Ever since Constantine - NBC's TV adaptation of the classic Hellblazer comic books - failed to receive a full 22-episode season order a couple months back, the future of the freshman supernatural drama has looked to be pretty dire. While it's not unheard of for a show to not receive its "back-nine" order of episodes and still end up being renewed, it's a fairly rare occurrence. Make no mistake, not getting a full first season from your network is usually a strong sign that that network has no plans to order any more episodes of your show. After all, if the ratings justified a second season, they would surely justify a full first.
That said, NBC seemed to be initially hedging its bets, announcing that Constantine's remaining episodes would move to the seemingly more desirable Fridays @8pm timeslot, and that no decisions had been made regarding the series' ultimate future. That was until this weekend's TCA press tour, where network president Robert Greenblatt sounded like a man all but convinced that Constantine wouldn't be coming back.
While Greenblatt admits that the the audience levels earned by the "dabbler" in the dark arts grow significantly with delayed viewings, he also stressed that Constantine was failing to capitalize on airing after veteran NBC hit Grimm, which regularly pulls down some of the best numbers on Fridays. Based on those comments, John Constantine seemed like a dead man walking.
Well, the ratings for Friday's midseason return episode of Constantine are in, and the results aren't good. The Saint of Last Resorts: Part 2 managed to drop two tenths to a far from desirable 0.8 in the all-important (to advertisers) demographic of adults 18-49, with total audience levels dipping from 3.30 million viewers to just over 3 million. While that's not a huge drop, a 1.0 was hardly anything to be happy about to begin with.
Networks tend to start seriously thinking cancellation once shows begin to regularly dip below that 1.0 barrier, except in the rare case of a program like Hannibal, which NBC doesn't produce and only pays a small licensing fee to air. Hannibal can earn 0.7s every week and still be profitable for NBC. Unfortunately, Constantine isn't so lucky. For the record, this marks Constantine's fifth instance of coming in below the 1.0 line.
That all said, Constantine's days on NBC are very likely numbered. Despite Greenblatt's noncommittal comments regarding a possible renewal, it's a well-known fact that network executives never publicly admit when a show is as good as dead. Which makes sense, as when a show is announced as canceled, the ratings for the remaining episodes naturally dive even further.
Of course, just because NBC gives Constantine the axe, doesn't mean that its producers couldn't shop it around to other networks. For example, NBC's sister network Syfy would seem to be a very good fit for the show. Then again, moving from broadcast to cable means slashing your budget, and Constantine is an effects-heavy spectacle during many episodes.
Here's hoping Constantine ends up landing somewhere, and at least gets a short second season to wrap things up for fans. Matt Ryan is just too spot-on in the role for Constantine to be exorcised from TV this quickly.
Constantine's remaining season 1 episodes air Fridays @8pm on NBC.