A little over a year ago, I wrote an article; Hellblazer T.V. Show… One Fan’s Plea to NBC execs. And for the past 12 months I waited with bated breath. I avoided any pics or media info, a feat next to impossible at NYCC’14, didn’t check anything on IMDB, purposely missed the advanced screening and limited my conversations with those who did. Now as I’m drinking a rum and coke on a Friday night at 10pm, waiting for Constantine to start, I’m going through my old article to see if the show is going to meet my criteria as a successful representation on my all time favorite Veritgo character.
Here’s the List:
John Constantine is English and Blonde.
Matt Ryan is perfect. He’s got the accent and the banter down. The dialogue was snappy and quick, and Ryan’s ability to quickly jump to intense anger and back down to snarky charming rogue is absolute Constantine.
Beyond the superficial, they kept true to his origin. From his mother dying during his childbirth, the abusive drunken father to the teenage dabbling in magic right up to his fall from grace with Astra’s death and his stay in a mental institution afterwards.
They got this right. Demon bonding mystic seals, pendants that allow you to see the soul-verse, cockroaches leading John to a demonic message, mysterious sigils carved in doors, angels acting like douchebags, a corpse reanimating in a bodybags and excorisms left and right. NBC did the best version of capturing the Vertigo atmosphere of the title this side of non-network t.v. or the silver screen. I was impressed.
John Constantine is a man of the times.
I’ll say check, though it’s too early to tell. John shows a lot of his anti-authoritarianism leanings throughout the episode, as well as preferring the Sex Pistols over the Ramones, so I’m pretty sure the writers, and Matt Ryan have his personality and politics down pat and will reflect it so in future episodes.
Hellblazer takes place in London.
Well the important parts did. New Castle and Ravenscar being mentioned are big pluses, but with that blood-drippy map of America has anything to say, it looks like we won’t see John back across the pond for a bit. Which really doesn’t bother me as John is a traveler, and this harkens back to Azzarello’s run taking place in the good old U.S. of A.
His supporting cast is just as important as he is.
Big Check. So far we got Chas (little more “involved” on the show than the comic) and his cab, The ill-fated little girl Astra, Nergal is mentioned and partly seen (well done!), Ritchie Simpson, and a possible Baron Winters! Plus all the Easter eggs: Ivy University, Backwards Writing on a wall!, Fate’s Helmet, Pandora ‘s Box, and… was that Ibis’ staff?!
Avoid the Monster of the Week Syndrome.
Well this is a near impossibility based just on the premise of the show: A demonologist and exorcist traveling across the country fighting evil while trying to save his soul. But they already gave us plenty of back story and just like every show from X-Files to Supernatural, the first season or two will be formulaic, but the potential for great overarching storylines is there.
And finally.. John Constantine is not nice.
Constantine is an unshaven, surly wiseass. He drinks, blackmails his friends,bribes a guard, and even though I knew we had little chance of seeing him smoke, his incessant playing with a lighter can be seen as a quitters twitch, leaving future smoking-dependent storylines (you know which one I’m talking about!) open for mining in future episodes. Plus, he says Bollocks. Love hearing Bollocks said out loud. Bollocks.
All in all, this is a great adaptation of both the originally creepy and moody Vertigo Hellblazer series and the more flash and bang Constantine series of the New 52. At least this old fan was happy!
Now give us some Swamp Thing!
You can catch Constantine on NBC Fridays at 10pm, as usual check your local listings for your time and station!