Constantine 1.2 – The Darkness Beneath

contSomething about Constantine is making me laugh.  A lot.

No, it’s not the actual show – I have enjoyed both episodes so far – it’s the lengths the makers are going to in order to prove Constantine smokes without actually showing the deed itself taking place.

In episode two, within thirty seconds of the show opening, we see our John breathing out a long stream of smoke. Later, we see an unlit cigarette in his mouth and, as he goes to light it, he is interrupted by Zed and fails to do so.  We even see smoke rising from an ashtray, but we never see him with a lit cigarette in his hand or mouth.  We never see him outright enjoying a fag*.

I’m actually a staunch anti-smoker, but I’m not cheering about this or feeling smug.  Constantine smokes.  Fact. I don’t need to be nanny-ed in this way. He smokes, it’s part of his character.  Really, I can live with it.  I can deal.  And when you’re going to such lengths to show it by not showing it, who is it actually fooling?

But I digress.

Episode 1.2  is a peculiar episode. Partly because it is completely without frills.  Constantine arrives, finds out what is going on, investigates, sorts it. Boom! It’s very lean and not a moment is wasted.  It’s a surprisingly deft piece of writing as we learn an awful lot about all of the characters in a very short space of time and while the main thrust of the plot is happening.  At no time does it feel forced, shoehorned or info-dumped. It’s rare, that a TV show is not padded with waffle.

Of course, a lot of the leanness of story is possibly owing to the fact that a new ‘companion’ (Doctor Who speak is hard to shake) had to be introduced and made real in a very short space of time.  Well.  At the very least, more real and more likeable than Liv was.   And she is.

She has the right amount of madness and mystery to be interesting.  The ‘reluctant gift’ angle really didn’t work for Liv, nor did the whining. Her only real use was to provide a map of psychic/magickal hot spots and, rather foolishly, to leave the keys of (Baron) Winters home in Constantine’s hands.

The supernatural creatures are nicely realised, the effects solid and the performances . . . well they’re okay.  I still don’t *wholly* believe Matt Ryan and I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because the accent seems forced or maybe because the American Writer hasn’t *quite* got English idioms right, but whenever he speaks, it feels like he’s doing an impression of Constantine rather than being Constantine.  I wish I could explain it more. Or better.

I speculated last time about whether the ‘American Gothic’ storyline was viable given the location and artefacts that appeared in the first episode.  That thought was backed up a little more this week when Constantine explains about how incidence of magic events are on the increase and more intense.  Very American Gothic…

I can’t claim this was the best bit of TV ever, but it’s a solid episode and bodes well for the rest of the season.  He said. Possibly prematurely.

*for the benefit of my American readers, I should point out that ‘fag’ in this instance is UK slang for ‘cigarette’.  Really.




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