A DC-TV Primer: the CW Network’s superhero lineup
? … Maybe someday … Constantine
From Wikipedia (as I said before, if they are going to do the work FOR me …):
CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SEASON the ONLY (so far)
John Constantine, a demon hunter and dabbling master of the occult, must struggle with his past sins while protecting the innocent from the converging supernatural threats that constantly break through to our world due to the “Rising Darkness”. Balancing his actions upon the line of good and evil, Constantine uses his skills and a supernatural scry map to journey across the nation to send these terrors back to their own world, all for the hope of redeeming his soul from eternal torment.
Rumors of Constantine becoming the fifth DC-CW show were just that – and became wishful thinking among fans of the show.
Only the most zombie-like of Marvel zombies will refuse to admit that DC’s horror comics were better than Marvel’s horror comics; even well into the 1990s when Constantine the comic book was in full vigor. (“What about DC’s Wasteland?” “Shut up.”)
Even in their super-hero line, horror would rear its misshapen head with characters like the Phantom Stranger, the Spectre and Dr. Fate – two of those three had fun Easter egg references in Constantine’s run. The show even had the Justice League’s baddie Felix Faust in an episode!
Constantine would have been a repository of all things supernatural in CW’s superhero universe.
Too bad the show was doomed from the start.
It had the usual Berlanti Production touches: the main character had a team of followers behind him helping with that episode’s problems. Oh sure after the pilot episode they dumped his first female companion for another without a word, but that happens with pilots. I guess.
Chas was to John Constantine what Diggle is to Arrow – muscle when needed. Like Diggle, he is knowledgeable about the goings-on of the show. He has helped Constantine in the time before the show and does not need an explanation about what kind of baddie he is fighting. He has his own arcane powers that are revealed slowly during the show. Charles Halford plays him wonderfully.
The audience conduit is played by Angelica Celaya as Zed. John and Chas explain that week’s Big Bad to us through her. Her arcane powers of divination help with necessary shortcuts in the show (otherwise how would Constantine know about evil doings in New Orleans?). She is also a great actress playing a great character.
I liked the underused Harold Perrineau as Manny – an angel ally of Constantine but still a pain in the main character’s backside. Although he seemed to be on Constantine’s side, he also seemed to have a different agenda. Constantine didn’t trust him. I didn’t either… He would have played a larger role in the series had it continued (as the final aired episode clearly showed).
There was a Big Bad who was (presumably) going to duke it out with our hero in the season finale. Unlike the other Berlanti shows, we never knew who the Big Bad was until late into the season. In fact, the main villain was revealed in the last broadcast show – ending in a bit of a cliff-hanger. It is likely we will never see it resolved.
And mcguffins abounded in the show – there was always a talisman or other thingumabob that Constantine and his crew discovered that would defeat the bad guy (be it human or demon) after the initial failed confrontation. But here it worked. Using a magical devise to defeat the Big Bad makes sense in this supernatural setting…
Perhaps the horror element made us forget this by-now over-used CW super-hero plot device.
The original character was based on the musician Sting, but actor Matt Ryan made the character his own. He played Constantine with an exhausted charm. You want to have a drink with him – then run away as fast as you can!
He seemed tired and confused (that is, drunk) most of the time. With his trench coat, he was something of a horror-themed Columbo with a northern British accent. But like Columbo, he always knew what he was facing and (sometimes) knew what he was doing. True, at times it didn’t work …
And intended or not, the thought of Kolchak always bubbled below the surface…
One highlight episode was “The Devil’s Vinyl” featuring a satanic LP. The show introduces sometimes ally/sometimes villain Papa Midnite.
Perhaps the character will pop up again in the other DC-CW shows as he did in his wonderful appearance in a fourth-season Arrow episode, when Flash, Supergirl or Arrow (again) needs some supernatural help.
I would hate to see them waste an excellent character played by an excellent actor.
All of the episodes are available on CW-Seed. Find them and watch them.
And Happy Halloween!
Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry
Characters mentioned and their images are copyright their respective holders. Thanks to DC Comics, the CW Network and Berlanti Productions and the actors portrayed for the use of their images.
I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated (gratmens during the credits aside).
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