NBC will not continue Constantine after its current run of 13 episodes.
The decision will come as a blow to fans of Hellblazer, given executive producer Daniel Cerone and David Goyer’s clear intent to be as faithful as possible to the original graphic novels – a marked improvement upon the recent film starring Keanu Reeves. The casting of Matt Ryan for the small screen alone should classify the TV show as a success.
The prospect of it being cancelled, then, is a sad one. But is that what’s happened? Not quite.
NBC has decided to halt production on the show, of which 13 episodes were initially ordered. However, according to Deadline’s sources, unlike also-axed shows Bad Judge and A to Z, Constantine is not officially out of contention for a renewal. It’s rather fitting for a show about a hero who once sold his soul three times over to escape dying from lung cancer: even when he seems doomed, John Constantine will always find a way to cheat death.
In this case, it’s a numbers trick. The decision on Constantine’s immediate future had to be made using limited data, thanks to the show’s October premiere in NBC’s genre slot – several episodes behind the other new programmes of the season. While it premiered to 4.3 million viewers, that dipped to 3.5 million later, not the most inspiring numbers for ordering a final block of nine episodes.
But Constantine is apparently recognised as having potential. It is one of a raft of DC shows on the telly this autumn – including Gotham, The Flash and the return of Arrow for a third season – which gives it a strong potential fan base to help build up an audience. Even Amazon has cottoned onto that by picking up the exclusive UK rights to the series (episodes are being added every Saturday, within 24 hours of their Friday night US broadcast).
Its quality, meanwhile, has been steadily improving, as the writers find their tone and style (helped by decent production values and Matt Ryan in the lead). Episode 4 was a turning point, with a story based directly on the comic book’s very first issue. In the wake of that, ratings jumped 38 per cent in America for Episode 5 – ironically, just as NBC told the cast and crew they would stop production after another eight episodes. When the full 13 run has been completed, though, and a more complete picture has been formed, who knows what the verdict will be?
There’s always an ace hiding somewhere in Constantine’s sleeves. Judging by the run of episodes so far, here’s hoping it works on NBC executives as well as demons.
Read our Constantine reviews here.