so). To be clear, I do think Matt Ryan, the actor in the TV show, makes a much better John Constantine than Keanu Reeves did in the movie. But somehow I can't help finding the show a bit dull, most of the time. At least the movie was bizarre enough to be interesting. I mean, I liked the show well enough to keep watching, but I wasn't super disappointed that it was cancelled after the first season.

Anyway, John Constantine is a... dabbler... in the occult arts. There are frequent allusions to something he was involved in, along with a few other people, sometime prior to the start of the series. An event that went very badly, and doomed an innocent young girl to Hell. After that, he checked himself into an asylum. But when the series begins, he discovers that there's some new evil threat emerging, so he checks himself out, to combat the "rising darkness"... and to figure out exactly what that evil is. He has a couple of allies in this, including his old friend Chas Chandler, and a new acquaintance, Zed Martin. There's not much I can say about either of them, but Zed has some psychic powers that she's just beginning to understand. (Chas has an interesting attribute himself, but we don't learn about that til near the end of the season, so I won't spoil it.) There's also an angel named Manny (Harold Perrineau), who occasionally shows up to... actually, I'm not really clear on what he shows up to do. He talks to Constantine about fighting the rising darkness, but he never actually seems to say or do anything helpful, nor even answer any of Constantine's questions. So, mostly Constantine just finds him annoying.

Well... each week, Constantine deals with some new supernatural problem, which may or may not be directly related to the rising darkness that is the overarching plot of the series. And he may get help from one or both of his allies (and sometimes from guest characters). He also has an occasional nemesis, a Voodoo shaman named Papa Midnite. Anyway, it's the kind of show that I normally find interesting and entertaining, but as I said, I'm really not as interested in it as I'd like to be. Constantine himself is a dryly amusing character, and clearly he's cool, in his own way. Zed's also reasonably cool. But the actual stories, in my opinion, are usually just sort of okay, bordering on "meh." I can't even put my finger on why I feel this way, exactly, but I feel no sense of urgency or excitement about either the supernatural threats themselves, or the ways in which Constantine deals with them. It just feels kind of like drudgery, to me, as if it were a regular office job, or something. Which in a way is kind of a good thing... I mean, in theory I like the idea that even supernatural stuff can become routine, especially for someone as world-weary and cynical as John Constantine. Still, I wouldn't mind if the show actually wowed me, now and then.

Actually, I should say my opinion of the show improved, in the latter half of the season. It did occasionally wow me, at least a bit. And the last words spoken in the season finale were a reveal that I found both confusing and intriguing, making me really wish (in that moment) that the show would continue. It was a great way to end a season, and a terrible way to end a series. However, it was later announced that John Constantine would be making an appearance in a season four episode of Arrow. This is probably going to be a one-time thing, but it does technically mean that this series is part of the Arrowverse.

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