As one media news outlet put it, comics are “conquering” both television and movies.
Very soon, we’ll begin to receive schedules for the “broadcast” networks, and we’ll find out when returning shows (Agent Carter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow, The Flash, Gotham and iZombie) will be scheduled this Fall. Netflix’s Daredevil will also return in 2016. We’ll see new comics-related shows appearing, such as Legends of Tomorrow from The CW, Lucifer on FOX, Krypton from Syfy, Supergirl from CBS, and Luke Cage, Iron Fist, AKA Jessica Jones and Defenders on Netflix. That’s a lot of TV programming taken over by comic-book properties!
The fly in the ointment for me is that NBC has now cancelled Constantine, a show I really enjoyed on Friday nights when it was paired with Grimm. There’s a rebooted DC comic with the guy coming, but I’ll still miss him on Friday nights.
One of the responsibilities of DC Comics’ Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns has been to present that companies’ characters to many different networks to get them to bring those print people to the small screen. Based on the list above, he’s done a pretty good job.
As previously mentioned, the one series that won’t be back is Constantine. Of course, the lead character is often described as a shady supernatural guy who couldn’t be trusted, but still has a devoted following of readers.
The Hellblazer feature film that focused on the same character didn’t do all that well when Keanu Reaves played him. This time, with Matt Ryan in the lead role, a lot of fans of the guy got very excited. I heard many of them say he was literally perfect for the role.
While The Flash hit the ground running (sorry, couldn’t resist that), Constantine didn’t do quite as well. Early ratings were low, but they did increase slowly over time. However, I knew there was trouble in paradise when NBC decided against extending its 13-episode run. People only kept saying that this wasn’t important since they could still renew the show and increase the number of episodes next season.
But I knew better.
Rumors abounded that Constantine would join Krypton on Syfy, NBC’s sister cable channel. I’d heard that story a hundred times before, none of them true. And this one turned out to be the same.
When showrunner Daniel Cerrone asked fans to show their support on Twitter the day he went in to see the NBC execs to pitch a second season, I was worried. I did as he asked, and when the meeting was over, NBC said to tell everyone it was a “good” meeting.
However, word came out from Deadline late on Friday that the ax had fallen on Constantine. I grieved and have recovered somewhat.
WHAT WE ENJOYED ABOUT THE SHOW
A lot of fans of the comic, myself included, really found the series true to the character and his comic adventures. He wasn’t quite the good guy we often find on TV, and that was a nice change of pace. There was also a lot of “Easter Eggs” from DC comics, including Dr. Fate’s helmet, which made watching this program (as well as the other DC-related shows) enjoyable for readers but don’t hurt people who may not know just what these things are about.
I also agree that Matt was an ideal actor to play the guy. He looked like a lot of the artists’ conceptions I’d seen over the years, and he was good at action and emotion as well. I always wondered if “Z” was Zatanna, his latest squeeze in the comics, but I guess I’ll never know.
The effects were great, I felt, and we saw several Constantine stories come to life on TV as they were turned into scripts. They were pretty well adapted, too, I thought.
I’d seen much worse shows get renewed, so I was still hopeful until Friday night. Also, critics really liked it, with the Rotten Tomatoes website indicating it had a 72 percent critic approval rating. But they just weren’t enough.
WHAT WENT WRONG
As devoted as we comics fans were, we just didn’t attract as many other viewers as the show needed to stay on the air. I just hate it when that happens, too!
I also think NBC is a network still desperate to find its footing. It’s presented everything from an updated Dracula to The Bionic Woman in order to attract an audience, and none of them have worked besides America’s Got Talent and The Voice. Grimm is always on the cusp, seems to me, of finding itself off the network, but we’ll see.
Then, too, in order to try and get more viewers, NBC once again tinkered with a show and moved it from 10 p.m. on Friday to 8 p.m. that same night. Instead of this move helping, it cut the ratings by about half. I think the later time draws more adults while 8 p.m. is still considered a “family” hour, so that hurt the show a lot, in my opinion.
Also, my brother likes to say that he’s “supernaturaled” out, what with all the programs focusing on extra-normal characters and situations currently on the air. Even though he’s a devoted DC comics fans, he just couldn’t get into watching it. I fear he was not alone.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
With so many “broadcast,” cable and other channels around, there are still possibilities of places for Constantine to land. After all, Longmire was cancelled on cable and has now been picked up by Netflix. A lot of fans have wondered out loud if HBO or another pay channel might take the series on. I wish I could say I was optimistic about that happening.
With Constantine coming back to DC Comics post-Convergence, that could help the series find a new home. To help make that happen, fans like me need to get out there and buy Constantine: The Hellblazer from Ming Doyle as much as we can, and encourage others to do that as well. After all, if the comic doesn’t sell well, how could a TV series that’s already been cancelled fare?
Still, if we don’t see any new Constantine again on the tube in the near future, I’ll miss it terribly but continue to enjoy all the other comic-related offerings we’ll see on TV and in movies. But I’ll keep hoping that John will be back sooner rather than later, and have Matt or another great actor in the lead role. Hey, it could happen!