Whilst getting ready to review the latest episode in the comic book NBC series Constantine, it was discovered that the network has taken the first steps to cancelling this out of the box program featuring its version of an English exorcist by cutting the first season’s episodes down to 13 hence the social media campaign of hashtag #SaveConstantine. This development, which was first brought to light in November, feels an awful lot like the Longmire debacle over on A&E, although not quite the same as the cowboy detective had a huge fanbase who were all the wrong age according to that network. Constantine, has been steadily growing in popularity, says zap2it’s TV by the Numbers in an article released on December 13.
These latest figures show the late night show is increasing in viewership and DVR stats. It does seem that the clue here is the term late night. NBC airs Constantine at 10 p.m. on Fridays, another hint about how the network feels about this show dealing with devils, demons, fallen angels and not fallen angels. If the show were a lot gorier and featured much more in the way of gratuitous violence, burying the series on a late night slot on a Friday would make sense, but the show is not that bad.
Perhaps the network is afraid that this cigarette smoking, although not nearly so much as the comic book character does, hard drinking Liverpudlian shaman may damage American youth in some way. Certainly there may be a danger of kids learning all sorts of English slang, like “gobsmacked” or “peckish” or “having a kip” amongst other non American English phrases that Matt Ryan, as John Constantine, uses in his everyday speech in the show. Thus far the only swear word used has been “bloody” and that is not considered swearing on this side of the pond. Not like Britain, where an episode of Tom and Jerry caused widespread anger when a character on this old cartoon used the word, in the afternoon. The television network was inundated with letters of complaint.
While NBC has not come right out and said they will not be having Constantine back for a second season, it has still gone out of its way to doom the show about an English exorcist and whether or not the Twitter campaign of #SaveConstantine, which started back in November when the news that NBC was stopping production after 13 episodes was released, will save it remains to be seen. As Yahoo! TV states in their December 13 article about the show’s treatment by the network, the series has been set up to fail for all intents and purposes.
The “why” of this is a mystery. The show has been gaining viewers and a fanbase at an impressive rate. Certainly the series started a bit slow, mostly amid charges that the tobacco inhaling anti hero would not be allowed to smoke on screen, but as John has increased the amount of cigarettes seen in his mouth or hand, so has the pace of the show. The latest episode, The Saint of Last Resorts is a cliff hanging two parter where Constantine is left shot and bleeding in a tunnel being approached by something that looks like a damned scary refugee from Silent Hill.
Matt Ryan and Angélica Celaya have a great chemistry on the show and episode 8 has her being featured in a pretty interesting subplot where some of the character’s backstory comes up and attacks her. Zed is a mystery figure in the show and the Celaya/Ryan pairing works very well. An English protagonist who feels as “cor blimey” as a bag of PG Tips, or Tetley tea and a beautiful partner who combines a delightful touch of exterior naievity and a tough as nails interior makes this team work impressively with and against one another.
A network that dooms its fledgling television show before it can reach its stride is not unusual. NBC stopping any further Constantine episodes after 13, feels a lot like the English exorcist is getting the Firefly treatment. The #SaveConstantine Twitter campaign may work, but it might not necessarily convince the originating network to bring the show back. Like Longmire, perhaps the #resurrectioncrusade for Constantine will result in Netflix saving the show. Who knows, perhaps the fact that the series got a 25 percent jump in viewing numbers will save it on NBC. While that sounds exciting, the truth is, the network will probably fill the gap left by Constantine, with a cheaply produced reality TV show.
By Michael Smith