The cancellation of Constantine after a 13 episode first series arrived before I had even watched the first episode. As I sat to watch the series, I knew that there was not going to be a second. I knew that I was watching a discontinued series and that no matter how much I enjoyed it, there would be no more. It was this aspect of finality that I found most fitting and conducive to the character of Constantine.
The character is great. In a world of anti-heroes, here is a character who makes you smile at flouting the rules and feel content at the resolution he provides. A balance between being a hero and being a complete tosser is effectively maintained. He is self-righteous and arrogant with an egotistical sense of self-interest. The character is evidence of environment effecting character. Matt Ryan does a great job of portraying Constantine in appearance, attitude and accent. However, the cancellation seems reasonably well deserved. While the supporting cast are good, the characters they portray are either too conflicted (Papa Midnight) or just a bit boring (Zed).
The series follows the plot of the Keanu Reeves film with Manny the angel bringing ultimate evil to Earth, or, at least he would have if there had been a second series. I could have gone for a Fringe season 5 or Walking Dead scenario. Forget all this trying not to let the ultimate evil take us over. Let’s start with the ultimate evil, completely change the supposedly contemporary scenario and see where the characters go. Instead of having Constantine fighting against the rising evil, let’s have him try to fight for a rising goodness. Change the context, because when it comes down the reason why it got cancelled, it didn’t do anything new. Whether you are looking at the plotlines or filming, the series relies on you having watched every other supernatural crime drama and consequently lacked a self-definition that would validate its existence.
Take other comic book TV shows: Gotham, Daredevil and Arrow. Gotham gives us a pre-Batman world focused (supposedly) on Jim Gordon before he takes the role we all know him for: Commission and advocate of Batman. Daredevil gives us an origin story of both a hero and a villain presented with some amazing cinematic sequences. Arrow presents a lesser known comic book character and changes the dynamics you might have known even if you had read the comics. Does anyone actually say ‘the Green Arrow’ at anytime in the whole series?
Worst of all was the final episode. For a season finale it was poor. Light on anything but a heart struck hill-billy with a devil fetish. It seems like they knew they had been cancelled and just gave up. I would have expected the opposite, if you knew this was the end, let’s make is big, brass and exciting. As for Manny’s final confession of his evil intentions to Papa Midnight, who cares?
And unfortunately, when it comes down to it, that’s the best that can be said for Constantine.