The biggest thing missing from Peacock’s new “John Wick”-derived series is John Wick.
Understandably, because his name in all the titles, John Wick is the charismatic centerpiece of all four “John Wick” movies. As played by Keanu Reeves, he is their best feature.
Without him, Peacock’s new three-part series, “The Continental,” struggles to find a central character as riveting as he is, and comes up short.
“The Continental” derives its title from the name of the famed hotel for international contract killers called The Continental in all the “John Wick” movies.
The hotel, located in Lower Manhattan, is managed by the enigmatic Winston Scott, played in all the movies by Ian McShane.
The main reason why John Wick is sitting this one out: He is either a tiny tot or not yet born in the time frame depicted in “The Continental” for this is the origin story of Winston Scott, not John Wick.
The show takes us back to New York City in the 1970s, an era that is increasingly depicted in contemporary TV shows as a garbage-strewn hellscape with baddies lurking in every doorway and down every alley.
In this way, the New York of “The Continental” resembles some fanciful Gotham City in a Batman movie more than the real New York City of the ’70s.
New York may have been down at the heels and a little rough around the edges back then, but it was far from the way it is presented in this show and others like it.
In the first installment of “The Continental,” we learn that the hotel is under the control of a man named Cormac O’Conner, played by Mel Gibson who gets top billing in the show’s opening title sequence.
The young Winston Scott (Colin Woodell, above photo) is enjoying the good life in London when he is suddenly assaulted, drugged and transported against his will to New York under orders from O’Conner.
Winston ends up at The Continental for a face-to-face meeting with O’Conner, who just happens to be his father. Before long, Winston’s brother enters the mix too.
The central plot line has to do with something priceless that Winston’s brother, Frankie (Ben Robson), stole from their father.
And so, it begins as the brothers encounter gangs of heavily armed bad guys who they somehow overcome with their puny handguns and a few well-placed elbows in the bad guys’ faces.
The TV Blog has written occasionally about the phenomenon of mortal human beings in action TV shows who somehow elude injury or death simply by jumping away from hundreds of rounds of automatic gunfire.
This happens so often in “The Continental” that you wonder if these brothers have superpowers they’re not telling us about.
Besides the trash blowing in the wind all over the city streets, the show re-creates the ’70s with a lot of period cars and a soundtrack featuring songs from the likes of ZZ Top, Yes and other super groups of the era.
While “John Wick” fans will find “The Continental” attractive enough to watch all the way through -- if they happen to subscribe to Peacock -- the feeling one gets while watching the show is that it pales in comparison to the movies.
Having said that, fans will be glad to hear that O’Conner’s right-hand man is a very young, self-disciplined assistant named Charon, whose much older self was played in all four “John Wick” movies by the late Lance Reddick.
Another nice touch: In much of the first episode of “The Continental,” Winston Scott gets to drive around in a vintage 1970s Mustang.
It’s the same kind of car that was stolen from John Wick in the first “John Wick” movie, and started John Wick on the path to killing an estimated 439 assailants in four movies.
“The Continental” starts streaming on Friday (September 22) with Episode One on Peacock. Episode Two drops a week later on Friday, September 29, and Episode Three drops after that on Friday, October 6.