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R.I.P. ‘Constantine’

Constantine

Last television season was a banner season for fans of comic book television.  In addition to returning favorite Arrow, CW offered one of the best comic book adaptations audiences have ever seen with The Flash, as well as the more-fun-than-it-should-be iZombie; ABC brought back Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for another season that introduced the Inhumans, and reminded everyone how badass Hayley Atwell is with their new series, Marvel’s Agent Carter; and Fox brought along a beginning to Batman with Gotham.  For the most part, the comic book adaptations fared well and audiences will be treated to new stories when the season returns, with the added Arrow/The Flash spinoff, Legends of Tomorrow.  One comic book property that didn’t fare so well, however, was NBC’s Constantine which, according to the producer, is officially dead.

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Constantine was a series that never found its footing among audiences but carries a core group of followers that have been very vocal in trying to save the series from its inevitable axe. The main issue with Constantine was the simple fact that not many people gave the series a shot.  The Friday night time slot in which the series found itself trapped may have become the death note for the British, supernatural detective but considering Grimm, a similar genre series, was paired with Constantine and still managed to bring in the ratings indicates that there must have been something deeper than just a lousy time slot.  So, what happened?  The answer may be as easy as that age-old adage, “what’s in a name?”.

Gotham, which is arguably an inferior product to Constantine, has the benefit of telling the story of Batman’s beginnings, complete with villains that are very well known to the general public; The Flash brought along much of Arrow’s audience and, like Batman, is a well-known superhero; SHIELD and Agent Carter have the muscle of Marvel behind them; and iZombie, well, that one is a bit of a mystery but happens to be on the same station as Vampire Diaries and The Originals, two shows whose ratings seem to defy all logic. In contrast, Constantine is a character known only to those that actually read the comic books and/or those whose only exposure to the character may have been Keanu Reeves’ less-than-faithful portrayal of the character in the 2005 film of the same name.  In other words, there wasn’t much to get new fans excited.  Those that actually gave the series a shot were treated to a fun, brilliant portrayal of the character by Matt Ryan, a man who very obviously enjoyed the character he was playing.  The series was a solid supernatural adventure that, in its freshman year, was leaps and bounds better than, say, Supernatural’s last couple of seasons (props to season ten, though), or, really, any season of Grimm.  Too bad more people didn’t give it a shot.

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After it was announced that NBC would be passing on a second season, fans hoped that the series would find a new home on a different network, Syfy and CW being the favorites to keep Constantine going, but nothing panned out (sorry to break character here but how the hell does The Mindy Project find new life but not Constantine?? Sigh.).  For his part, executive producer Daniel Cerone has kept fans informed of his attempts to keep the series running ever since the pilot episode aired last year.  Yes, the series had been in danger of being cancelled literally since its pilot episode.  That is how much faith NBC had in the project.  As is his nature, Cerone took to social media to break the official bad news to Constantine’s many (but not enough) fans and bowed out gracefully.

I promised I’d share news when I had it — sadly, that news is not good. The cast and writers of Constantine are being released from their contracts. The studio tried to find a new home for the show, for which we’re forever grateful, but those efforts didn’t pan out. I’m sorry, I wasn’t provided any information on the attempts to sell the show elsewhere. All I can report is that the show is over.

Many ingredients went into this TV series. From the dedicated cast that breathed these characters to life, led by Matt Ryan as the comic-made-flesh embodiment of John Constantine, to the exceptionality talented crew that put unreal images on screen, to the original Hellblazer writers and artists who gifted us a universe.

As a general principle, writers don’t choose a writing career to achieve stardom. Whatever demons or insecurities drove them to find freedom of expression through written words generally keeps writers comfortably obscure behind their words. Nor do people choose writing as a means to financial freedom. I’d venture to guess that most who set out to write professionally never receive a paycheck for their hopeful scribbles or key strokes.

In fact, nobody I know ever chose a writing career — it chose them. You write because that’s what you do. Like breathing, it just happens and you have to do it and you just hope that someday somebody out there notices what you’re trying to say.

If that’s the dream of writers, than the writers of Constantine lived the dream, because we’re leaving behind wild and passionate fans who believe in and were moved by what we tried to do. To leave such a significant, dedicated and active fan base on the table — that’s the real sadness. You all deserve many years of the series we set out to make, and we’re disappointed that we couldn’t deliver that to you. The good news is that Constantine will live on for years in many more forms. But our time as caretakers has ended.

Thank you for letting us in.

Daniel Cerone

I, for one, know that my Friday nights will be a bit emptier without John.

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How do you feel about the news? What was your favorite episode of the series?

Category: TV

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