Constantine is dead, and there are many people to blame
After months of fighting for its life behind the scenes, Constantine’s long suffering has come to an end. Showrunner Daniel Cerone confirmed that the show is officially dead, and it isn’t coming back.
Despite low viewership numbers, NBC’s Constantine managed to build and retain a loyal following. Even after the show was sorta, kinda, but not entirely cancelled, fans kept hope alive that it would either return to NBC or be resurrected on another network, possibly SyFy.
Cerone was in close contact with fans via Twitter, continually giving updates about the show. Most of those updates basically told people to keep watching the on demand episodes on platforms like Hulu, but he also fueled the desire among fans for the show to continue on elsewhere.
To its credit, NBC was willing to at least wait and see what happened after the show left the air, before making an official decision. Nice of it, considering the network seemed to doom Constantine from the start.
To begin with, the network premiered the show late in the fall season, weeks after other freshman shows had a chance to find their footing and even make adjustments based on the ratings. Constantine debuted at a time where the studio only had a handful of episodes to decide if the show should continue or not. Where other new series had up to eight or nine episodes to see what audiences think, Constantine had three or four.
Given it’s fairly sizable budget, Constantine needed to be an instant hit in order to survive. Throwing the show on Friday night didn’t do it any real favors on that front, but what really killed Constantine was the show’s inability to retain a significant portion of the audience from its fellow Friday night show, Grimm.
Although NBC did kind of screw Constantine, the show didn’t really do itself any favors. It touched on some of the things that made the comic successful, but then wrapped them in what was basically a procedural show with a supernatural slant.
Constantine also avoided some of what made Hellblazer so memorable. The show borrowed heavily from the early run of the comic, much of which was written by Jamie Delano, who wrote the first 40 issues. The comic’s next author through, Garth Ennis, had what is arguably the much more successful run.
Ennis added some much needed dark humor to the title, and vastly expanded both John’s personal relationships, as well as the supernatural world. In his first story arc, Ennis had Constantine screw over the Devil, beginning a long and brutal game between the two. Delano’s run was more set around individual horror stories, and his run began to feel very long in the later issues.
the show was very much more in the vein of Delano than Ennis. That may have worked if the show had more time to grow, but the Ennis run was much faster to get going.
Legally, the show could still be saved by another network, but the people behind it have more or less given up. The studio behind Constantine has released the cast and writers from their contracts, so even if a network were interested, it would need to renegotiate every deal. It would basically need to start over completely, which would make it far less appealing to a network.
So that’s it. Alas poor Constantine, we hardly knew ye.
“I promised I’d share news when I had it — sadly, that news is not good,” Cerone wrote. “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.”
Cerone went on to thank the fans for their support.
“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,” he said. “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.”