October 27 2014

Constantine? Pretty Good.

So, a while back I wrote this.

Watched the premiere on the DVR last night, and I have to say it really was good.

There’s some they got right.

  • Matt Ryan has the character down. He could push it a bit further and be a bit more of a bastard, but I chalk that up to script and not to the actor
  • The mythos is there: Trench coat? Check. Newcastle? Check. Nergal? Check. Mother dead in childbirth/resulting daddy issues? Check. (And a lovely little easter egg with the loving, lingering shot on Dr. Fate’s helmet.)
  • Manny: new character, but a clever way of handling the big backstory of the battle between heaven and hell while demonstrating that the “good guys” may not be all that pure of motive — an essential piece of the story, to my mind.

 

There’s some they got not quite right.

  • Atlanta? I realize it’s an American series, but there’s a very distinct flavor that comes from the British mysticism that defined Hellblazer that’s hard to convey on this side of the pond. Doesn’t kill the opportunities for storytelling. There’s enough fracturing in the collective American psyche to fuel all sorts of hellish storytelling. But the change in venue will take some getting used to.
  • Chas. Love this character. Love this actor. And the limey bastard just isn’t himself without his loyal cabbie. But when was resurrection part of his schtick? I remember him as just another magic dabbler of an even more petty variety. The immortality thing seems an odd choice. Maybe the show runners thought he needed a hook to make him worthy of our care? But what always made Chas a great character was his regular bloke who had enough inner strength to stick by Constantine when he was at his lowest/bastard-est.
  • Smoking. I get it. Not something we want to glorify on American TV. But “Dangerous Habits” was a great bit of storytelling, and rumor has it they want to adapt it for the show — which makes it quite possibly a weaker story without John’s vice on full display. The nervous tic with the Zippo lighter is, in general, a nice substitute — but only if they steer clear of the cancer storyline later.

On the whole, what’s right balances out the odd choices. I’m looking forward to watching it find its groove.

October 27 2014

from The Hole in the Coal-Black Sky (excerpt of a work in progress)

Charlie sat down, opened the small velvet bag that held the more delicate of her failsafe’s tools, and withdrew from it a jeweler’s glass which she proceeded to hold up to her left eye, squinting to hold it in place. She then tipped out the tiniest of screwdrivers and picked it up between her thumb and forefinger. Under the unblinking gaze of the jewelers glass, a miniature universe in brass opened itself up before her eyes. She focused her attention on the path of the clockwork from arbor to spring and out through wheels and bars and oscillators, and tried to hear the toy cricket’s song. To her unconscious ear, it sounded out a most delicate and complicated tune, a tiny fugue so delicately orchestrated that she had to strain to keep track of all its parts. After several minutes of staring and listening, she at last heard the song in its entirety, heard where its themes meant to go, heard how it should end, and glared like a manic conductor out over the orchestra of clockwork in search of the instrument that had stopped pulling its weight, thus making the entire symphony grind to a halt.

Charlie frowned, now, as she followed the music again and again until at last her eyes settled on one tiny flywheel in the neighborhood of the cricket’s hind legs that had slipped on its shaft. She closed her eyes for a moment to give them a rest, took a deep breath, and then started her work as she slipped the head of the screwdriver through the cricket’s innards with the greatest of care and gently levered the offending gear back into place. Charlie let out a deep and satisfied sigh as she felt the cricket’s song return to order, then took up the shining cover of the toy’s abdomen with a care that neared reverence and screwed it back into place with graceful, practiced fingers. Continue reading

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