Archive for Constantine

Why no “Back 9” for Constantine might not be such a bad thing

Posted in Media, Occult Detectives with tags , , , , on November 26, 2014 by Occult Detective

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Alright, Hellblazers, I know you’re freaking out, but I’d like you to calm down for just a minute. Relax. Have a smoke. Let’s get mellow. All better? Good. Now I’m going to tell you why Constantine not getting a “Back 9” just might not be such a bad thing. In fact, in the long run, it could very well be exactly what Constantine needed.

constantine-first-season.31904For starters, while I love the show and Matt Ryan’s portrayal of John has been nothing short of brilliant, we’re five episodes in and so far the stories and performances from some of the regulars have been uneven. Ending season one after 13 episodes will give the writers time to regroup, narrow their focus, put their finger on what worked and what didn’t. This could be exactly the shot in the arm the series needs to deliver a more realized vision for where Constantine is headed.

Justice_League_Dark_Vol_1_0Also, and possibly more importantly, it has been reported that Guillermo del Toro has just delivered his John Constantine starring Justice League Dark script to Warner Brothers. If the WB executives love it, and I expect they will, having Constantine on the small screen is good business, ala Agents of Shield for ABC/Disney.

It’s a no-brainer to have Matt Ryan head up the Justice League Dark film.

This shortened first season could allow the powers-that-be to align the two visions and make for a truly magical manifestation of DC’s Occult Universe on both the big and small screen.

So, don’t panic. The stars are aligning. The spell has been cast. If anyone can pull this off, it’s everyone’s favorite nasty piece of work. John’s working his con as surely as I’m typing these words…

The magic’s already happening. We just have to believe.

Keep the faith. Spread the word. And make some magic. #Hellblazers Unite and #SaveConstantine.

#Hellblazers Unite! #SaveConstantine

Posted in Media, Occult Detectives with tags , on November 25, 2014 by Occult Detective

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Keep the faith. Spread the word.
And smoke ’em if ya got ’em…

My thoughts on “Danse Vaudou” & Saving Constantine

Posted in Media, Occult Detectives with tags , , , on November 24, 2014 by Occult Detective

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On the heels of another positive episode, one that saw a 38% increase in ratings and a .3 bump in market share, NBC announced that there would be no Back 9 for Constantine. Now, before we get our collective knickers in a twist, Constantine has not been cancelled outright. In fact, there’s a good chance a second season could still manifest.

So what can we do to help make that second season a reality?

First, spread the word and get your friends, family, and colleagues to watch… especially if they’ve got a bloody Nielsen box in their home.

Second, embrace social media and get Constantine trending on twitter, facebook, ello, or whatever/wherever strikes your fancy. If we’re talking about it, then the right ears just might hear it.

Third, contact NBC direct and (politely) demand more Constantine. Here’s a handy little link where you can be heard.

And finally, if you’ve the stomach for it, you could always perform a little spellcraft. Who knows, with the right incantation and proper offering, the gods might just smile on us yet.

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“…Voodoo’s just a magical excuse for a party.”
— John Constantine

As for “Danse Vaudou”, while it wasn’t quite up to par with last week’s brilliant episode, it is easily my second favorite of this young season. The story was compelling, the acting superb, and there was some great dialogue, particularly coming out of Papa Midnite’s mouth. The writers have certainly upped their game, making Constantine so much more than just another comic book adaptation.

It does have that appeal, of course. I am lifelong fan of the medium, but more than that, as you know, I am a student of the occult and seeing these two passions of mine melded into one is intoxicating and inspiring.

And the magic, well, sure it strays into the fictional, but there’s some meat left on the bone to chew on. The writers are doing their research. I understand creative license comes with the territory. As a writer myself, I’ve been guilty of the same, but I sure do appreciate it when they give more than lip service to the “dark arts”.

“You are a magpie of magic, a thief of tradition. You steal from
other people’s cultures and beliefs to suit your own purposes.”
— Papa Midnite

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This week, we got to meet another DC Universe occult personality in the form of Jim Corrigan, soon (I hope) to be known as The Spectre. I thought Emmett Scanlan did a bang up job as the future Spirit of Divine Vengeance. He had good chemistry with Angélica Celaya who, I must say, improved mightily in this episode.

Followers of this blog know I’ve had my problems with Celaya’s performance as Zed, but this was the first time she seemed a natural fit to the story. And her banter with Matt Ryan in the hotel lobby was cute, even if it did seem a little forced. I still liked the scene.

Of course, the highlight of the episode for geekdom was Zed’s vision of the Corrigan to come.

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If we want more Spectre (not to mention visits with Zatanna, Dr. Fate, Jason Blood, and the rest), we need to make sure Constantine continues to have a home on TV.

So, kids, watch it, talk about it, and let NBC hear about it.

#Hellblazers unite and #SaveConstantine

Constantine 104 “A Feast of Friends”

Posted in Media, Occult Detectives with tags , on November 17, 2014 by Occult Detective

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“I told you this would happen. People around me die.”
— John Constantine

“Non Est Asylum” showed promise, despite the awkward jettisoning of its original flavor femme fatale. “The Darkness Beneath” was less than inspiring, largely due to a weak plot and awkward introduction of femme fatale 2.0. “The Devil’s Vinyl” offered a glimmer of hope that this just might be able to become the series we Hellblazers had been dying for. And then along came “A Feast of Friends” and all our hopes were realized.

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Borrowing heavily from the debut issue of the John Constantine: Hellblazer comic (written by Jamie Delano and illustrated by John Ridgway), “A Feast of Friends” found John confronting Mnemoth, a hunger demon, and the most powerful he’d ever encountered. Mistakenly loosed by one of John’s old mates, Constantine had to use every trick up his sleeve to put this demon back inside a human vessel. And John, ever the consummate con man, got his mate, Gary Lester to “volunteer” for the job.

Imagine that.

So, what made this hour of Constantine leagues beyond all the previous episodes combined?

That’s a tough nut, that, but there are several factors easy enough to pin to it:

For starters, it was well written. Kudos to Cameron Welsh for a bloody good adaptation. Second, the director, John Showalter,  handled this with aplomb.

But most importantly, Matt Ryan once again knocked this one out of the park. He has really sold Constantine’s angst and captured that wide-boy swagger, so necessary to the character. And more than that, you get glimpses beneath that rough exterior of the wounded man inside. That’s damn fine acting.

He was aided in this episode by a terrific turn by Jonjo O’Neill as Gary Lester. You believed this guy every second he was on screen, as the broken down junkie who’d let everyone down at Newcastle, who had something to prove… and something to atone for. Ryan and O’Neill had brilliant chemistry and I hope that we haven’t seen the last of Lester.

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I also love love love the way Harold Perrineau is playing Manny. He is mysterious and otherworldly, quiet, understated, all the things you want from a celestial. I get that he’ll have a larger role to play as the season progresses, but right now,he and the writers are nailing this.

Unfortunately, I’m still not warming up to Angélica Celaya’s Zed. I hate to beat a dead horse, but she’s got to be more than a pretty face. There was a glimmer of a moment at the end when she jumped John’s shit for conning Gary into sacrificing himself, but I’m afraid it might be too little, too late. If it were me in that writer’s room, I’d already be devising a way for John to convince her to be a willing sacrifice for the greater good. He’s a knack for that sort of thing.

Here’s my final thought on this: I loved “Non Est Asylum” for all its potential. “A Feast of Friends” was that potential realized. Can they keep that up over the course of a season? I sure as hell hope so… and so do a lot of other Hellblazers I know.

Constantine 103 “The Devil’s Vinyl”

Posted in Media, Occult Detectives with tags on November 11, 2014 by Occult Detective

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Well, that’s bloody more like it, no? After three “pilots” we finally get to the meat of it, something more akin to what we can expect from a monster-of-the-week episode of Constantine. And you know what, I’m okay with it. Granted, it still has a ways to go, but all the promise I sensed in “Non Est Asylum”, but felt was lacking in “The Darkness Beneath”, finally showed up with a bit of that old devilish spark in “The Devil’s Vinyl”.

It’s still not “The Dresden Files”, but it’s hewing pretty close and can certainly surpass that show’s charm if the writers become more emboldened.

Charles Halford is being sorely underused so far, but I really dug Harold Perrineau’s brief scene this week and think keeping him in small doses adds to his mystery and presence. More Chas moving forward, however, would be a good thing. Unfortunately, I’m still finding Angélica Celaya’s Zed to be the weak link in the ensemble and hope she can turn things around.

All that being said, the much anticipated introduction of Papa Midnite is the centerpiece of “The Devil’s Vinyl”. It was a solid story, riffing on the Robert Johnson legend (with a nice track to back it up), with plenty of Constantine backstory to keep us Hellblazer fans happy. Michael James Shaw’s turn as the aforementioned Midnite took a solid story and helped dial it up a notch.

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I hear the grumblings from the PC crowd and I’m not discounting their ire. Last week we had the Gypsy Curse. This week Constantine took a swipe at Voodoo. All I can say, as a person who has walked through these worlds for the past three decades, just because it’s a stereotype doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Heavy-handed? Insensitive? Sure. John’s “white” magic up against those more “ethnically-flavored” is not going to win any brownie points. It may be an easy shorthand, but that doesn’t make it any less than lazy writing.

Of course when you’re saddled with telling a story in 40 minutes, well you’re going to end up with a bit of wank now and then.

Hopefully they’ll get better.

All in all, I like the direction Constantine’s headed in. So far it’s batting 2 out of 3. Hopefully “A Feast of Friends” will build on last week’s momentum.

My thoughts on Constantine — “The Darkness Beneath”

Posted in Media, Occult Detectives with tags on November 3, 2014 by Occult Detective

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Well, we’ve moved beyond the Constantine pilot and seen Liv off to greener pastures so as to make way for a new chica in town: Zed Martin. I guess you might call “The Darkness Beneath” Pilot 2.0. And it shows.

The Constantine premiere had its rough edges, to be sure, and despite my high hopes, they were still present for the second episode. To be honest, the first pilot felt to be the stronger of the two, with “Darkness” descending into a monster-of-the-week procedural.

It’s funny, while that’s what I miss about CW’s Supernatural, it feels like the wrong approach for Constantine. John should be wrestling with bigger issues, with angels and demons and the like. “Darkness”, for all Matt Ryan’s charm, felt flat and unimaginative.

Do I even need to discuss the plot? Not that I hate the idea of coal mines and Welsh kobalds, but c’mon, make me care about somebody in the bloody thing. Between the two shows that have aired, one had promise. The other… not so much.

In a nutshell, “Non Est Asylum” came off as an exciting and vibrant take on the occult detective genre. “The Darkness Beneath” felt like a visit from the Ghost of Cancellations Past. Tired. Trite. More of the bloody same old nonsense we’re being force fed on Sleepy Hollow and Grimm and Supernatural, etc, ad nauseam.

Angélica Celaya didn’t help matters much. While she’s easy on the eyes, her acting chops seemed a bit off, like she’s pinching herself because she can’t believe she scored such a cool gig. Time to wake up Angélica. You may have won the job, but if you want it to be a steady paycheck you’re going to have to up your game.

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If Constantine is to survive beyond its freshman season, it’s going to take more than Matt Ryan’s impressive turn to get the show’s back nine and a season two pick up.

If we see more episodes like “The Darkness Beneath” I don’t like its chances.

Look, I’m an easy mark for this stuff. If I’m doubting you, you’re doing something wrong. My sincerest hope is that the writers sense it early enough to right the train and it get things rolling before audiences tune out completely.

We need John Constantine on TV.

DC: All Access — Constantine

Posted in Media, Occult Detectives with tags on October 22, 2014 by Occult Detective

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Ch-ch-ch-changes in a Zed Way

Posted in Archive with tags , , on July 11, 2014 by Occult Detective

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Constantine - Season PilotLook! The Internet is abuzz with Constantine news. I’m sure you’ve seen it popping up all over — Lucy Griffiths’ Liv, the doe-eyed ‘chosen one’ who was to serve, I surmise, as the audience proxy into Constantine’s world, is out! And… the part is not being recast. In fact, the creators are dipping into the comic for a suitable femme foil for our swaggering con man…

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Allow me to introduce to you Zed, John’s ex-lover and a bit of a pagan priestess with considerable talents of her own. No actress has been cast as yet, but I’m eager to see who (or what) they conjure up.

Normally, changes like these would be troubling coming from a series debut, but I am, instead, optimistic.

This change aligns Constantine even more with the source material.

That has to be a good thing… Doesn’t it?

Though, to be honest, I was hoping for another Z to show up. Zatanna’s got to become a series regular at some point. She just has to. Fishnets are ratings gold.

Hellblazer is Dead. Long Live John Constantine.

Posted in Archive with tags , on November 12, 2012 by Occult Detective

I came to the world of John Constantine a bit later than most, I suppose. I knew of him, of course, but it wasn’t until Neil Gaiman’s Books of Magic that I got my first real dose of the character. I was immediately smitten. Constantine was a real  nasty piece of work. He’s been called a “working-class magician” and “con-man”. Yep, that sums it up rather nicely. He’s bitter, road-worn, and a chain smoking ne’er-do-well and I love him for it.

I’ve read the Constantine monthly, Hellblazer, pretty consistently since the late 90s. I’ve read all the specials and crossovers and gone back and tracked the character’s progress from his first appearance in Moore’s Swamp Thing.

I guess you’d call me a fan.

Hellblazer’s barking right up my proverbial tree, John being an occult detective through and through. Constantine and my own occult detective, Landon Connors (originally named Solomon Killingbeck), were born about the same time in the late 80s and I guess Moore and I were tapping into similar influences. Constantine is far more bitter than my guy, mind you. He’s far more jaded and had a tougher go of it. But they’re cut from a not dissimilar mold.

Thing is, the world needs John Constantine even more than it needs Landon Connors. Sure, Johnny’s most often looking out for himself, but he’s the one that does the dirty bits that need doing.

And here we are, with Hellblazer being cancelled with issue 300. 300? Damn, that’s a good run, isn’t it?

The internet is, of course, up in arms, with fans and creators alike screaming their displeasure. But you know what, Hellblazer may be coming to an end, but Constantine’s being restarted fresh. Will it be worth a toss? I don’t know. But what I do know is I’ll be the first in line to buy the new book and to give it a chance. If it’s utter shit then fine, I’ll trash it and move on. There are 300 issues of Hellblazer, a dozen or so special issues, and a metric shit-ton of cross-overs and such waiting to be reread.

They can’t kill John Constantine.

It’s like that old saying, “Heaven don’t want him and Hell’s afraid he’ll take over”.

The king is gone but he’s not forgotten

Posted in Archive with tags , on November 9, 2012 by Occult Detective

Hellblazer is dead.

Long Live, John Constantine.

Tune in Monday for my thoughts on the matter.

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