Starring| Matt Ryan (John Constantine); Harold Perrineau (Manny); Angélica Celaya (Zed Martin); Charles Hatford (Chas Chandler)
The premise is taken directly from the first volume of reissued Hellblazer comics, which I seriously recommend. John Constantine is a professional exorcist and has a string of bodies behind him, including a young girl whom he doomed to hell. Teaming up with Chas, an old friend who can't exactly die, and the mysterious Zed, who's also a psychic of sorts, he travels the country stopping the Rising Darkness.
It had a slow start thanks to the hiccup with the main female lead and then hit another bump when it got a shortened season (although season two is still a possibility, and one I'm rooting for). It finally hit its stride around episode six, and peaked in episode seven with an episode that distinctly reminded me of a classic Supernatural episode. Now that the plot is finally moving it should attract a regular viewership.
The characters are likable in that roguish way anti-heroes are supposed to be. The sympathetic one is Zed, the quiet one Chas, and the snarky one, of course, is John himself. The actors fit into their roles, and I actually can't complain about any of them (which is a nice surprise). Annoyingly, Zed and Chas never seem to share the same air space, switching episodes back and forth as if the directors can't bear to take some of the spotlight away from John. Having a balance of the three could strengthen the show and lead to quicker character growth. As for the supporting characters, they seem a little gullible. This show has a bit of leeway, getting to play in the sandbox that is the magic side of DC comics, and should take a fuller advantage of that.
The cinematic quality is pretty good. Camera work nice, although every once in a while a strange angle is thrown in that makes me scratch my head. It is gory, and I would recommend it for mature viewers due to this. If you can handle Hannibal you're probably fine. Personally, I revel in the gore, very few shows tackle it these days. In all honestly, I would have preferred to see this kind of show on a movie channel where the characters can go wild in their dark, gritty world. For an NBC production, it's very good.
I'd give it an overall rating of a B+, but I'm a bit biased since I'm a fan of the source material. It's not too late to catch up on it before the season picks up again on January 16th.