When it was first announced that NBC was developing a TV adaptation of the classic DC/Vertigo comic series Hellblazer, the initial response was cautious. While many liked the 2005 film Constantine, starring Keanu Reeves, Hellblazer fans were left largely nonplussed by the many changes to the character, his world, and his backstory. Would NBC make the same mistakes? The answer to that question appears to be no, with the leaked images of star Matt Ryan, plot details, and full-length trailer suggesting that NBC’s Constantine will be much more faithful to the Hellblazer series and the blond-haired Brit that serves as its central figure.
Today, NBC has announced an official premiere date for Constantine’s small screen debut, and it’s one that seems quite fitting. Deadpan demon hunter John Constantine will snark his way into America’s living rooms on Friday, October 24, one week before Halloween. While some detractors have been quick to jump on the “Friday night death slot” bandwagon, that label becomes less and less accurate every year, with both NBC and CBS currently having relatively stable Friday night line-ups.
Constantine will also be receiving a great lead-in courtesy of the fourth season of hit supernatural drama Grimm. Between Grimm, Constantine, and the also renewed midseason drama Hannibal, the Peacock seems to be trying to cultivate a strong horror and/or fantasy based audience on Fridays.
Adding to Constantine‘s horror cred is that acclaimed director Neil Marshall (the man behind cult hits like Dog Soldiers and The Descent) directed the pilot episode, and is signed on to return and helm more episodes later in the first season. This echoes how 30 Days of Night and Hard Candy director David Slade was brought in to direct the pilot of Hannibal, and has since returned as a semi-regular fixture behind the camera.
For those unaware, Constantine’s pilot introduces the relationship between the occult detective and newly created character Liv, which is set to form the backbone of the series. Liv is the daughter of one of John’s oldest friends, and when she finds herself the target of demonic forces, the hellbound hero is forced out of his current self-imposed retirement in order to protect her. This eventually sends the duo off on a cross-country mission to find and defeat a mysterious new force of evil – one that threatens to bring humanity to its knees.
On the surface, that synopsis draws immediate comparisons to The CW’s Supernatural, FOX’s Sleepy Hollow, and even NBC’s own Grimm. That said, the basic plot arc of a duo (or group) of heroes traveling around and fighting evil is one that has thrived on television for decades – and even the supernatural variant extends back to shows like The X-Files. Whether Constantine succeeds or fails is much more likely to hinge on Matt Ryan’s work as the lead, as well as the (hopefully) compelling interplay between John and Liv – rather than on the originality (or lack thereof) of the premise.
Constantine premieres Friday, October 24th, 2014 at 10/9c on NBC.