Not sporting his trademark continuous cigarettes is the least of Constantine‘s worries as an NBC drama. X Files, Fringe, Lost and Hannibal prove that, yes, it is possible to pull off smart, risk-taking genre series despite the content restrictions of being an old school major network. But those shows pushed the limits of mainstream prime-time by presenting powerful artistry, strength of narrative and cinematic visual styles backed by real skill. Measured by such standards, watching the pilot reveals that Constantine is already in over its head.
From the jump, it’s obvious the series has a struggle ahead because it’s so determined to both dumb down the material and dilute the potential squick factor. This family-friendly approach will not only alienate the existing Hellblazer fanbase but also anybody under the age of 500 who might like to have the crap scared out of them by a TV show. Constantine should not be The Ghost Whisperer.
Setting aside that obvious struggle, before NBC trots the show out for realsies in the fall, one simple thing they could tweak is the presentation of their main character. Welsh actor Matt Ryan has to do something with that WTF accent. Everything out of his smoke-free pie-hole smacks of Liza Doolittle times duh equals cheerio, bollocks, blimey and tally-ho! Combined with a botched dye-job that looks like an embarrassed static duster, it’s an empathetic nightmare to experience the awkward. Jolly bad show, old chap.