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From the start, Constantine seemed to have the deck stacked against it. An adaptation of a dark, adult Vertigo comic on network television is a pretty hard sell, and the news that the pilot was reshot at essentially to the last minute to start some sort of "new direction" didn't exactly instill much faith. However, in spite of a rocky start, Constantine blossomed into something well worth following, and by the mid-season finale, I was hooked.
Now, let's get the negatives out of the way first. The pilot, I feel, is painfully mediocre, so much so I almost quit the series after it. The direction feels off, the scares and the villain are not very good, and the character of Liv feels utterly superfluous. She mainly just gets freaked out by things and asks a lot of questions, and this is only compounded by how she was written out after the fact.
The other major flaw is that the show runners were clearly hedging their bets on NBC ordering the back nine, and the lack of those episodes is plainly felt when so many plot threads and characters were just left dangling at the end. Seriously, the final scene will both wow and frustrate you in equal measure because of this. This is especially true for me, as I was reading the Hellblazer comics roughly concurrently with the second half of the season, so I could see what they were building up to, at least to an extent.
Now, as for what the show did right? Well, basically everything else. Even as far back as the pilot, I was impressed by Matt Ryan's performance as John Constantine, and he only got better as the series progressed, becoming even grungier and more cynical. Chas eventually got a rather touching and interesting backstory, and Zed, while likeable, was unfortunately a victim of the abridged season. I feel she would have gotten even more to do if the back nine had been ordered and produced. The villains also got much better after the pilot, with fun characters like Papa Midnite and Felix Faust stepping up to plate.
Now, bear in mind, this didn't happen by the second episode. I myself wasn't completely sold until episode four, and it was the mid-season finale that finally grabbed me. I sincerely hope a second season happens. There's too much potential here to let it go to waste.
Note: Well darn, NBC finally cancelled it. :(
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