Martin Carr reviews the fifth episode of Constantine…
Shall we play a game?
What do you get when one veteran film maker with broad genre credentials takes on a protagonist with hell on his heels? Answer, a languid Louisiana vibe straight from the voodoo heartland of New Orleans. Filmed in back alleys, side streets and bearing the heart of a deep south still mysterious to many, Constantine continues giving us what we crave with a little more Papa Midnite to sooth the soul. Amongst the voodoo rituals, burning pyres and psychic visions which pepper this episode there is a small surprise which purists will rejoice over; the arrival of one Jim Corrigan.
Sketched in meticulous brushstrokes by Emmett Scanlan ex bully boy of Channel Four ogle fest Hollyoaks, Corrigan comes with some pretty heavy baggage. There is more back history here than six seasons of this show could explain away, let alone ten episodes. What we have to content ourselves with then is another performance from Ryan which seems as natural as breathing, while Corrigan is portrayed as cynic, sceptic and convert all in forty minutes. It feels like a rush job, while Zed is given little to do apart from act as a flesh and blood plot device.
Michael James Shaw does more this time round as Papa Midnite instilling the character with three dimensions, all theatrical flourish, voodoo accoutrement and bombast. He gets more time on the playing field and Ryan gets a run for his money. There are also a few backstory moments which add intrigue to an otherwise by the numbers murder mystery plot. However for the first time I can say that ‘Constantine’ seems to treading water. This is no criticism merely an observation but the introduction of Corrigan is a perfect example of what I said last week.
Although adequately handled introducing Jim Corrigan within a forty minute episode is asking for trouble. There is simply not enough time to do him justice. Everything seems hurried, compressed and increasingly at the mercy of schedulers. Give Constantine the Sherlock treatment. Make each one feature film length and allow the characters to breathe, rather than running from one discovery to the next before tying things off with a cliff hanger. With the news that Constantine has only been granted a run of ten episodes means this approach is unlikely to happen. It remains one of the great travesties of television that quality and longevity often distance cousins at best. I hate to bring up Firefly again but there was a perfect case in point. Rarely is good source material allowed the time to find its feet, feeling the need to throw everything but the kitchen sink into a pilot in an attempt to gain that all important commission.
If The Strain can gain a twenty two week run and be no better than average then Constantine deserves better and a whole boat load of faith. Please treat these words as gospel from one who believes. Allow him time to meet the rising darkness head on vanquishing all comers with a lit cigarette and nicotine habit strong enough to level livestock. Only then with justice done and a green light for season two will the faithful be appeased.