Preacher: Season One (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD) is based on a comic book series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon but it’s no superhero adventure. Developed for TV by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg with Breaking Bad veteran Sam Catlin, it stars Dominic Cooper as Jesse Cutler, a former criminal who has taken up his father’s position of preacher in his hometown of Annville, Texas, a sunbaked town run by the local cattle baron (Jackie Earl Haley) who wants to expand his business on the land the church currently occupies. While he struggles to help his parishioners, he’s touched by God with the power to command others to do his bidding, a gift that comes with costs (including two angels who are ready to kill him to put the power back into the bottle from which it escaped). Meanwhile his former lover and partner-in-crime Tulip (Ruth Negga, star of Loving) attempts to lure him back to a life of crime and a wild, hard-drinking Irish vampire named Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) literally drops from the sky and becomes Jesse’s sidekick.
The original comic book series opened with the three hitting the road to find God in the first issue. The TV series spends the entire first season working up to that point, filling out the town and establishing the sins that Jesse hopes to redeem in his quest. The first episode is an action-packed blast and the season finale takes a sharp turn into unexpected revelations and hopeless nihilism. It’s a portrait of a community that loses faith and Jesse decides to take matters into his own hands to put things right or tear the whole thing down.
10 episodes on DVD and Blu-ray, with two featurettes and deleted scenes. The Blu-ray includes two additional featurettes and a gag reel.
Constantine: The Complete Series (Warner Archive, Blu-ray, DVD) collects the first and only season of the supernatural series adapted from DC Comics’s “Hellblazer” and its anti-hero John Constantine, previously played in a seriously underrated feature film by Keanu Reeves. The TV incarnation is truer to the comic book original. Played by Matt Ryan as a cockney bloke with arcane knowledge, a flinty manner, and a mission to protect the Earth from manifestations of evil, something he is a little too familiar with (yep, he’s got a dark past and sins that he’s paying for), he’s got the loose hanging tie, the rumpled overcoat, and the grown-out bleach job of an aging eighties new wave club kid. This incarnation gives him a loyal sidekick (Charles Halford as Chas Chandler) and a new recruit (Angélica Celaya as Zed Martin, who has visions) to target manifestations, and Harold Perrineau is an angel who flies down from the heavens to encourage his continued vigilance.
Alan Moore created John Constantine in his run of “Swamp Thing” and Garth Ennis elevated him to featured status in “Hellblazer,” making him a something of a supernatural private eye called on for cases involving demons, ghosts, dark magic, and other dark manifestations of things not of this earth. Filmmaker and Game of Thrones veteran Neil Marshall (he helmed the epic battle episodes “Blackwater” and “The Watchers on the Wall”) directs the pilot and helps set the tone and style of the TV incarnation developed by veteran producer Daniel Cerone (Charmed, The Mentalist) and superhero movie specialist David S. Goyer (Blade and The Dark Night trilogy). The series changed direction immediately after the first episode, a recalibration that drafted Zed into the team for both sex appeal and dramatic sparks (not romantic, merely personality clash), and it developed into an interesting show by the end of its initial 13-episode order but it failed to grow an audience and was cancelled, despite a campaign by a fervent fan-base and the success of the CW superhero shows. But it wasn’t the final appearance of Ryan’s John Constantine. He returned as a guest in the fourth season of Arrow in the episode “Haunted.” Could future appearances be in his dark stars? I hope so. It could have been a great counterpart to Lucifer (another character from DC’s supernatural universe created by Alan Moore), providing a more serious tone and the opportunity for interesting cross-overs. Here’s hoping the creators of Lucifer see fit to draft him into their stories.
13 episodes on Blu-ray and DVD, with a short cast and creator Q&A from the 2014 Comic-Con panel, the half-hour “DC Comics Night at Comic-Con 2014” (Constantine shares the spotlight with Gotham, The Flash, and Arrow), and “Constantine: On the Set,” a brief introduction with Ryan and the creators.
Teen Wolf: Season 5, Part 2 (Fox, DVD) of popular MTV teen horror series concludes the epic struggle against The Dread Doctors, a dark story about mysterious scientists conducting Frankenstein-like experiments on high school students with a mix of science and supernatural.
Scott (Tyler Posey), the alpha wolf of the team of both super powered and human friends, finds that his team is splitting apart in conflicts and secrets, notably a fight with his best friend Stiles (Dylan O’Brien), who struggles after he kills in self-defense. It only makes them all more vulnerable while a rival shapeshifter puts together his own team of powered teenagers made of up cast-off experiments of the Dread Doctors. The mystery revolves around The Beast of Gevaudan, a legendary creature that was blamed for over 100 violent deaths in 18th century France, and Scott must pull together his entire team—including the adults that share their secrets—to face the monster.
This is teen melodrama with supernatural complications, a self-aware and stylish production with attractive, sexually active teens, but the show has also gotten darker over time and the ominous Eichen House, a hospital with all the charm of a gothic insane asylum turned chamber of horrors, takes on an even more brutal aspect this season.
10 episodes on three discs on DVD with a featurette.