Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Constantine - Enter The Spectre

There is another reason for Zed being a little green.  The late word is that production has been halted for Constantine.  That means no back nine to fill out the season for this freshman entry.  Is that a death sentence?  Not neccessarily.

Oh, Cedilla!  Look into the future sister, what is the fate of Constantine?

If you follow this link over to IGN.com you will get some hopeful news that all is not lost for Constantine.  I like their reasoning and it helps that the showrunners are drumming up support for their series.

Still, I feel a little shot full of holes.

Like this guy.

Damn, we finally get Jim Corrigan and the show is almost as dead as he appears to be.  I want the Spectre!

"Constantine" actually went a little further than I thought with the introduction of this character.  That green glow that surrounded Corrigan was truly awesome as Zed gazed at the future superhero. 

Really, I thought they were going to "Danse" around his future self but instead we got the eerie form of the Spectre.

Can you imagine what they were going to do with this character?  Just look at that face!


No, I'm not okay Jim!

Let's hope the introduction of Corrigan will be enough to pique the interest of all the fan boys and girls out there.  Can we throw in a little more Dr. Fate too please.  Let's get that DC fandom rolling!

I liked how they tied the characters of Zed and Corrigan together too.  He remembers her face and promises to keep her secret from her "family."

For her part, Zed has a secret to keep from Jim.  She already had vision into his life and played it cute when she first met Corrigan.

Now she knows a lot more.  His boyhood past with his mother teaching him how to shoot will eventually figure into him having to protect himself.  His mother must have known a thing or two about Jim's fate.

Poor Zed had to turn her face away from Jim as the tears began to roll.

She's not the only one that feels like crying.

(Also take note of how similar the eyes of Corrigan and Zed are as she looked into the mirror and he shot at ghosts in the alley way.  That was very well done.)

Maybe "Constantine" can pull a Chas and bounce back.  You know, this is all just a little bump on the head.

Sister, I beseech you, tell me the fate of Constantine!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Constantine - A Feast of Friends

I have to say this one got to me a little.

Usually when I have an emotional reaction to an episode it's because some alien got zapped and I give it a big fist pump.  Or perhaps our hero or heroine outsmarts the big baddie and I revel in their genius and silently nod to myself feeling a kinship in their cleverness.

"A Feast of Friends" left me a little sad.  Maybe it's because I've felt the pain of broken friendships or even felt the pain of a close friend going through a bad time.

If you look at the above screen cap we see the aftermath of a friendship both torn and repaired.  The sacrifice by Gary Lester was of such import that Manny felt the need to be there.

The ironic thing is the friendship that found itself torn and repaired was torn and repaired in it's final act also.

John had told Zed that people die around him.  "He came to me!" He screamed at Zed when she chastised him.   I think at some level Gary knew he was going to die in the company of Constantine.  Despite his surprise at John's trickery into getting Gary to be the vessel in which the Mnemoth demon was going to die, I think he knew all along in seeking out John it would lead to his redemption and his death.

As Gary said, "Is there any better way to go out?"

This has to be one of the best entries in this short season of "Constantine." 

When we first spied Gary, he looked like death warmed over.  (And when Gary was questioned at the airport I had a flashback to the "Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch" as the vessel sat atop the table.) Naturally the guard failed to heed Gary's warnings and the demon was loosed upon the Western world.

This episode also served as a metaphor.  America has managed to get itself swept up in the hysteria of the Ebola virus.  When this episode was "in the can" I doubt the writers knew how close to the mark they were.  Doubtless they knew of the paranoia surrounding the deadly virus originating in Africa and possibly coming to America's shores.

But could they have possibly known how close to the truth they were?

Very close.

Americans can be a fearful lot.  Just take a look at the results of the last mid-term elections.  Ebola!  Terrorism!  Open borders!

"Constantine" knows its audience.

"Constantine" even chided us on our relentless consumerism and our propensity for eating too much.  (This was paired with a clever mythology dealing with famine in Africa.)

Our national addiction with drugs was also called out.

The most innocent of us, this time in the form of Zed, were not immune.  Zed had professed to Constantine how clean she was.  She didn't need the psychotropics that hard drugs delivered.  Yet she, like us as a greater society, cannot escape the pain of addiction and withdrawal on a national scale.  Zed spoke for all of us when we claimed to be untouched by it all.

We're not, and sadly, neither was she.

Creep Factor

Speaking of drugs, the creep factor was set on high in this episode.  It all started when John went to visit his friend Nommo for help.  We got one of the creepiest scenes we've borne witness to on TV for a long time.

Eyeball plucking is one thing but plucking and sharing is another.  So creepy good and wonderfully clever.

How about the possessed worker that came at John upside down?  Wow, so scary.  Did you know it drew a stunning resemblance to a deleted scene from the Excorist movie?

Here it is.

God, I'm glad that wasn't included in the original film.  I can only take so much.

That's not to say this entry wasn't without a little comedy.  In fact there were several great moments of humor.

Poor Dave, I always feel for characters that share my name.

Not that Dave's fate was funny but this was.  So much for the days without an accident!  Nice touch John.

Let's not forget the dancing guard at the museum!  He's going to stay that way as long as the music played.  (Or as long as the alarm sounded.)

Hey!  Is "Constantine" making fun of us popcorn eating movie goers?

I think not so much, but did you notice the chair backs all had that "Star of Solomon" that we first saw when John was carving it into the glass vessel he was going to use to trap the Mnemoth demon?

I wonder if they were digitally placed there as an Easter egg or they actually found a theater with those chairs and thought, "Hmm, I think we've got something here."

I could have used a hug as this episode came to a close.  We were called out on our collective paranoia, our rampant consumerism, our propensity for over indulging and perhaps our collective intolerance too.

"Constantine" plays to our fears and it is a better series for it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Constantine - The Devil's Vinyl

Now that is what you call a police procederal.

Constantine is three episodes deep into it's first season and it still hasn't quite found it's footing.  Entertainment Weekly had given a B- rating to the show after previewing these first three and I can see why.

And this after I declared the series saved once they brought Zed on!

Constantine may not have found it's footing but you have to hand it to them for their sense of the macabre.  It's little things like reanimating a corpse for precious information that makes the show fun. The above picture shows John Constantine using the "Hand of Glory" to get information out of the dearly departed Bernie.  The clues may have been cryptic but at least they were pointed in the right direction.  (Man, there were some bad puns in there!)

So where did "Constantine" go wrong?  Well, wrong might be a strong word.  Maybe "safe" is more apt.  "Constantine" followed the formula of the family in danger, the innocence of youth, the entitled Rocker and the damsel in distress.  It was a nice little twist to see Joelle Carter's (Justified) Jasmine Fell be the one who bartered her soul to preserve her marriage.  She unwittingly endangered her daughter though and she didn't put two and two together when her husband assured her that cancer fighting science had advanced over the last twenty years.

Constantine managed to get himself in and out of trouble rather easily too.  The funny thing was, when I saw John strapped to the grating I thought to myself, "Why doesn't Manny just appear and free him?"

Staples button.  That was easy!

I've never read the Hellblazer comic but I figured having an angel around would come in useful. He didn't free John himself but it wasn't long before Zed showed up courtesy of some Paduan nails.

That's the problem though.  You lack a little dramatic urgency when the solutions are so easily at hand.

Not to worry.  I'm sure "Constantine" will get itself pointed in the right direction.  There is a treasure trove of material to work with and once we get all the characters sorted out I'm sure the right amount of dramatic weight will be found.  The stakes just have to be raised a little.

Odds and Ends

So it was a big deal that "Papa Midnite" was introduced.  Hellblazer fans must be pleased.  There wasn't much dramatic urgency for we neophytes but I guess that will come.  Any character that has been cursed since the time of Slavery and uses his dead sisters head has to be fun.

I've read that Midnite is an off and on ally of Constantine but judging by the end scene of this past episode I'm guessing they are in their enemy phase right now.

The beautiful Angelica Celaya got a few moments as Zed.  Her dream state vision into the fate of Jasmine was pretty cool but her closing scene with the Cross was tantalizing.

I'm not sure of the significance of this totem but Constantine has his reservations about her so this must be a clue into her secret past.  (Secret to we non Hellblazer readers that is.)

"Constantine" returns with "A Feast of Friends" for the next episode but it's the episode "Danse Vaudou" that I am looking forward to.  Jim Corrigan will be intoduced and you know who that means!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sleepy Hollow - Trouble Brewing?

As of November 3rd Sleepy Hollow had earned an all time series low of 1.5 which was down a tenth from the previous week.  It's lead in show, Gotham, got a 2.4 which was up 2 tenths from the previous week.

So what is going on?

Could it be their gaze has shifted?  As pictured above, actress Nicole Beharie is baring just a little cleavage.  As the episode progressed (And The Abyss Gazes Back, October 27th.) we could count at least two more instances where Nicole advertised her wares.  This was spiced up by Tom Mison chiming in with talk of "buns" or "double jugs."

Are we watching Sleepy Hollow for it's salacious nature?

No, of course not.

When this episode was filmed there was no way that the people behind Sleepy Hollow could know their ratings were slipping badly but content such as this isn't helping.

This is why we watch Sleepy Hollow, for it's rich mythology and clever characters.

Has the ball, or should I say decapitated head, been dropped?

You'd think a show that added John Noble to it's cast would be excelling instead of foundering.  But every time the character of Henry Parish comes up with some evil tact it is easily countered by something found in the nick of time.

In the last episode, "Deliverance," it was a gem that cast a magical spectrum that ousted the evil Moloch from Katrina.  But it was all too easy.  As a viewing audience we are no longer being challenged by Sleepy Hollow.  The urgency is gone.

The Story of Redemption

Will the story of Henry's redemption be enough to save the series?  As a blogger I have cast my lot with is part of the mythology.  I was looking for something to grasp on to as I found my own attention waning with the show.  

 When Crane grabbed the hand of his on Jeremy (Henry Parrish) he glimpsed the frightened, lonely child that still exists deep down in Jeremy's soul  (Deliverance Nov. 3rd).  I'm glad Sleepy Hollow is pursuing this angle as it was just a guess on my part.

 Will this story line be enough to save Sleepy Hollow?  I am beginning to wonder.  Take a gander at the preview for the next episode of Sleepy Hollow, "Heartless."


Oh my, it looks rather salacious doesn't it?  "Get some?"  Gawd no.

C'mon Sleepy Hollow. rally!

After the winter break a new character will be introduced in the name of "Orion."   It's my theory that Heaven will finally get involved.  Why let Hell and Moloch have all the fun?  I'm also hoping Heaven will have it's own agenda seperate from the two "Witnesses."

That should spice things up.  Not this.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Constantine - The Darkness Beneath

Well, that was a lot better.

Can we really credit the introduction of a new character to improve the fortunes of a show that was just getting started?

I'm voting yes.

Angelica Ceyala was brought on to play the character of Zed and the show improved by leaps and bounds.  For Matt Ryan, who plays Constantine, gone was the frantic snarky nervousness.  Even in the scenes where Zed wasn't present he was more relaxed and exuded more confidence.

When Ryan was with Ceyala it was she that drove the chemistry.  See the picture above?  Acting 101, lower your chin, let the camera love you.

Don't let your mouth hang open in perpetual bewilderment.   Sorry Lucy Griffiths, not all of it is your fault.  Some of it belongs to direction.  But again, look at the above most picture.  We wanted tough and we got tough.

It helps to hold the frame when you are inches close to your lead actor too.  A little sexy, a little strength and a dash of courage from both the actress and the character.  Yay, well done "Constantine."   And not bad for the "Chica Bonita."

The Monster

Did you know that Constantine is being criticized for being a "freak of the week" show all ready?  And it's only been two episodes!  In it's defense, at least Constantine isn't throwing heavy mythology at us too soon.  Think Fringe and Buffy.  Both shows were credited for "getting there" first.  Pull your audience in with your characters and then drop the narrative bomb on them. 

Remember when Fringe went from "The Pattern" to the Red Universe?  Boom!  A nation of die hard followers were born.  (And they are still there.)

The monster isn't what we thought either.  Leisha Hailey who played the wife to Lannis was a totally sympathetic character.  Her cowed and frightened figure was juxtaposed to the crass, slovenly and domineering Lannis.  We wept for her.

Things began to change when she came on to Constantine.  You could perhaps forgive her because of her loneliness and perceived abuse.  Constantine sensed something different.

She was Romani.

How much was the wife responsible for?  Well, that is certainly a grey area.  No doubt she suffered as the wife to the tyrannical Lannis.  But possessing the power she had, she could have pulled back.  Instead she upped the ante and went to full on murder.

When her spectral husband grabbed her and pulled her to the darkness beneath she screamed, "I'm the victim!"  I believed her and I still do. 

It's a bit courageous for a TV show to instill the viewer with a dose of perplexity.   There is a fine line between victim and varlet.  "Constantine" played it's hand and it was up to us to decide where the darkness beneath really lay.

For myself, I am still chagrined, so good for "Constantine" for keeping us off balance.

For my next blog post, what's wrong with Sleepy Hollow?  Here's a hint.