RogerBW's Blog

Constantine season 1 18 April 2015

2014-2015: John Constantine, broken magician, must protect the innocent from magical threats.

This is a comic adaptation. While I've read some of Hellblazer, it was many years ago, and I didn't find it all that memorable. So I'm reviewing this purely as a TV series (even if I find it laughable that with all the gore and horror in this show the few occasions on which Constantine is actually seen to smoke were what required major negotation with the network).

So Constantine (always pronounced in the American manner even with a final "-een" although the character's still portrayed as British) is competent at magic but has limited power and a Dark Past. He has a pretty female sidekick (because hey, it's TV), and a few old friends he hasn't yet used up. The basic setup is threat of the week (a plot device says "something dodgy is happening in this town", they go there and get into trouble over their heads, then pull off a last-minute reversal at great personal cost), with a vaguely connecting thread that the "Rising Darkness" is happening and all sorts of magical nasties are suddenly more powerful than they used to be. Other recurrent themes are magic as drugs (it's bad for you and everyone around you), and no easy answers.

It's all fairly toned down because it's being broadcast on an American network, but the show does its best to present tough situations and horrible fates. Special effects are very common, but are generally well-integrated into the show rather than being separate set-pieces, so there's never any loss of emotional connection with the characters.

In the end, it's an enjoyable time-waster but there's nothing terribly challenging here. The comics may have been better. At the time of writing the show has not yet been formally cancelled, but ratings have been poor, there was no extension of the original 13-episode order, and at this point in the year I suspect that everything which is going to be renewed has been.

(Later: Yup. It was cancelled.)


  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 10:58am on 18 April 2015

    A piece went around the net the other day to say that Constantine has not been cancelled. However, I've not seen any corroboration from other sources.

    I quite liked the original comics, so I'm very much looking forward to seeing this series.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 11:03am on 18 April 2015

    The studio people have said they'll make a formal decision at the end of the month, but I suspect this is just a way of keeping a lid on the fan outrage for a while. If they were actually to announce a renewal at that point, they'd be scrambling to get into production, with the pool of crew and cast already depleted by the shows that started production on a normal schedule.

    Remember that NBC had an option on nine more episodes to go with the 13 they'd already paid for, and didn't take it. That's not a thing you do with a show you aren't cancelling.

  3. Posted by Owen Smith at 04:25pm on 18 April 2015

    So if renewals have happened, did Agent Carter get renewed?

  4. Posted by RogerBW at 10:46am on 19 April 2015

    Agent Carter isn't produced on the normal season schedule; they can afford to wait until late summer to start acquiring crew and locations. (The first season was filmed from late September 2014 to early January 2015.)

    The original ordering decision was made in May 2014, so I'd expect to hear something about renewal by the end of May this year.

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