NBC Has Ordered Constantine For Full Series
This might actually turn out to be a good thing.
Good news, or potentially bad news, for comic lovers who'd like to see more of what they love on the teevee. You'll recall back in January when it was announced that NBC had commissioned a pilot based on DC Comics character John Constantine? Well the network is apparently pleased enough with the concept it doesn't need to test said pilot, as it's been announced today that a full series has been ordered, planned to air sometime later this year.
The potential bad news? I won't deny that I've been living with a kind of low level anxiety about the prospect of adapting Hellblazer (or is it The New 52's version of John Constantine) for network TV. Despite assertions that the show will "cling" to the source material, the source material in question is some of the most profane and outright blasphemous imaginable. If it were HBO or perhaps even FX or AMC adapting it, I'd rest easy, but one of the 5 broadcast networks? You can't even have a wardrobe malfunction, cough, during the Super Bowl that accidentally introduces people to the concept that women might have breasts without causing a national panic. I fear any network version of Constantine will be so neutered to avoid potential backlash it might as well not even be made.
Except... the good news is that NBC has been hurting for several years running and they're responding by throwing everything at the wall. The result has often been bad, but this is also the same network currently giving us Hannibal, which is not only good but also shockingly unlike anything I would have ever expected to see on a network. Further, while it contains some of the least consistent characterizations and an almost lego-ized plot (just snap new blocks into place as needed, no matter how it looks), Revolution has turned out to be one of TV's most violent shows. All of which is to say that maybe, just maybe, Constantine might not be entirely neutered after all. We'll all find out for ourselves either way.
No word yet on how this series will roll out, whether it be a full 23-24 episode season or the 13-episode season structure common on cable and already used to great effect by NBC with Hannibal. Hopefully it'll be the latter; Shorter-episode seasons are in my opinion superior to the increasingly inflamed appendix that is the traditional length season. They not only spare audiences from the tedium of filler episodes necessary to pad out even the best shows, they also force tighter narratives with more advance planning. That can only help something as mythos heavy as anything based on John Constantine would have to be in order to work.
So it is that, right now, I'm cautiously optimistic about the prospects of Constantine. Feel free to agree, or angrily disagree, in comments.
Constantine will star Matt Ryan in the titular role. Here's the official synopsis:
Based on the wildly popular comic book series "Hellblazer" from DC Comics, seasoned demon hunter and master of the occult John Constantine (Matt Ryan, "Criminal Minds") specializes in giving hell... hell. Armed with a ferocious knowledge of the dark arts and his wickedly naughty wit, he fights the good fight - or at least he did. With his soul already damned to hell, he's decided to leave his do-gooder life behind, but when demons target Liv (Lucy Griffiths, "True Blood"), the daughter of one of Constantine's oldest friends, he's reluctantly thrust back into the fray - and he'll do whatever it takes to save her. Before long, it's revealed that Liv's "second sight" - an ability to see the worlds behind our world and predict supernatural occurrences - is a threat to a mysterious new evil that's rising in the shadows. Now it's not just Liv who needs protection; the angels are starting to get worried too. So, together, Constantine and Liv must use her power and his skills to travel the country, find the demons that threaten our world and send them back where they belong. After that, who knows... maybe there's hope for him and his soul after all. The cast also includes Harold Perrineau and Charles Halford. Writer Daniel Cerone ("The Mentalist," "Dexter") serves as executive producer with David S. Goyer ("Man of Steel," "The Dark Knight Rises"). "Constantine" is produced from Bonanza Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. The show is based upon characters published by DC Entertainment.
I don't think Constantine can work for cable TV. With all the demons and trips to hell and such, they'd go over budget in a few episodes. While zombies (Walking Dead) can be done with some makeup or a mask, demons require CGI or very extravagant practical effects. Even HBO has to cut corners to keep GoT within budget (like Dany's dragons barely showing up in season 2) and that doesn't even have all that much CGI or effects and their budget is way bigger than a network show can ever have.
Meanwhile, NBC doesn't have the balls to finally make a decision concerning Community.
On Topic: NBC, if you stop just churning out shows that are PURELY ratings generators like say... CBS and start forcing people to try more new stuff like Community and Hannibal and whatnot, then you promote more creativity and freedom and comfort in trying new things when it comes to television.
If you wanna compete with AMC/HBO/FX's numbers, do what they're doing and tell the 'standards and practices' to get fucked. So you get hit with a fine because a couple angry housewives and overly fiscally responsible dads got mad their children saw something they didn't like but was not legitimately offensive...
Besides, you'll make it up when advertisers will be fighting for commercial spots during said shows.
I'm just glad these shows are working so well for them. I remember the last time NBC tried to go supernatural in a big way. We got a Dark Shadows remake that only lasted a single season, Nightmare Cafe, featuring Robert Englund, produced by Wes Craven, again only 1 season, and later, House of Frankenstein. None of these shows did particularly well though I ate them up. Now we have Dracula, Constantine, Hannibal, Rosemary's Baby, Grimm, and a Wolfman series on the way. I don't have a Netflix acct but I might get one just to soak up all this goodness through an October binge.
I'm kinda pumped if there is a good budget behind it.
But it is going to bother me constantly if he's not a chain smoker. I mean that is really really going to get under my skin. People in real life smoke, people in TV shows smoke. This comic was never for kids, and while much of the anti-smoking community believes to the point of obsession that even functioning adults can't make decisions for themselves, I believe, or better yet, I have faith in humanity in and so far as I don't think that because one fictional characters actions, the whole planet of earth will start its rotation in the wrong direction the next morning.
Without smoking, It's like a Porn where the Gardener wears a shirt under his overalls, and the police woman who comes to arrest him is presumably wearing underwear under her baggy navy blue trousers. Like it or not it completely undermines the purpose of the content from the start.
I won't deny that I've been living with a kind of low level anxiety about the prospect of adapting Hellblazer (or is it The New 52's version of John Constantine) for network TV.
If it turns out to be the latter, I think it'll probably kill what little faith and interest I have in this. As you say, if HBO or AMC were making it I'd be sitting here with a big, stupid grin on my face and getting very excited about it, but I don't really see how NBC are going to be able to capture what made Hellblazer so great. Time will tell, of course, but even though the only way they could've got an actor who looks more like John than Matt Ryan would have been to go back in time to 1988 and cast Sting, I'm still pretty dubious about this.
Even leaving aside those concerns, I'm sick to death of David Goyer. There are other screenwriters in the world, DC!
I've heard some stuff that doesn't fill me with confidence. John has a sidekick and Chas is going to be a gentle guy with some knowledge of the occult. That's sounding fucking terrible as it is.
I do like that they're sticking with the Asylum backstory. Here's hoping he remains a chain smoker, too.
Eh, the blurb makes it seem like they're just trying to remake Supernatural but with an annoying kid sidekick instead of Dean.
Which sort of misses the point of Hellblazer (and Constantine's earlier bits in Swamp Thing, too). The whole point is that he was evil as a kid, is currently still evil, and has no intention of ever not being evil. His evil just happens to be a self-interested version that would rather not see the world blow up on account of that's where he keeps his stuff, and has little interest in doing things for the Evulz because he's lazy. He was not ever a 'demon hunter' in the 'fight the good fight' sense, he'd kick demons off the plane because they're his professional competitors, and he's better at demoning than they are.
Essentially if they want to rip something off and get the flavor right, they should remake Supernatural starring Crowley instead.
...Nightmare Cafe, featuring Robert Englund, produced by Wes Craven, again only 1 season...
AHAH! Someone else who saw it! I knew I hadn't hallucinated that show. :)