When Doctor Who‘s 8th Series ended, I found myself sighing in disappointment. Likewise, Supernatural (with the exception of the 200th episode) has lost some of its luster 10 Seasons in. As my favorite Brit and supernatural shows started to fade into the background, NBC reminded me of a familiar name: John Constantine.
For those not currently embroiled in the new series Constantine, you need to stop what you’re doing and go to the NBC site to watch the previous episodes (Go do it. Dinner can make itself later and it’s totally cool if your wear the same pants to work three days in a row, I promise…okay maybe not). According to his oft produced business card, Constantine is an Exorcist, Demonologist and Master of the Dark Arts. Based off of the DC Pre-52 Hellblazer series, this show is NOTHING like the Keanu Reaves/Rachel Weiss movie from several years back. With a Liverpool accent, a gruff attitude and the ability to sneak his cigarette smoking past TV-censors, Matt Ryan’s portrayal of John Constantine is the performance we’ve been waiting for.
In this week’s episode, ‘Dance Vaudou’ the viewer is introduced to New Orleans’ Detective Jim Corrigan (Emmet J. Scanlan). For readers of Hellblazer, this name is very familiar for a reason. For those who are just watching the show and know nothing of the comic, I won’t spoil it for you. Corrigan drinks a bit too much down on Bourbon Street and as he wanders down an alley to relieve himself, he witnesses a woman in a surgical mask slash the throat of another woman with a pair of scissors. He attempts to put down the scissor-wielding killer but his bullets merely disappear. Back at the “bigger on the inside” safe house John Constantine calls home, his new found psychic, Zed (Angelica Celaya) works to hone her gifts so that they are more useful and less “migrane” causing. Constantine produces a zoetrope from the Court of Queen Victoria and Zed finds herself entranced in a vision of a young man being taught to shoot by his mother. Her psychic connection in turn opens a link to what is basically the murder Maurauder’s Map indicating that the crew needs to go to New Orleans, LA to help fight the rising darkness that seems to be everywhere. They load up in Chas’ (Charles Halford) newly repaired yellow cab and drive from Atlanta to the Crescent City. A young hitchhiker named Phillip also appears to be on a murderous rampage, appearing in cars before causing the drivers to hit the same tree on the same road. Constantine knows something is up, but before he is able to investigate further he is arrested by Corrigan for what the detective believes is a con. The two come to an understanding and soon Constantine and Zed are interviewing two people connected to a recently deceased supermodel who was attacked with sewing sheers and a young man who died in a car accident. Both reveal the same thing; Papa Midnite (Michael James Shaw) has accidentally been raising the dead. Though Constantine and Midnite are enemies, the two must put aside their serious differences to put the now murderous spirits to rest.
Voodoo is not traditionally treated with much respect in the realm of movies and television. It is usually seen as a series of love spells and zombie-raisings rather than a serious system of belief. Constantine manages to not only treat Voodoo with respect, but also incorporate the Judeo-Christian themes that have been flowing since the show started. We’ve seen angels, the Seal of Solomon, the rites of Catholic exorcism, and now we’ve seen them blended into a voodoo ritual to release the dead. In one particular scene, Papa Midnite and John Constantine scream at each other, each blaming the other for having their forces not come their aid. Midnite’s Loa fail to appear and Constantine’s angel pal is no where to be found. The common ground of guilt must be added to get it all to work. No matter what religion you are or aren’t, guilt is something most human beings can relate to.
Constantine continues to build momentum as the season continues. For those viewers who need a replacement for a Brit, hero in a trenchcoat or a little bit more of the supernatural in their life, Constantine steps in as a good option.
For those viewers who like to Tweet while watching, NBC’s Constantine can be followed @NBCConstantine and #Constantine can be used to talk about the show…and yes, they do read them.