The Trials of Constantine


Well that was disappointing…

So, I recorded and watched the pilot episode of Constantine, after looking forward to it for months. All I can say is… Meh. Which is too bad; so far this season, DC had been batting pretty good. The Flash got off to a good start, and so did Gotham. I had high hopes. So what went wrong?

Okay, well first off Constantine just didn’t scare me. For all the occult and horror elements, it feels pitched as an action-show. By that I mean that the main character is on top of things and doesn’t come across like he’s skating on the edge of disaster at all. He’s not worried, so I’m not worried.

Oh, you say, but he’s tormented. Nope, not that either. Sure he checked himself into an insane asylum hoping that professionals could drive him insane enough to forget. But he never feels actually, you know, driven enough to check himself into an asylum and have volts shot through his brain.

Then there’s his co-star, Beth? Oh yeah, Liv–I remember because of the blood and cockroaches. She goes from “This can’t be real!” to “Okay, this is real and I can trust this guy with no razor and a trench-coat,” in about two scenes. Um, okay.

At least he looks like John Constantine? A valid point, given that the last one looked like this:
Constantine 1 But here’s the thing: say what you will about Keanu Reeves’ range as an actor, he was note-perfect in the movie. Sure, he acted like a depressed, don’t-give-a-flying-*** burnout who was racking up exorcisms to try to win his way into Heaven, but in the end he fought because somebody had to and at no point did he act like he thought he was actually going to win; he fought because it pissed him off to let the Bad Guys win without a fight. And in the end he showed he had a soul by passing on Satan’s offer of more time, asking instead to spend the favor on getting an innocent woman out of Hell.

Which brings us to Astra (funny coincidence on the name…). This Constantine’s mistake damned her to hell, and himself, but it was his mistake. He check himself into the loony bin hoping to forget that what he’d done and what is waiting for him. So when talking to an angel, does he ask if there’s any hope of saving Astra? Nope, it’s all about him. At that moment the character absolutely lost me; every move he makes is completely selfish (yes, I know that’s Constantine, but you have to give a main character some redemptive trait or the reader can’t connect with him at all).

Last gripe: it didn’t help that every time Constantine said something, I imagined the same line being spoken by this man:supernatural-s08-e23-4

And guess what? Misha Collins does it better.

Enough of the gripes: how would I fix it if I had a time machine? After all, a few writers read this blog and might be curious as to what I think would have helped.

First, Supernatural already did all this, and better, so look at that show’s early seasons. The Winchester boys always acted like, as mad-prepared as they were, they were never more than just one step ahead of “ending bloody” (Dean’s nice phrase).

Second, the main character, at least of the pilot and the first few episodes, should have been Liv. We should have seen it through her eyes as her world went crazy and this scruffy and mysterious guy shows up. Pile on the atmosphere, the suspense, the shrieking I’m Going To Die moments followed by the What The Hell Was That breakdown moments. The story of Constantine’s failure and damnation and what-the-Hell approach to life should have been dragged out of him over a bottle. With the hint at the end, in John’s Touched By an Angel moment, that he might be able to save Astra and it involves keeping Liv alive and sane.

Oh yeah; and hire Misha Collins. Somebody’s already taken away his razor and issued him the trench-coat.


4 thoughts on “The Trials of Constantine

  1. I will agree with you. I don’t know what is with NBC/Universal, especially when they flopped on Wonder Woman. Have they lost their touch after Heroes? I have even had my doubts on The Blacklist, since I expected a little more intrigue. Now that show has turned into a revenge/eye for an eye series, which can get old very quick!

  2. I was disappointed as well. Constantine is a dark and dirty character with a sand in your socks way about him. The tv show just kind of wandered around, “This happens, then this happens then this happens now lets get Subway”. The only nerdish squee I had the entire show was the brief look at Dr. Fates helmet. It is only the first episode so I still have hope. But they do need to step up their game now that we have seen how high the bar can go.

  3. I think my big gripe about the pilot of Constantine, was that it felt like a rehash of the movie plot. They jumbled some of the details around so that he was already in the asylum, but opening up her eyes to the metaphysical? All you needed was to find out she had a dead twin sister and it would have been the same. That all having been said, I have since watched the subsequent episodes, and I see a glimmer of hope with the new female lead slowly working her way into the mix. Don’t know yet if she’s a good or bad thing yet, but there is potential there. And at this point, that’s all I really feel about the show. So I’m banking on that potential and waiting to see where it takes us. I’m really hoping it goes the distance though, I’m still bummed from finding out one of the shows I loved to watch, Seed, got canceled when I wiki’d it last night to find out when it was going to return. Apparently, the answer was never.

    1. I haven’t had time to go back and give it another chance yet, but I am willing to extend the benefit of the doubt; many shows start off rocky before they find their feet.

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