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'Constantine' Review: This Show Will Freak Your Freak

10/23/2014 04:43 EDT | Updated 12/23/2014 05:59 EST
Shaw Media

I have a few fears. I don't like birds, particularly flocks of them. In fact, I don't really like teems of anything (ants, spiders, flies or any other creepy-crawlers). Clowns, gnomes and porcelain dolls aren't tops on my list, and I can't stand ventriloquist dummies and nutcrackers (there's something about their mouths that make me want to rip out my eyes). My biggest issue, however, might be eyes themselves -- one (like a cyclops) or three or more. (When there's anything with an eye in between a pair of eyes? Thud. I'm dead.) Yes, I'm a weirdo but I have yet to find anything to un-freak me out. And my fear made "Constantine" tough to watch.

First off, the pilot begins with John Constantine (Matt Ryan, "Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior") in a psychiatric hospital -- so that's never good. Thing is, he's there by his own volition. Constantine is tormented by a dark past, haunted by a girl he couldn't save, thus sentencing his own soul to hell. But he has one of his demon-saving experiences while in the asylum and winds up back in the game, saving unsuspecting people from evil, dark things.

A few months back, when Ryan was in town for Shaw Media's Fall TV up-front, he pointed out that Constantine doesn't have superpowers, per se; rather, he has abilities, but doesn't always use them to his advantage.

"He's a master of the occult, he knows everything about demons, magic, and witches, he knows sorcery and has lots of different spells," Ryan told me. "But what's interesting about him is he doesn't use that stuff much. He uses his wit, his cunning and his prowess, and likes to manipulate people.

"That's the most interesting thing about him," Ryan added. "He's not just someone who uses superpowers; he's somebody who actually uses his human qualities to get what he wants. But he's also someone that will sacrifice anybody to get what he wants."

He admitted that Liv (Lucy Griffiths, "True Blood") "is the actual superhero," but the character is no longer a series regular due to a reported change in the show's creative direction. Griffiths will leave the show early on and while the role won't be recast, a different DC Comics character will replace her: Zed (Angélica Celaya, "Dallas"). And that's fine by me as Griffiths was the pilot's weak link. Of course, we should be thankful for her bringing John back to the land of the living (and the dead) but for the most part, she was unremarkable.

There are other characters in the mix, including an angel (Harold Perrineau, "Lost") who will likely confound you as much as he does John. Constantine also has a comrade in Chas (Charles Halford, "True Detective") and might get the occasional assist from Ritchie (Jeremy Davies, "Lost") but the real star is Ryan. He's scruffy and mouthy, angry and sarcastic, self-deprecating yet cocky, and very, very British; his fan base will easily go from modest to legion-like as the actor is a blast to watch.

"Constantine"'s visual effects are impressive (and I'm not just basing that on the screams I let out during my viewing) and the series looks to balance both the mythology and the creep factor. Some of the sequences are as scary as the ones you might see on "American Horror Story" or "The Walking Dead": pretty impressive for network television. And that leads me back to the eyes issues. They're everywhere (the bad ones, I mean). White eyeballs, Perrineau's yellow contact lenses, the main villain's black pools (which reminded me of The X-Files, shudder) ... it's a freaky-deaky eyeball extravaganza. So if you're cool with that kind of thing, then Constantine is the show for you. If you're like me, why not join me from behind my couch cushion? Because that's where I'll be watching it for the rest of the season.

"Constantine" premieres Friday, October 24 at 10 p.m. ET on Global and NBC.

Shaw Media TV Fall/Winter 2014-15