Tag Archives: Michael James Shaw

The Grassroots Campaign To Renew Constantine

Courtesy of NBC
Courtesy of NBC

We here at NotJustAnotherTVSite.com judge all major decisions on one primary criteria. Does it measure up to our expectation of quality? It seems simple enough. If it’s a show that we’ve decided to preview, promote, and cover episode to episode, you can rest assured the particular show in question maintains a certain level of quality. For the record, there have been shows that we have been over-the-moon excited for and ultimately decided that it’s time to walk away. Why? Because those shows failed to meet our quality expectation. NBC’s Constantine, is absolutely NOT one of those.

NBC’s choice to produce Constantine, and more importantly, this vision of Constantine was brave. NBC should be celebrated for that by the way. Like so many comic book adaptations pre-Marvel Cinematic Universe, were ‘adequate’. They were entertaining, but they were also made with the understanding that they had to be workable for most audiences, not just the comic book underworld. Spawn, Daredevil (2003), etc as comic book adapted movies were nice, but compared to today’s expectations would have fallen flat on their face. The comic book television landscape was even worse.

The point is that today’s audience does not need their show dumbed down or made palatable for all time zones. Constantine has done that. Constantine is born from the same genesis as Marvel’s MCU and recent successes as Netflix’s Daredevil. Do yourself a favor. Google Netflix Daredevil and read just some of the feedback. You’d think it was the highest rated show of the calendar year. The showrunners at NBC working on Constantine kept one very important detail constant. Tell the story from an adapted version of the comic books, Hellblazer. The 2003 Keanu Reeves feature was the product of Hollywood changing all of the incredible details in order to make a production that appeals to as many people and demographics as possible.

Appealing to mass demographics is good. High ratings are good. They help sell ad revenue. When I was in the radio industry, one thing was always made clear. All of it is window dressing if the end product doesn’t bring in ad revenue. Ad revenue was literally what kept the lights on. Not to sound too idealistic, but NBC can make its money from their heavy hitters. I began this article by citing quality. Now anyone who knows anything about TV knows there is a direct and inverse relationship between numbers and quality more often than not. NBC is still going to make a killing from shows like Law and Order and Celebrity Apprentice. Every now and then the two powers of ‘quality’ and ‘are they watching’ converge perfectly. The Blacklist is a great example of that. The Blacklist is an incredible show and people are watching it. In the case of Constantine, it was playing against stacked odds from the beginning.

Courtesy of Vertigo/DC Comics
Courtesy of Vertigo/DC Comics

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Placing a comic book adaptation show that the vast majority of viewers are not familiar with late on a Friday night was borderline criminal. Comic book adaptations draw, period. Maybe this is a ‘strike while the iron’s hot’ situation, but it is true and really not up for debate. Next to no one watches television on a Friday night, and they definitely don’t do it live. Putting them on Friday nights, then graciously moving them up in the time slot but keeping them on Friday nights, put Constantine behind the eight ball and NBC knows that. This is 30 Rock vs Studio 60 all over again. Anyone with an objective eye could look at the first few episodes of Studio 60 and the first few episodes of 30 Rock and know without question, Studio 60 was the better show. Without a good time slot and promotion, better shows are going to continue to fall.

Promotion is another factor that had Constantine playing catch up. Before NBC rolled out The Blacklist, every American knew this show was going to be big. All because of promotion. There were promos and trailer for The Blacklist everywhere. On sports broadcasts, on shows that had no relation or connection at all. Spader was out there. The Blacklist was going to be successful because it had the full weight and support of the network. Constantine was never given that opportunity. You cannot produce a show based on a comic book very few people have any real familiarity with and just let people stumble upon it and hope it takes off. It doesn’t work that way.

The last detail I’ll get into before talking specifics about the show, is audience. Not everyone is going to “Get It”. If the aim is to maximize viewership by making something that will appeal to everyone in the same way, make nothing but what some call “Lowest Common Denominator” television. Keep cranking out Law and Order, Chicago Fire, Parks and Recreation. There is a large and growing audience that wants no part of L.C.D. programming. To some of us, procedural is a four letter word. And in this “DVR Era” we, the viewer, can afford to be more choosy of what we watch and we get to dictate when we watch it. Now I have no idea if the ratings system has accounted for the current television era where the DVR has completely changed the way we watch television. Side note to television networks. I watch and obscene amount of television. Yet, I have not watched a non-sporting event (or game broadcast) live in almost 7 years. I sincerely hope you are taking that into account. Especially when you put a great show on Friday nights.

At the end of the day, you have the audience that will watch Bones, Big Bang Theory, CSI: Whatever, Survivor, Glee, etc and you are going to have the audience that has no interest in predictable, safe television. Serialized, big story arcs, sympathetic characters facing unbelievable trials is just more compelling to some than others. That my friends, is the difference. Ratings can no longer be a race to first. These networks need to start evaluating success and failure by two different groups at the same time. Take a look around the television landscape. It is getting very competitive. We really are experiencing a television and cinematic renaissance. You just have to navigate through the mountains of garbage to find it. If networks like NBC are going to continue to grade shows like Constantine under the same criteria as The Voice or Bad Judge, then another elite show is going to fall by the wayside. It’s not the same type of television and they cannot continue to paint all of these shows with the same brush.

Constantine is great. End of discussion. For anyone who has not yet seen it, take my word for it, Constantine is one of the better shows of the calendar year, regardless of network or time slot. That said, it did not start out that way. A large component in that again goes back to promotion by NBC, or lack thereof. If NBC had titled the show “Hellblazer” or ran far more promotion illustrating that this show was not going to be the story released in 2003 starring Keanu Reeves, then expectation and therefore results might have been different. They made very few attempts to convey that. So, most people went in with a certain expectation, which was not met.

The pilot episode on its own merits is alright and had the show continued on that trajectory, I would not be writing this piece now. By my expectations, the pilot episode was bad. Bad as in significantly underwhelming. So much so (again just my opinion) that I actually called up a colleague at the website to inform him I would not be posting a recap, but a ‘here’s what’s wrong with it’ piece. Thankfully, the consensus was to do just that, but leave room just in case they right the ship. The second episode is 100% better. By the time we are introduced to Papa Midnite, we’re off to the races and the show is exactly what it was supposed to be. Dark, intriguing, compelling, ever-changing, straddling the line between angels and demons lore and the plot plausibility. This is the problem.

The pilot episode feels like it had NBC’s Standards and Practices grubby little hands all over it. The pilot was bright and warm by comparison to the later episodes. When doing a comic book adaptation, visual texture is key. There is a reason The Dark Knight and Arrow were so wildly successful. You cannot produce a show like Constantine with that bright, bubbly sort of way. Thankfully the showrunners for Constantine were able to come back to their base and it begins with texture. Visual interpretation. Again, never more clear than the first introduction to Papa Midnite. By episode four, Constantine was must see TV. However, not many were watching it because the show stumbled out of the gate. If they were to run the show we came to build a strong affection for and aired it on Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday in primetime the results would have absolutely been different.

Courtesy of NBC
Courtesy of NBC

Constantine may be a show or story about angels, demons, magic and one man in the middle of all of it, but it is very much character driven. Characters are the vehicle to success. Every single significant character is sympathetic and compelling. From there, all they have to do is tell the story. The story from the perspective of the comic book adaptation, not a major networks softer, lighter version of that story.

As it stands now, Constantine ended on a MASSIVE cliffhanger. Probably the biggest season finale reveal I’ve seen in a few years. I remember it clearly. Watching as the clock ticked down, I was certain I knew what would happen next and how the episode and season would conclude. When people say, “I had to pick my jaw up off the floor” it’s always blanketed in hyperbole. Now my jaw may not have been on the floor, but I easily could have caught a family of insects with how wide and long my mouth was open at the final moments of the season finale.

There are still very important details yet to be dealt with. Big, incredible, trajectory altering details. To drop this show now, simply put, would be irresponsible. Look, I understand that NBC is still a business that has to deem a certain show profitable. I don’t think anyone is naive to that concept, but there are three hugely important concepts that I fear NBC is not even considering. 1. They put Constantine in a position to fail before it even began-not the show’s fault, 2. The audience they are trying to reach is not the Law and Order crowd, and 3. Sometimes a show is just flat-out better than others that create more revenue. You could not pay me to watch Celebrity Apprentice or The Slap. Sometimes the better, higher quality show should just win the day. On the merits of quality. Not because it makes more money, but because it is just a better product.

Here’s the kicker. It is my opinion that Constantine has not developed a consistent form of high ratings…YET. Move the show to a more appealing time slot and let people figure it out. One of my favorite quotes in all of television history (ironically from a show cancelled way too soon) is:

“I believe the people who watch television shows are not dumber that the people who make television shows. I believe that quality is not an anathema to profit.” -Jordan McDeere (Studio 60 Live On The Sunset Strip)

American television viewers are not dumb. They have the wherewithal to handle and in fact embrace a wide range of concepts and delivery methods. Despite popular belief, this country is not filled with Honey Boo Boo and Kardashian enthusiasts. We the viewers long for shows that push the envelope. That breach concepts and topics we haven’t embraced before. We want to empathize and build affection for characters. We want to feel like we have ‘experienced’ something from our TV watching time. We are in a different era of modern television. It’s about time NBC and other major networks got on board with this idea. Constantine does not need to be their bread-winner. It only needs to continue being what it is. One of the top 10 best shows on television. I don’t care what the ratings indicate. Give it a better time slot and let the showrunners, cast and crew do their jobs. The numbers will come. You just have to get out-of-the-way and let it happen.

If you’re a fan of Constantine, help spread the word. It is my understanding that showrunner, Mr. Daniel Cerone is set to pitch season 2 to NBC at the end of this month (April) beginning of next (May). And it seems NBC is willing to listen to fan outcry. So let’s do just that. We live in a new world. Utilize it. Access your Twitter account, your Facebook account, email NBC directly. Do whatever you must to explicitly and without any confusion articulate to NBC that they CANNOT let this one go. They cannot walk away from this show. And that it is not in their best interests to let Constantine die. The best shows available still only make up less than 10% of what’s out there. We cannot lose this one. Whether your efforts are here with us at NJATVS, social media or directly on NBC’s lap, take the time to support this effort. Use the established #saveconstantine or the more direct #renewconstantine and show those in charge that this show has a following, it’s larger than they think, and we will continue to support this series.

If you have not yet seen Constantine season 1, or feel you somehow missed out and need to give it another shot, NBC starting today Friday April 24th, will make the entirety of season 1 available to stream on their website for a limited time. Go to NBC.com (or the NBC app) and discover it for the first time or revisit it again. I don’t know if streaming numbers for this limited run is a test balloon or not. What I do know is that it’s worth watching, even if all that does is send NBC a message.

I can count on one hand the number of current shows that I would bang my fist against the table for. Constantine is one of them. The show did not get a fair shake and was judge by unbalanced criteria. Do your part to help the people who put this show together. Save Constantine. Make sure NBC knows they NEED to Renew Constantine.

#saveconstantine #renewconstantine
#saveconstantine #renewconstantine

Constantine: #SaveConstantine

Courtesy of NBC
Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A teen-aged girl walks into an abandoned fairgrounds…. Ok, just checking. A creepy old man sneaks up behind her to say, “You’re gonna die”. Before it gets too creepy, a group of what look like similarly aged girls scare away the creepy guy. With the way the group of girls is acting, they may have just swapped one creepy for a different creepy. All of these girls are married (at what looks like no older than 14) to “the Man”. Somehow after hearing this, the first girl is also interested in marrying “the Man. The man in question then chokes out a security officer after offering to jump the man’s truck.

John picks up the clues pretty quickly that our old friend Detective Jim Corrigan is passing along. A fellow detective was killed pursuing a missing persons case. Three girls, 6 months apart in age.

The Man has taken the nice officer and locked him in his own house. The Man walking around like he now owns the place. Even claiming that the officer made him miss his wedding. Or at least the prospective newest wedding. John, Zed and Corrigan go to the burial site of the late detective. While there, a corpse sits up. Gary Lester’s soul accessing that corpse to convey a message.

Soul of Gary Lester: I had to warn you.
Constantine: I’m all ears Gary.
Soul of Gary Lester: There’s a price on your head.

Papa Midnite is the one offering the prize for John Constantine’s head.
The young girl in question has awakened and moved to investigating the strange home she finds herself in as well as all of the strange marking on the walls. Vesta (the girl) is met by the other three wives. She’s slightly put off but apparently not enough so to get out of dodge.

John, Zed and Corrigan follow-up with the missing girl’s mother. John and Zed sit in the girl’s bedroom. Zed is drawing a complete blank. She is stressing about something though. Then she tells John that she saw Jim (Corrigan) dead in her vision. Corrigan walks in and Zed storms out.

Downstairs, Zed indulges a little small talk with the mother. Manny appears. Zed’s mood instantly changes. She says in disbelief that, John says you never come right when he calls you. To which Manny replies, he doesn’t ask as nicely as you do. Zed has the ability to subconsciously call for Manny based on her relative need to see him. Even if she doesn’t actively do so. She also, has the enviable gift to choose whether or not to act on her visions. I’m getting the feeling Jim Corrigan is about to get some bad news.

With Zed’s visions turning up squat, John elects for a different approach. He puts hair from the girl’s hair brush and her toothbrush in his mouth than electrocutes himself on purpose. The Tibetans call it, “Piercing the Vail”. DNA plus cardiac arrest takes him on a spirit walk through the girls memory.

This whole ‘Sister Wives of the Damned’ thing is almost too much to deal with. Vesta suddenly remembers that her mother doesn’t know where she is. The tragic thought of inviting her mother to a wedding to a man she’s never seen who has already been married three times before to three other girls of similar age, didn’t seem weird at all?

A man pleads with Papa to help him. He killed the mother of his child when only scaring her was the idea. He pleads with Papa to help him. So he does. Papa puts a very large knife through his chest. Now the man is awake. His mouth stitched shut and his eyes are completely white. The man lashes out in a carnal rage, but the raising of Papa’s hand reels him in. Papa took this man’s life in order to give him a different one.

Papa Midnite: You exist now for one purpose only. Reduce John Constantine’s life to dust.

After ‘piercing the vail’, John seeks out what he saw. In the fun house he is attacked by Papa’s new toy. A zombie like creature that he can control like an Avatar. The fight is not going John’s way when Corrigan shoots the creature a couple of times. In that moment John impresses upon Zed the importance of getting a vision this moment. John needs an address.

Zed’s vision shows the officer who was strangled. He is bleeding out slowly from multiple wounds. He is writing something in blood. Back in reality Zed asks for something to write with. The something he was writing was a street address backwards. 4 Delano St.

After collecting himself, Papa Midnite looks to another creature. A crow. He blows the ‘essence of John Constantine’ dust on the crow and lets it loose.

The good guys pull up to an old house. The crow is already there. This is the house from Zed’s vision. They follow a noise up the stairs. They find the officer essentially crucified. Constantine looks through the window of that room and sees the Crow.

Constantine: You two need to leave here right now. There’s trouble brewin’ here and I can’t risk it following us.
Zed: What kind of trouble?
Constantine: The bounty hunter kind, now go.

Papa arrives at the house with a shotgun in tow. He’s in the house ten seconds when John turns the corner. Papa doesn’t hesitate and he puts a slug in John’s chest. John quickly explains the situation he walked into. Plays up the ‘stain on your soul’ bit which Papa is not buying for a second. The bounty is worth it. John’s life to restore Papa’s sister’s life. A life for a life. John realizes there is only one power strong enough to that. It’s the same power behind the rising darkness.

John begins to present a counter offer when Papa shoots him in the head. You can hear the body fall to the floor. Papa’s face reveals a reaction that is not a ‘satisfied’ one. The body he shot and has been talking to what that of the dead officer. John used a reanimation spell combined with a glamour spell. Not impossible but brilliant for the moment.

Corrigan found a hit in the police database. A man killed his wife on their wedding day because she wasn’t “the virgin bride he deserved”. The girl is finally terrified when she discovers that the wedding service follows the scripture and imagery of the devil’s variety. He goes to give her a ‘wedding ring’ with a large rope around her neck, and she finally bolts.

John makes it to the house of the man from 6 years earlier. Upstairs there is a dark room with a bed, and apparently a significant stench. He throws back the covers on the bed to reveal our three previous brides. Decomposing. Upon further searching, John bumps into Corrigan and Zed. They venture outside and John walks up on the Man dragging the girl by the hair like a caveman. John commands he let the girl go and the Man flees. Right into the business end of Corrianne’s gun. Then Zed proceeds to be the tar out of the Man with a shovel.

(Corrigan handcuffs the Man)
Constantine: Tell me, what would happen to a man like this, with all the children he’s taken, murdered, what would happen if he tried to run away?
Corrigan: He’s no demon or ghost, he’s a man.
Constantine: A man? Is he Jim?
(Corrigan pauses and removes the cuffs, then draws his sidearm)
Corrigan (whispers) Run…
(Zed and the girl hear a gunshot)

John goes back upstairs to the bed of the decomposing sister wives and completes a spell that releases their souls from the bodies they were bound to. Police arrive at the house where Papa attempted to kill John just as Papa woke up. Zed is compelled to explain to Corrigan why she couldn’t look at him. She saw him dead. He decides to take advantage of the moment and ‘make every moment count’. Corrigan leans in to kiss Zed and she doesn’t stop him. With John watching from the doorway.

What happens next is what all Constantine fans have been waiting for. An indication. Something found within the context of an episode that shows a commitment. This version of the Constantine story started of weak. The second episode redeemed itself to keep interest. By the third episode, we were off to the races. By the fifth episode, most of us who have a context for what is expected vs what was being delivered believed wholeheartedly that Constantine deserved to be renewed. Yet once again, NBC has hidden behind the fear of inconsistent ratings of a great show stuck in a horrible time slot. Tonight we got an indirect ‘indication’.

With seven minutes left in the episode there are any number of ways they could have taken this. There was an opportunity to end the episode in a way that suggests that was it, story concluded. There’s a way to finish the episode with no commitment to any sort of future. And then there’s what they did. Manny walks up on John urinating under a bridge. John is having trouble accepting that the evil tonight came from a mortal man. Manny inquires about John’s commitment to the cause. John comes back with the gem, “I don’t play if I don’t think I can win”. John finds himself monologuing to Manny about what they can do and what they will do. This was a subtle call to arms. This was John Wooden in the huddle. This is Leonidas telling his men that they will dine in hell. It wasn’t arrogant. It didn’t reveal anything specific. However, if NBC was going to let the prospect of Constantine Season 2 just fade away and die, this was most certainly not the play you call. It may have only been an indication of what might be on the horizon, but it was an indication.

Then there is a scene change. Papa Midnite rolls up in the back seat of a police cruiser. Now this is the moment I’m yelling at my television. I’m blown away that John walking off into the distant rain is not the end of the episode and season 1. Then my wife says, “They need to leave it on a cliff hanger”. I reiterate that they’ve already done what I needed them to do. They didn’t bring closure on the big picture story arc. They didn’t kill John Constantine. And furthermore, John and Manny just told us that it’s not over. Short of NBC calling a press conference or tweeting, “Constantine Season 2 is official”, I’m good. Then once again, as men tend to do, we sit back and watch our wives proven right.

Bear with me as I do something I try not to do. Throughout any of my recaps on NJATVS, I will transcribe moments that I think show a certain quality of writing. Could be dialogue or it could be a detail important to the future plot. But generally I try to keep them short. For the reasons I’ve mentioned and because I think my brain jumped out of my head and is sitting on the carpet next me, I’m going to transcribe this final scene on the off-chance you the reader, didn’t have an opportunity to watch the episode. My transcript will not do it justice, but it is worth noting.

(Time has frozen to a stop)
Papa: What is this?
(The car door unlocks and opens freely)
Papa: Who is it? Who’s there? Reveal yourself.
(The sound of Manny’s arrival is heard)
Manny: You are in no position to be making demands.
Papa: Who are you?
Manny: Your savior. (He gestures with his hands and the cuffs fall off)
Papa: So that’s it? I’m free now? What’s the catch?
Manny: You’ll never be free. You gave up any of that when you went to work for the Bruharea.
Papa: What do you want?
Manny: I’m cancelling the contract on John Constantine. You understand? He is off-limits.
Papa: You work for the Bruharea?
Manny: No. The Bruharea work for me.
(Manny flies away)

::Mind Blown::

Constantine: Manny Walks A Mile In Another Man’s Shoes

Courtesy of NBC
Courtesy of NBC

A dark entity in what appears to be human form savagely tosses around an adult woman, ultimately jamming two syringes in her chest.

John follows a string (in the Mill House) that leads to a door. On the other side of the door is a pleasant view as if it were outside. Very similar to the Star Trek Holo-deck. Inside, Zed is meditating. Her facial expression says she’s hiding from something. Could be the effects of the last big vision. John gives her the ‘ol suck it up, we’ve got work to do standard.

Manny appears as John sarcastically suggests they all take a holiday. Sarcasm not being a nuanced part of language that Manny cares to indulge in. Manny tells John about a woman who is about to be admitted to a specific hospital and her ‘situation’ is worth paying attention to. John gets smart with Manny and heads towards the scri-map. Then Manny bursts the map into flames. The entire landscape is too big for the scri-map now. When Manny leaves Chas’ meat suit, Chas asks, “how did I get over here?”

At the hospital, John stabs Chas in the thigh with a screwdriver to create a distraction. Within arm’s reach of this woman Manny spoke of, they notice blackness in her veins. Never a good sign. Zed touches her hand which sends her into a full on vision. In the vision the woman in question lunges at her awake and in the distance we see a silhouette that resembles Manny. She snaps out of the vision. A few moments later, Zed falls into a full on seizure.

While John waits for Chas to get out of his hospital gown and into some pants, a very large and intimidating man walks into the ER. He is rude and angry, but clearly a regular. Can’t really place his importance yet, but there’s something there.

John and Chas make their way down to the morgue. The victim lies motionless on a metal table. John starts an incantation. When the spell is complete, the woman appears to be black as paint. Her inner darkness is all-consuming. Normally some humanity will shine bright enough to be noticed. Here, nothing.

A doctor enters Zed’s room. He’s there to deliver an update. Her cat scans came back. She has a small mass on her temporal lobe. First impressions are that it’s a tumor. A diagnosis that John rejects on spec. Zed is concerned. As is John, but he refuses to show it.

A janitor that was sipping from a flask in the morgue is now on the main floor. He makes his way to the supply closet and walks past the fluorescent bulbs he needs to fix a light. Instead he reaches for a large brown bottle and proceeds to drink. Inside the supply closet, another dark form ravages the janitor.

A doctor walks out to the rooftop John is smoking on. He asks to borrow a cigarette. When he hands one over, the doctor is no longer the doctor. Manny flicks the unlit cigarette over the edge. Before Manny can get a word out, John physically attacks him yelling, “FIX IT”. John’s emoting over the prospect of potentially losing Zed in almost any capacity. John told her to push through, ignore the pain. Of course believing that the pain didn’t come from some mortal illness. Manny gets back in his face but in a constructive way. Or so he thought. Manny suggests that John only focus on what he can control. John agrees. Then drops a vile of what looks like red gas (a vile of air from Hades) , then stomps on it. This knocks out Manny cold. John then says a few things (we assume in Enochian) while carving what looks like a bird’s-eye view of the Starship Enterprise into his chest. When Manny wakes up, he is in human form. Whether he like it or not.

For all of our Supernatural viewers, this should play out like an early Castiel situation. For those uninitiated, Castiel is an angel to take control of a willing body. The discovery phase of an angel experiencing life through the lens of a human is much different and takes some getting used to. It’s also generally very entertaining to watch play out.

John follows the flickering light to the supply closet almost pulling Manny along. Inside they find the janitor mauled to death. The smell as opposed to the visual is too much for Manny. The sensations afforded humans is often too much for angels on their first go around. Manny is no different, who pops vomit in the corner. Inside the man’s carcass, John finds a ‘heart of darkness’. The man’s organ is visible but looks out-of-place. Blacks, purples and blues. Manny tells a story that John knew as a myth, Manny knew as actual events that he was present for. A great battle to take down a sorcerer. In the end the evil was contained in a black diamond of evil. The stone’s pieces were intentionally broken so no one man could wield its power. The great flood (yes, Noah, the arc the whole bit) spread the pieces of the black diamond all over the earth.

John goes back to the Mill House where Chas has been looking into Jasper’s research on this very issue. Chas has shown real concern for Zed since early in this episode. He asks John about her and John wants very badly to just ignore his questions. Eventually Chas physically turns John around and demands to know what John knows. As it turns out, John by way of Jasper has a box that contains one of the fragments from the Black Diamond of Evil.

Manny is at a nurse’s station trying to print out files on our to Jane and John Doe’s. The nurse is very pleased to help. Very pleased. So much so that she suggests getting Manny the actual active files, more updated. Manny is ill-equipped to handle or even understand why this nurse is touching him and staring deeply when the situation does not call for it. They walk down the hall and suddenly she throws him into another supply closet, forcefully having her way with him. I’d go into greater detail (as a laugh literally out loud at my television) but for recap purposes, we like to keep it family friendly.

At the Mill House, John’s big plan is to remove the black diamond shard and get Chas to hold it. This will show John just what it does. It will probably kill Chas, but we now know why that’s perfectly acceptable. The only question mark comes between what it does and Chas dying. At first nothing happens. Then the evil surges through Chas’ body. He can’t or won’t let go of the stone. He is endowed with great power. Enough that he throws John across the room. A cattle prod to the abdomen stops him though.

John: You see that there (gestures to Manny), what you’re feeling? That’s embarrassment. Its socialized and it’s not worth it.
Manny: I feel…guilty. The man’s body had all of these feelings and I used a woman to extinguish them.
John: So you made two poor sod’s feel pleasure? A momentary relief from the tragedy of everyday living.
… …
John: All those chemicals, swirling around. Your heart aches, your head hurts, make it hard to concentrate doesn’t it?
Manny: Yeah, I don’t know how you get anything done.

Once they get back on track, Manny goes over the two respective files. Both have addictions. Both had second chances that they squandered. Manny actually gets angry at the notion of throwing away a second chance. Then possibly, the killer feels the same way. Maybe that’s how he chooses victims. Morris, the large man with burnt skin that gives the nurses flack, could be next. Then John suggests that he look into Morris while Manny checks on Zed. Manny then asks, “She’s ill, if you can’t speak to her now, then when can you?”

Manny walks into Zed’s room where her actual doctor is not really getting anywhere putting her at ease. When he leaves, she looks a Manny and asks, “who are you?” Not in a curious way, but in a ‘I can tell you’re not a doctor’ sort of way. Manny explains that John has trapped him in this body and he just wanted to check up on her. She’s disappointed that John didn’t come. But then she charges into question about her ‘gift’. Concerned that they may be evil and not a gift from God. With Manny trapped in the human form, he is disconnected from his angelic powers. But he is able to reassure her based on what she’s said. “It seems to me, you have all the answers you need”.

John does not find Morris, who is out attempting to smoke a cigarette, the thing that ultimately killed his wife and daughter by his own reckless behavior. The lights flicker and the dark man runs towards him. We actually get a decent shot at the killer’s face. Very strange.

During an attempt to get John to open up about his feelings for Zed (and we are not assuming they are of the romantic variety) they have an epiphany. Zed’s doctor is the killer. He served and almost died in Baghdad. The name of the Black Diamond of Evil loosely translates to “Baghdad”. Now the doctor comes into Zed’s room to confront her about rescinding her consent for the tumor removal procedure.

At just the right moment, John and Manny enter the room. At first glance, it almost seems as if the doctor doesn’t know that he is the killer. John removes the black diamond shard and extends it (in the protective case of course) towards the doctor. He feels the effects immediately. He slashes Manny’s arm and throws John before running away. They give chase. Zed gets the vision again. An angelic silhouette and a radiant white light. She tells John it is a divine holy light. They both look at Manny who is momentarily confused.

John: Manny.
Manny: What?
John: You need to open your shirt.
(John rips his shirt open)
John: I’m reversing the spell I cast on you, mate.
Manny: Are you telling me…
John: I could have released you at any time.
(Manny growls at John)

The moment Manny is released the killer (whatever it is) finds them. It knocks John to the floor and John begins begging for Manny’s assistance. Manny appears in all of his angelic majesty. The creature responds and walks slowly toward Manny and his light. Manny assures him that his work here is done and its time to go home. Manny wraps his wings around them creating a ball. Eventually, the light brightens and they disappear leaving only John’s box with a black diamond shard and out of the thin air the doctor’s shard falls to the floor. Then the shards (broken from impact with the floor) levitate and fuse with John’s piece.

John walks into what looks like a church were Zed is praying. John tells her a story that he hasn’t told anyone else. Every morning, John wakes up and spends the first five minutes of his day meditating to the idea that everyone he cares about is dead. Then when that is not how the day ends realistically, it’s a good day.

Then Manny appears. John tells Zed that Manny has arrived, but she didn’t need him to tell her. She can see and hear him as clear as John. His presence answers her question about where her visions come from.

Courtesy of NBC
Courtesy of NBC

The First Annual NOTTIE AWARDS

Collage Created By Jason Jones
Collage Created By Jason Jones

It’s that time of year, when everybody’s coming out with their “Best-Of Lists” and we are adding yet another list to the pile. Welcome to The First Annual NOTTIE AWARDS, our version of the numerous Awards shows that get televised across the planet. Our list varies from other awards, in the fact that we cover the entire year of 2014. The NOTTIE AWARDS, breaks down the year starting with the 2013/2014 season’s conclusion, going through the summer shows as the first half of the year. The second half of the year covers the 2014-2015 Television season, making sure that all performances throughout the year, receive the recognition, they deserve.

As you peruse the list, you’ll notice that all categories have four names, except for two categories; Most disappointing series of the second half’s vacant. The other category that breaks the rule’s the Best Supporting Actor, in the second half, there were far too many outstanding performances to limit that category to just four actors. In all categories, the name listed first and in blue, won the category, the runner-up’s listed second and in red, the third and fourth names are just randomly listed.

All choices were made by Jason Jones and I, all decisions by the Judges are final (Although, We’d Love Your Feed-Back.)

And on to the Awards:

First Half

Best Actor: James Spader-The Blacklist, Tom Mison-Sleepy Hollow, Lee Pace- Halt and Catch Fire, Sean Bean-Legends

Best Supporting Actor: Peter Capaldi-The Musketeers, Walton Goggins-Justified, Jon Voight-Ray Donovan, Tom Felton-Murder in the First

Best Actress: Mackenzie Davis- Halt and Catch Fire, Joelle Carter-Justified, Kerry Bishe- Halt and Catch Fire, Kathleen Robertson-Murder in the First

Best Supporting Actress:  Amy Acker-Person of Interest, Tamla Kari-The Musketeers, Sarah Shahi-Person of Interest,  Marissa Neitling-The Last Ship

Most Disappointing Show: The Leftovers, The Black Box, Resurrection, Power

Best New Show: The Blacklist, Legends, Halt and Catch Fire, Murder in the First

Most Underrated Show: Justified, Supernatural, The Musketeers, Halt and Catch Fire

Best Show: The Blacklist, Person of Interest, Legends, Justified

Second Half

Best Actor: Jeff Daniels-The Newsroom, Ioan Gruffold-Forever, Elyes Gabel-Scorpion, Matt Ryan-Constantine

Best Supporting Actor: Sam Waterston- The NewsroomJohn Noble- Sleepy Hollow, Judd Hirsch-Forever, Misha Collins-Supernatural, Jesse L Martin-The Flash, Mark Sheppard-Supernatural, Michael James Shaw-Constantine, Robert Patrick-Scorpion, Mandy Patinkin-Homeland, Robin Lord Taylor-Gotham, Sean-Pertwee-Gotham, Donal Logue-Gotham, Rupert Friend-Homeland

Best Actress: Claire Danes-Homeland, Anna Gunn-Gracepoint, Emily Mortimer-The Newsroom, Alana De La Garza-Forever

Best Supporting Actress Olivia Munn-The NewsroomJacki Weaver-Gracepoint, Elizabeth Henstridge-Agents of SHIELD, Chloe Bennett-Agents of SHIELD

Most Disappointing Show: None Applicable

Best New Show: Forever, Scorpion, Constantine, Gotham

Most Underrated Show: Constantine, Forever, Scorpion, Sleepy Hollow

Best Show: The Newsroom, Homeland, Person of Interest, Forever

Constantine: The Unholy Alliance Ultimately Renders Results

Courtesy of NBC
Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

A woman walks down a dark alley. A cop, too drunk to contain himself, relieves himself on a building as she passes. A strange woman with surgical mask invades the first woman’s personal space. She looks upon the innocent strangely. Like a stray dog that smells food. Then stabs and slashes the victim’s neck with scissors. The drunk cop fires many shots at the assailant, none of which are able to even slow her down.

John, Zed and Chas this time venture out to New Orleans to investigate this incident. At the scene Constantine pulls out a wristband of sorts. Looks like a thick banded watch. But the face of said watch tells no time. It indicates the type of entity nearby. Blue means there was a spirit nearby recently. Green means it’s in the vicinity. And red is bad news. They are met by the drunk cop who failed to slow down the non-human. Before they left, Zed had one of her visions. Now presented before the cop, she is able to put together the vision to the cop. The cop is skeptical, but accepts John’s card. Even if it still reads, “master of the dark arts”.

An older man picks up a young hitch hiker (late teens early twenties) who sounds like he isn’t comfortable with words. The kid is cold. The old man driving makes a reference to warming him up as he puts his hand on the young boy’s leg. As Zed and John approach the elevator in the hotel, Zed sees the inside of the elevator as her next vision. Outdoors in the woods. A tree is ‘scarred’. Then she turns to see a car speeding right for her. John pulls her out of the elevator to interrupt the vision.

In the car, the old man asks intentional questions as to whether or not anyone is expecting this kid in the city. Gauging how safe this bet of his is. He turns to look at the road then back to the passenger seat where the kid is supposed to be sitting. Only he is not. The man looks forward again and standing in the middle of the street is that kid, only now there is blood coming out of his eye sockets and mouth. The man swerves to avoid hitting the kid and instead fuses his car with the tree from Zed’s vision.

When the team arrives on scene, Zed decides to assert herself with the local authorities. Her efforts crash and burn quickly. Just in time for the drunk cop from earlier to show up and arrest John. Typical of cops in this type of story. Only considering what they can rationalize as long as it’s 6 inches in front of their face.

Chas takes to retracing the first crime scene. The little illuminating wristband shows blue, which means a spirit is nearby. He sees a man in the alley and quickly gets between him and the spirit. The same spirit from before. She asks Chas if he thinks she’s pretty. He says yes. She removes the mask to show her mouth savagely slashed. She then proceeds to stab and slash Chas many times. It looks like Chas is going to die in that alley, but by now we all know better. At least maybe, we will get some insight into what Chas is.

At the precinct, the cop drops a file in front of John who is handcuffed to a desk. Kind of cute really. With all that we’ve seen of John to this point, handcuffs should be child’s play to him. By the end of the scene, John takes the work the cop’s already done and looked ahead to what the next move is. The cop, still skeptical, asks how do you live with it? Knowing what he knows. So at least the cop is starting to accept that maybe there is something to what John is saying.

EMT’s find Chas in the alley. They rip his shirt open to administer CPR. At this point Chas is not breathing with a bleeding gash that stretches the width of his torso. Just then, Chas wakes up and gasps for air. He then looks at the EMT and asks if they have a clean shirt in the ambulance as the huge gash heals itself in a few seconds.

John and Zed split up the leg work. John with the paroled model, Zed with the Grandmother of the hitch hiker. They have one thing in common. They were both approached by a man who could help them gain closure by addressing the entity directly. Speak to the dead model and the dead hitch hiker. Can you sense it?  The hairs on the back of your neck stand up. I sense Papa Midnite.

It appears that Papa Midnite is moonlighting as a seance for money racket. Which seems to be actually effective. While he channels a certain woman’s dead husband, he is interrupted by John. Papa Midnite is visibly angry. Not just for the intrusion but still a little residual anger over the acetate. John explains that he is not speaking to the dead, he is raising them. Papa Midnite blows some sort of powder at John and John slowly passes out.

The cop (Jim) finds Zed at the scene of the accident. She’s trying to keep people away from the spot, just in case Phillip (hitch hiker) returns. Jim has a better idea. They’re going to try to pick up Phillip. Meanwhile, Papa Midnite alone in a dark lair of some sort speaks to a skull. As he is a Voodoo priest, this doesn’t seem that far out of sorts. During this, he grabs the skull which is hanging as if he would a living person in order get close and ask an important question. Is Constantine telling the truth? His expression says all you need to know. Side note. Papa’s tone and eye contact with the skull tell me there is more to it than just an ordinary skull. Maybe even a portal to a loved one.

In the home of the woman trying to reach her dead husband, Papa Midnite discovers that he did indeed raise Clark (the husband). Consequently, despite her joy, the wife looks terrible. Her appearance compared to that of Clark’s seems to suggest that Clark is killing her the way he died. With cancer. Papa makes his way back to the car. John has escaped the trunk and taken the driver’s place. Constantine was right, to Papa Midnite’s chagrin. And now, there is a lot of ‘we’ being thrown around. The debt over the acetate has been erased. However, John needs something else. He has a question for Midnite’s sister. Along the natural progression one has to assume the skull from previous, must belong to Midnite’s sister. Which will only be granted if they are successful. And thus, the ‘unholy partnership’ begins.

Zed and Jim attempt to pick up Phillip’s ghost. While they drive, Jim discovers that he recognizes Zed. Only her name has not always been Zed. Then they find Phillip’s ghost and he gets in the SUV. Zed engages in small talk. Motivated small talk as she already has the answers to the questions she’s asking. The second she says his name, Phillip vanishes. Like an idiot she turns to the back to look for him. Then as expected, when they turn around Phillip is standing in the middle of the road. Instead of swerving to miss him, she guns it right for him. His spirit disappears again.

John and Midnite travel out to Clark’s resting place. The idea being, if they can rob the corpse, they can perform a spell that will remove the spirit from this plane. An idea that Midnite is not comfortable with. From his perspective it is disrespectful and sloppy. Sloppy as it may be, they go ahead with it. Meanwhile Zed and Jim try picking up the hitch hiker again. Same dialogue except this time Zed leads with calling him Phillip.

Constantine and Midnite are essentially singing the same song in different languages. Three corpses bundled on a large fire. As they burn, both men recite incantations of two completely different origins. The spell does not work. Then the two men begin accusing the other of being the weak link. Words are exchanged. Midnite throws a low blow by insinuating that Constantine’s methods don’t work so well. Especially when it came to that little girl (Astra). Then Constantine retorts with, “at least it wasn’t my own bloody sister”. Midnite responds with a right hook. Constantine jumps back up and begins to claim that it wasn’t Midnite’s power that raised the dead, it was the women bring their pain into his house. Then he stops short and knows what went wrong.

In a very compelling scene, but visually and substantive, the women are escorted to Midnite’s location for the spell. John explains that their guilty combined with their constant observance allowed them to raise the spirits of their deceased. Then when Madeline (Clark’s wife) says she can’t lose Clark again, Midnite steps forward and gives a very nice short speech about a person’s time to go. Then they attempt the ritual again.

In the middle of the incantation, Midnite almost seems possessed. He falls to his knees and the fire around the bodies gets larger. Then the various spirits in their various locations, one at a time vaporize. Then the same thing happens to the corpses. Jim leaves the scene as soon as the ritual appears to be working.

Jim drives to Zed’s location. She thanks him for helping. Then he starts to tell a story about working missing persons. He recognizes Zed’s face. She doesn’t attempt to avoid it. She’s honest about the shoplifting that was caught on camera years ago. She asks if the file still exists. He says no. Then leans down to kiss her hand. When he does, everything goes green. Then just like with Phillip, the image of Jim is blood coming out of his mouth and chest. Clothes tattered. But he speaks to Zed like there is nothing wrong. Remember, green means ‘its in the vicinity’.

Papa Midnite (hands Constantine a drink): Our truce is over at the bottom of that glass. So sip cautiously.

Midnite makes reference to John’s lack of faith. That being the reason that his magic failed. This is the beauty of two men at the apex of their respective crafts. We see it from two completely different vantage points. As a Voodoo priest, Midnite believes deeply in what he knows to be true. Constantine, being (as Midnite put it) a Jack of all trades and master of none, knows the facts but doesn’t operate within faith. It’s the whole knowing and believing aren’t the same thing bit. Then Midnite offers to let John speak to his mother. But that wasn’t the deal. John wants to contact Midnite’s sister. With her in hell, she could potentially shed light on the uprising of darkness John believes is taking place.

Midnite walks over to the skull and whispers something to it. The response he gets back, though not audible, freezes him where he stands.

John: Well…?
Midnite: All of your efforts are in vain. A darkness is coming. Heralded by someone close to you. Someone who will betray you.

Just conjecture on my part, but that has to be in reference to Zed. Mysterious history. Tight lipped about her past. Has a powerful psychic ability. Just happened to present herself at an ideal time. And even at the close of episode 2, Constantine himself acknowledged not knowing her true motivation. It cannot be Chas. And that pretty much sums up the people who are “close to him”. Once again, the show that stumbled out of the gate continues to improve at an incredible rate since the stumble.

Constantine: Everything Changes After Midnite

Courtesy of NBC
Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

I normally don’t begin this cynical, but tonight’s episode will impact greatly the long-term success of Constantine as a television series. If you saw last week’s tease, you know that we are anticipating the introduction of Papa Midnite. I don’t want to oversell it, but this is critical. Papa Midnite is the type of character people will tune in for, if he’s done right. Djimon Hounsou is big shoes to fill. If this is done wrong, not getting picked up for a second season could be a best case scenario. With that said, the show has made strides. Last week’s episode on some level renewed my faith in the show. So, here’s to hoping that trend continues.

Well, here’s a disgusting way to open. Not a negative, just pointing out a real-time reaction. Joelle Carter (who plays Ava Crowder on the hit show Justified) hesitantly walks through a door adorned with dead mice. Then sees a collection hanging large animals still dripping blood. A far cry from the cattle scene in Rocky. As she continues, more carcasses are strewn about some still twitching. She eventually reaches a wall. She exhales and expels a cloud of breath, usually an indication of a demonic presence. Then we see the sigil spray painted on the wall. She removes a brick from the wall and pulls out a large book that reads “Holy Bible” and a record within the book.

In a recording studio, she turns the record over to a man with an accent. She stresses that she’s only interested in the ‘spectral analysis’ and not to listen to what the record plays. He cannot help himself. At first the audio sounds just like the blues. Then the audio changes and the headphones freeze over. By the way, the headphones plug into a 1/4″ jack on the mixing board. It should be easy to find. Unplug it genius. He eventually rips off the headphones. His ears are burned off or something. He grabs a screwdriver and jams it in his right ear.

So far so good. They are really stepping up the texture of the show (one of my biggest issues thus far). Chas welcomes Zed (I’m being extremely sarcastic) and they enter the house. Where John is chanting something awful and covered in blood. He’s practicing a new spell. Zed comments that the house looks bigger on the inside. Chas responds with, “that’s because it is”. We have a Tardis situation.

Zed: That doesn’t make any sense…
Chas: If you’re looking for sense, you’re stepping down the wrong rabbit hole.

Side note: I hate to be a stickler for this, but they need to at the very least give us some sort of hint as to what Chas is. You can’t watch him die, then 90 seconds later have him walk in the room as if nothing happened and never explain it. If it’s a slow build story line, that is perfectly alright. But they need to give us something, and relatively soon.

John reluctantly agrees to take Zed with him to Chicago to investigate one of his many Stigmata events indicated by the map. This one is in Chicago and deals with the Producer who stabbed himself in the ear. Once inside the morgue, John uses the Hand of Glory (looks like a rotting hand whose fingertips act as candles. Then one could communicate with the dead as long as the candles are lit). Eventually, the man in question wakes abruptly. As do all of the other cadavers in the morgue. The trick didn’t render the desired results. Gibberish to John for all he knows.

The woman from the opening scene takes the record, wrapped and covered and slides it into a spot on her large record bookcase alongside many other records. Moments later her young daughter noticed something odd. The bookcase was beginning to freeze over.

Zed introduces John to Google and we find them paying a visit to the owner of the once Moonrise Recording Studio. In short order he begins to spill the beans on why that particular record should never be listened to. As it turns out the Blues singer on the record had sold his soul to the devil. Then as he was recording, the voice of evil was recorded onto the acetate. The walls began to bleed and the black substance engulfed the singer and exploded him. Then our Studio manager picks up the record and could clearly hear voices telling him to do horrible things.

The story continues and Zed comforts and thanks the man for helping. Then he in that moment, believes it’s his time to go because he can see an angel. It’s Manny. Time freezes and only Manny and John can move about. It ends there but in the truck ride back, Zed inquires about the name the old man said that John recognized. Yet another musician who sold his soul for success. John gives a very lovely explanation for why soul’s are so valuable to the devil. Then we find the little girl (Joelle Carter’s daughter in this episode) pull out the record in question and talk to it.

As it turns out, Joelle Carter’s character sold her soul to a soul broker to save her husband who was dying of cancer. She was offered a counter deal. If she could deliver the acetate, she could trade that for her soul again. The drop is supposed to happen tonight. John goes in her place and finds a soul broker lackey. Then while he interrogated the soul broker, there is a sinister laugh in the distance. Prepare to fanboy/fangirl out.

It’s Papa Midnite. And he has an accent. He is the one behind the pursuit of the acetate. One thing seems abundantly clear right now. Forget any notion of this Papa Midnite being anywhere near that of the movie. This Papa Midnite is clearly not neutral. One of Midnite’s goons knocks out John. Then John is awakened while strapped to a metal surface. Midnite injects him with an anti-coagulant. Probably to bleed him out slowly. The idea is to treat John like a human hour-glass.

Side note. This Papa Midnite is deliciously ruthless. It seems as if the approach was that they could not replicate Djimon Hounsou, so let’s not even try. Go in a completely different direction (again leaning heavily toward the Hellblazer side of things) and hope it is intriguing enough. For me, I love it. They had to do Papa Midnite correctly. I just wasn’t completely sure what ‘correctly’ necessarily meant. This may just be what I was looking for.

While Midnite’s goons are out securing the acetate, Manny appears as a homeless man. It would be nice if he’d just cut John loose. But that would be very un-Manny like. He claims they have the situation under control. Which would leave John expendable. Zed shows up in the nick of time to get rid of the homeless man (no longer as Manny).

With John on the mend, they still need to find the acetate. Hopefully before Manny’s guys do but definitely before Midnite. Instead of heading the warning of the severity of contact with this recording, Midnite’s goons got more than curious. Compelled even. And they took it and played it at a club. Where one must infer a massacre ensued.

Chas shows up at the behest of Zed. Early in the show John asked Chas to look into Zed’s past as he is not entirely clear of her motivation to help or harm. Zed finds a bus boy who was miraculously unscathed. As it turns out, despite John’s horrible skills of deduction, that the bus boy is deaf. As John gives his tale of woe for what is to come next, Zed starts tugging on Chas’ arm. She sees a giant white tiger as clear as day behind the bus boy in the ambulance. Yet no one else sees it. Chas in turn sees a leaflet promoting a local college radio station. Next stop, the college radio station.

Chas hands John an mp3 player with headphones. John turns it on and asks Johnny to give him ‘some juice’. The song playing is Anarchy in the UK by the Sex Pistols. It plays while John runs determinedly into the building. Chas tries to break into the exterior structure that presumably holds the station’s transformer. When that doesn’t work, he drives a car into it. Luckily, taking the station off the air temporarily.

Just then, Papa Midnite walks in the studio donned in his normal eclectic attire accessorized nicely with purple earplugs. Midnite blasts the house speakers with a nice old shotgun that he takes time to give the back story of. Then the goons open the door to the control room, guns pointed at Midnite repeating ‘it must be played’. While the door is open and the three men standing are in a Quentin Tarantino like standoff, John starts an incantation. The incantation was to dispose of the recording in the only effective way possible. To send it back to hell. Which was exactly what Manny was concerned John would be incapable of doing. Seemed rather effortless actually. The result of which from inside the room looks anything but effortless.

John, Chas and Zed return to rock star’s home with the soul broker in tow. John can convince the soul broker to give back what his wife paid. Her soul. However, the catch is that if payment is returned so must the service. She gets to live, but his cancer will return. Naturally, she won’t allow this. He was diagnosed 20 years ago, so they play the ‘advances in modern medicine’ bit. Fun little detail. For a soul broker to break the contract, he literally has to eat the contract. What’s funnier still is that the soul broker is played by that familiar character actor who I first saw in a peanut butter commercial as an Aaron Burr enthusiast who is about to win a radio contest but can’t be understood because…wait for it…his mouth is full of peanut butter.

As we see the wind down (a term I literally just made up) we see Zed, dressed for bed. She removes a cross from around her neck looking very suspicious. If she’s Gabriel possessing the human form, I’m going to be at least slightly upset. Then following that we see Papa Midnite construct a Voodoo Doll that roughly resembles John Constantine.

. . .

Behind the scenes here at NJATVS I have been increasingly critical of this show. I had extremely high hopes for this show. While I enjoy a great many details, I had become concerned that pulling almost exclusively from the Hellblazer series would be a mistake on some level. I was almost incendiary towards the lack of imagination given toward the visual aspect of the show. I am happy to report, that while there is still room to grow, tonight’s episode went a long way to establishing itself as a series to stay with.

I hope that NBC gives it time to develop. Networks love to try this comic, super hero, science fiction shows, but rarely give them the opportunity to develop. The worst thing for shows like this are ratings. Ratings are misleading. I have experienced and embraced three of the top 50 shows of all time (in my opinion) for the first time long after they had concluded their run. We as modern television viewers rarely watch anything live. And in no way are the ratings an accurate measuring stick for what is good and what is not.

Constantine started out slow and has begun to build. We have built up enough ‘speed’ on the details that I’m confident this show (if it continues on its current path) will not only be worth the full season, but should get picked up. They stuck it in a terrible time slot, but the show is worth watching. I didn’t feel that way three weeks ago. I am looking forward to the next episode. Even though NBC did not air a teaser at the end of this episode.

Constantine: The Spirit Of Dead Miners

Courtesy of NBC
Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

John decides to start going to work on the map. First stop is a mining town south of Pittsburgh. A miner mysteriously died in his shower. Chas will not be joining John on the PA trip as that would violate a warrant out for Chas concerning a train derailment and a succubus.

In a strange town, a woman repeatedly sketches John Constantine from visions she experiences. The sketches are not exact and one could deduce that she has actually never met Constantine. As she continues, she draws actual events in real-time. Then John and this woman actually bump into each other. Literally. Physically. Her reaction is wonderment. His more like the way you react when someone asks for money after you were asked, “hey man, can I talk to you for a second?” John pulls the slip on her.

John places himself in a bar where a ‘lazy’ Irish style wake is taking place. John suggests to one of the patrons that the death may have been caused by actual dragons. Another patron interjects that the death(s) over the last year were peculiar. Then he mentions the knocking. There was a knocking just before it happened. John decides to investigate the mine itself.

First sign is when the loose rock covering the mine floor begins to follow John. He walks deeper into the mine and finds a spot. There he gently takes his rock hammer and taps the rock cluster three times (very quietly). A moment passes then the mine knocks back. Then begins to shake and John has to book it, to get out in time.

At the home of the widow, people come in bringing home cooked food items while John brown a microwave dinner. Just in an effort to slide in undetected. He immediately searches for the part of the house that reads “Family Only”. He finds the shower head that killed the miner and gets a sample of the black ooze from within it. The wife comes in and they engage in small talk. But she’s clearly hiding something. She doesn’t seem distraught in the least. She begins to come onto him (which also feels put on), then when he pulls back, she starts yelling for him to leave.

Outside, the owner of the mine and his goons take shots at John and John lets them. He gets a few shots in first, but John could waste these three if he wanted to. After the initial punching, John and the owner share a cryptic back and forth. Then John leans in

John: You heard it as well, didn’t you? The knocking.

The sketching woman, is waiting in John’s ‘honeymoon suite’. The conversation and search for answers doesn’t exactly go the way Zed (the woman) would like it to. She reaches out to a shirtless John Constantine and can feel what John has been through. John is intrigued. He tells her to ‘park it’ and he begins to send her on a spirit walk, but first he asks her to close her eyes and hold out her hand. Then the puts a small amount of the black ooze in her palm. She then sees what the dead man saw before he died. She comes to, and John tells her that he’s going to change his clothes they ‘they’ will get to the bottom of this. Then he gives her the slip, again.

John follows the clues from Zed’s vision to a small church. Where two young people are doing the deed inside the church. I’m not one to push theological convictions on anyone, but who doesn’t know better than to get naughty in a church? That’s just common sense stuff. He chases the kids off but notices a black man/demon like image painted black on the wall.

In his bag, John pulls out a large thermos full of water. He cuts his own finger and leaves a drop of blood in the water. He then recites an incantation and dumps the water on his head. As the water trickles down he can see the actual representation of the creature painted on the wall. The new lifelike image is smaller but very real.

John is passed out on Zed’s couch when she arrives home. She immediately takes to kicking him out. John turns around and flips the tables on her. Inquiring as to why a woman of her appearance and age is slumming it in a small mining town. He then starts in with the seduction of demons and taken souls. She does not waver.

Back at the mine, there is an explosion billowing out from the mine shaft. John grabs a random miner and asked about the knocking. Then he swiftly jumps in the passenger seat of a truck that has the owner’s son at the wheel. Then the truck locks itself and begins to fill with that same black ooze. It almost consumes them both, but Zed comes to the rescue by way of crow bar popping open the door. Zed goes to check on the driver. Dead.

John: They are the spirits of dead miners. They knock on walls to warn of danger.
Zed: They’re protecting the miners. They warn them of danger instead of causing it?
John: That’s right. Traditional Cob-lanai, they never rise to the surface. And they certainly don’t murder.
Zed: So what’s the explanation?
John: Could be the rising darkness. Something is forcing evil to the surface in waves. Changing the rules. I’m sensing a bit of the human touch.
Zed: Like someone’s calling these spirits up?
John: Nothing says revenge like death by demon.

We’ve been casually recapping, but NJATVS is nothing if not forthcoming. We want to share the journey, so I’d like to insert something here. I was very critical of the first episode. Focusing a great deal on the imagery. This particular story is only as good as how it’s presented. And while I think it’s not there yet, this episodes has made some significant strides. Imagery wise, there were a few scenes where John loses the red tie and goes to the black one. The show is still too bright, but when in doors we see more of the darkness around John. The second big thing is this particular story (while it still just feels like a monster of the week) is more intriguing than what we faced in the pilot. And third is what I’m about to see.

He is putting her in the chair in order to use her visions as a tool. Very similar to Keanu’s John taking the spirit walk into hell to see if Isabelle really killed herself. It’s not enough to accept that there are things that go bump in the night. We need to see what that looks like. Do not underestimate the value of the imagery. Otherwise, take away the British accent, give him a blue tie and wings, because this might as well be Supernatural without all of the things that make it Supernatural.

John induces a vision from Zed that allows her to describe what she sees as they try to locate the preacher. It works seamlessly. They follow the directions from the bartender. When they see the preacher, John starts in with an incantation. The preacher is un-phased. And almost as if to mock, begins lazily reciting the same incantation back at John. The preacher adds some clarity and informs our new duo that whatever is doing the killing is not killing the miners. It’s killing the bosses. Leaving one left. The owner.

The owner goes down with what I assume is his youngest son. He wants to investigate before the men come back to work. Bad idea. It doesn’t take long for the first of the spirits to come after the owner. John and Zed arrive to see the spirit choking the owner. John instructs Zed to paint (with spray paint cans). Then John begins speaking to the spirit. The owner is dead, but the son is not. John decides the mine needs to be closed for good. Zed calls on the preacher.

John: Sometimes the appeals of faith needs some time to be answered. Care to do the honors?
Preacher: For my son.
John to Zed: I need your car keys.
Zed: What for?
John: To do the hard part of course.

John goes back to the widow’s house. She claims to have guests. They guests that have been doing the killing. He tries to talk some sense into her, but she drunk with her own gypsy power. She orders them to kill him. While John is being taken down by 3 spirits of dead miners, he raises a valid point then a spirit. These spirits she’s controlling are the spirits of dead miners. She murdered a minor. Then he summons the spirit of this house to seek his revenge. The spirit of her dead husband comes to pull her underground.

Side note. Let me be clear. I accept the lore. I don’t pretend that I believe 100% of this (or any % of it really) is real. I accept the lore. And it takes a lot more than saying the words “I summon” to in fact summon a spirit of any kind. Look at the Constantine movie. Look at Supernatural. Look at any show, movie or book that deals with the lore of summoning spirits. You can’t do it by simply saying the words. Creative license or making it up as you go, this was a pretty big eye sore for me tonight.

John returns to his honeymoon suite where Zed is lying on his bed wearing what appears to be more delicate than a t-shirt and jeans. John tries to chase her away with things like “I work alone” or “people who put their trust in me end up dead”. Zed’s not giving up that easily. There are questions to be answered but the only one of any interest to her is, “Are we going to help each other out or not?” Then John passes out.

Interesting voice over to close out the show. John says, “some things pray for you and some prey on you, and no matter how careful you are, you just can’t tell the difference.” And in that final instance we see John passed out on the bed. And on the word ‘difference’ we see Zed slowly turn her head toward John.

If that were not intriguing enough, next episode marks the introduction of the element that in my opinion will make or break this series.

Courtesy of NBC
Courtesy of NBC