With the popularity of comic book inspired TV shows and movies one of the most consistent challenges is doing the characters justice. Things that work in books or comics often don’t translate well to live action, further complicated by the constant balancing of the expectations of different sets of fans from the hardcore originals, current zealots and the newly converted by the move on to the big screen.
While fans have flocked to shows like Arrow, Gotham and Netflix’s Daredevil, one outstanding convert to the small screen runs the risk of falling by the wayside, namely NBC’s Constantine. Constantine brings DC Comics Hellblazer to life following the adventures of Warlock, Exorcist and former Punk frontman John Constantine in his battle against the forces of darkness. While many will know the highly entertaining 2005 Keano Reeves/Rachel Weisz action romp the NBC show has been far truer to the look and feel of the original comic books even bringing in images from the comics into the series. Fronted by Matt Ryan (Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behaviour, The Tudors) the show really manages to bring the scouse anti-hero into, brilliant, foul mouthed, wise cracking, technicolor life. While getting off to a shaky start the show very quickly picks up the pace with some wonderfully paced episodes and the growing threat of the ‘Rising Darkness’.
Fans of shows such as the X-Files, Supernatural (Hell even Charmed) will find plenty to enjoy in this colourful show. While Ryan does good work fronting the show, it’s the performances of Harold Perrineau (Sabotage, Sons of Anarchy, Zero Dark Thirty), as the angel Manny, and Charles Halford (Law & Order: SVU, NCIS Los Angeles, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), as Constantine’s long suffering best friend Chas, that provide the contrast to help the show really shine. With each character’s depths being gently exposed, the result is a cast of 3D characters, rather than comic book stereotypes, who are easy to empathise with. Something that is important. as in a less well written show John Constantine would be an easy to hate, but with the depth and compassion shown just when you least expect it the depths the character sinks in order to do the right thing become all the more understandable.
So as you can see, I’ve very much enjoyed the first season offering from NBC (I caught the series on Amazon Prime here in the UK). However, after a great deal of umm-ing and ahh-ing NBC have decided not to commission a 2nd season, because of lack lustre viewing figures in the US. The show’s Co-Creator Daniel Cerone (The Mentalist, Dexter, Dirty Sexy Money) has been rallying the troops on the internet as fans work to keep the show alive.
Stars from shows such as Arrow and the Originals are offering to guest star, and possible pushes to networks such as CW_Network, Netflix or Amazon.
Is the show worth saving? In my opinion YES. It manages to combine drama, horror, thrills and comedy in a very slick package. The characters are engaging, the plot twists neatly woven into the story and the fan base of over 4 million that is steadily growing. As a huge X-Files fan, I was overjoyed to hear that David Duchovny & Gillian Anderson would be teaming up again, but if push came to shove I would actually prefer to see Constantine continue rather than the resurrection of Mulder & Scully. The X-Files has had its day in the son but Constantine offers something far fresher. If you’ve not had a chance to try Constantine I heartily recommend binge watching the season on NBC.com or Amazon Prime.