Published on November 11th, 2014 | by Brad0
Constantine – The Devil’s Vinyl review
After a slight dip last week, Constantine gets right back into the groove with The Devil’s Vinyl. In a creepy cold opening, a woman finds a record hidden in the wall of an old, abandoned house, and brings it to a Chicago record producer to verify its authenticity. Despite warning him on multiple occasions not to listen to it, he finds the temptation too great, and pops on his headphones. Within seconds, he’s driven to drive a screwdriver into his neck, screaming “Don’t make me do it!” This show ain’t messing around. Between Constantine and Hannibal, something rather grim has gotten into NBC of late, and I’m happy to see it continue.
I think this format of the cold opening with supernatural goings on followed by John and Zed going to investigate is going to be the norm for Constantine, and I’m pretty much OK with that. Gives it the feel of a 21st century, demonology-themed X-Files, and I can’t find fault in a TV show being like the X-Files. How John and Zed compare to Mulder and Scully remains to be seen, but on early evidence they’re a good pair. A lot more spark and banter between the two this week, and they worked as a very effective team.
This week’s mystical McGuffin is the record from that opening scene, a modern artefact dating back only as far as the 1930s. A Chicago blues musician who sold his soul to the devil was recording one night when Old Scratch came for his due. The encounter was caught on vinyl, and the devil’s very voice inhabits the record, forcing those who come into contact with it to spread it like a disease, and those who hear it to commit violent suicide. So who on Earth would want such a thing?
Why, our newly introduced recurring antagonist Papa Midnite, of course! Originally introduced in Hellblazer #1, Midnite is a voodoo priest-cum-gangster, with whom John has occasionally tangled over the years. Each has a grudging respect for the other’s ability, and utter disdain for how they use it. Michael James Shaw steps into the role, and he creates a very imposing presence. He’ll probably wind up being the villain for this first series, and on this evidence, it’s going to be fun watching he and John sparring.
Constantine is getting into a good groove with its supernatural procedural format. Matt Ryan continues to knock it out of the park as John, and his chemistry with Angelica Celaya is great to watch. The visual effects work has been very good so far, creating some genuinely unnerving images. Big plus points for the morgue scene where John uses a Hand of Glory to briefly resurrect the producer from the opening in order to get some details from him, causing the rest of the recently deceased to wake up kicking and screaming in their body bags. It also knows when to hold back, though, with blood-stained sheets covering bodies outside a club with dozens of pairs of protruding feet giving a sense of the carnage that went on inside.
The Devil’s Vinyl is a good, solid episode, and Constantine is shaping up to be a good, solid show. Definitely worth sticking with.