‘Constantine’ is my favorite network show of the fall 2014 TV season.
I’m not a big network TV fan. I’ve loved and lost: ‘Arrested Development.’ I’ve grown tired of aging shows: ‘The Simpsons.’ Many others just lived their TV shelf life: ’24,’ ’30 Rock,’ ‘Parks & Rec,’ and ‘Community.’
The most miraculous feat of all (aside from the apparent “miracles” that can come up on the show)? The fact that I like any network TV show more than one about Batman (sorry, ‘Gotham.’)!
Here’s 5 things you are missing out on by skipping ‘Constantine.’
1. The Opening Credit Sequence Makes Your Skin Crawl
Is the opening credit sequence of a show really that important?
If you ask the late, not-so-great, ‘Entourage,’ then yes, the opening credit roll is a big deal. Often mocked among friends, the “Ya! Oh, yeah!” stroll down the Sunset strip, walking past the great L.A. bar “With Jeremy Piven” is horribly long.
‘Constantine’ has a perfect length, incredibly unique opening credit sequence.
There’s not even actor or creator credits given, just the image of souls burning in hell.
Watch it now! Then we move on!
2. Matt Ryan is incredibly likable as John Constantine.
Here’s your first clue that there’s a big difference between NBC’s ‘Constantine’ and the 2005 movie starring Keanu Reeves; Matt Ryan’s John Constantine is charming and funny in a way Keanu will never understand.
Ryan brings humor and sarcasm in large doses, playing the self proclaimed “Master of the Dark Arts.” (Constantine gets shit almost every episode for having that last title on his business card.)
And yet, John is also a man haunted.
Haunted by what happened to Astra, the daughter of a friend whom Constantine accidentally damned to hell during a failed exorcism. That’s some dark shit to deal with.
Similar to the sins of his past, Constantine makes some very ambiguous moral choices that could lump him in shared company with ‘Breaking Bad’s Walter White. In one episode he literally has to trap a demon in the body of a friend; inviting the demon in and then trapping him in the body by carving demon locking symbols into his friend’s face with a special blessed blade.
Constantine has his demons, both literally and figuratively. Yet, the show never gets silly when he recites incantations and draws demonic symbols. The show carries just the right tone for it all to work.
And Constantine has quite a bit of evil to combat as there is a “rising darkness” that is pushing more monsters to the surface and resulting in stronger than average demons.
With all the good, the bad, and his torment/mission, as a man, I still want to be John Constantine. Rock that white shirt and that loose-ass tie… TV’s John Constantine is one cool anti-hero.
3. It’s a horror show at heart.
I have a knack for missing when something is in the horror genre, unless it’s a shitty torture-porn film like ‘Saw’ or ‘The Hills Have Eyes.’ I didn’t realize the new ‘Fright Night’ (2011) was horror until my friends pointed it out; I thought it was a dark comedy.
I had the same inclination with ‘Constantine,’ enjoying the darkness and comedy of the show, completely missing that it is, indeed, a horror show. Not only that, it’s a damn good one, with gruesome bloody scenes and scary demons that rival cable’s ‘The Walking Dead.’
We’re talking possessed children, fallen Angels, and a vinyl holding the voice of “the fallen” (the devil, of course).
2. It has its own, unique format unlike anything on network TV.
I like to call ‘Constantine’ my favorite cable show on Network TV since ‘Arrested Development.’
Let’s face it, most the good shows on television live on cable networks willing to take risks like AMC, FX, and HBO. Most of what we see on Network TV (by which I mean CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, and The CW) is very formulaic, with nearly all dramas following the criminal or medical procedural format. Even a show like ‘Gotham’ (which I also adore) boils down to a police procedural that happens to have quirky DC characters. ‘The Blacklist’ is brilliant, but it also doesn’t escape the classic format of a Network TV Drama.
‘Constantine’ marches by the beat of its own drum. It does have a formula; establish demon/evil entity, Constantine tracks it with the aide of Zed (Angelica Celaya) and/or Chas Chandler (Charles Halford), if it’s a demon he may chase it from body to body, finally vanquishing it in the final act, depending what “it” is.
That is where the show flaunts its format: the “Rising Darkness.” The evil in the show takes many forms, from the aforementioned demons, to possessed inanimate objects, and even Angels that work for “the fallen.”
No two episodes are alike and non mirror what you would see on a Network Procedural.
1. It has great side characters and is rich with DC universe lore.
John Constantine’s tortured soul is only the tip of NBC’s iceberg.
My favorite character – aside from Constantine who I obviously have a man-crush on – is Manny the Angel (Harold Perrineau). Manny appears to Constantine, not to help, as he can never give information or physically help in any way that will alter the lives of mortals like John.
While Manny appears to visit Constantine for moral support, really he spends most of his time gloating and mocking Constantine. The back and forth between these characters is my favorite part of the show. Whenever Manny shows up, I crack a smile.
Zed and Chas are also great characters, both with their separate supernatural gifts and their relationships with the “master of the dark arts.”
These characters are from the comics (not Manny, he was added to turn the comic’s inner-monologues into dialog between two characters) as are many of the demons and items we see throughout the show. I wish I read the New 52’s ‘Constantine’ (formally ‘Hellblazer’) as there are A LOT of DC ‘Easter Eggs’ to uncover.
All-in-all, it boils down to my earlier statement. To quote myself:
‘Constantine’ is my favorite cable show on Network TV since ‘Arrested Development.’
Boom. I just self-quoted.
There you have it, 5 reasons to check out ‘Constantine’ on Hulu and NBC. If you’re game for unique TV containing fascinating characters and scary demons – with a DC Comics flair – then join me and John on our mission against the “Rising Darkness.”