The Blu-ray and DVD release that fans have been waiting over a year for is finally here: The Complete Series of Constantine has been made available in both formats courtesy of the Warner Archive. Those who liked John Constantine’s appearance on Arrow have barely scratched the surface on what a great character he was for television, and had yet to see what a great show in general Constantine would be.
Below, find our review of Constantine: The Complete Series.
The Episodes: Before Constantine premiered on NBC, and before anyone seemed to take notice of the show, there were the usual complaints: “Oh, this show should be on HBO, broadcast could never do it right.” But guess what? They did it right. In a year where The Flash was doing the fantastical on The CW, Constantine cornered the market on the magic part of the DC Comics universe. While they weren’t able to get to too much of the DC Universe, we did get to see things like Doctor Fate’s helmet and The Spectre. Storylines were adapted from the highly-acclaimed John Constantine: Hellblazer comic book series, and Matt Ryan’s look as Constantine was perfect.
It was obvious that show creators Daniel Cerone and David S. Goyer knew what they were doing with the show and had a great affinity for the character; having visited the set, that affection passed on to the crew, who put so much effort into a series that was sadly taken away way too soon. It is a shame NBC couldn’t have at least produced the final three scripts that were written for the series; on the bright side, as with any “gone too soon” show, at least the show disappeared before it had the chance to be remembered poorly.
One thing I appreciated about Constantine as a series that I didn’t get to type out much at the time is I felt like it was an evolving ensemble when it came to Constantine’s “mates.” Chas (Charles Halford) was always there, but Liv from the pilot was quickly replaced by the feistier Zed (Angelica Celaya). The role of Manny (Harold Perrineau) was also often changing and mysterious.
My favorite episode of the entire series is “Danse Vaudou,” partly because it features Jim Corrigan, the man we’d later know as the Spectre. But really, there are gems all throughout. I would love to see Cerone and Goyer tackling another DC tie-in someday.
Here’s the biggest problem with Constantine, in retrospect: It wasn’t that NBC neglected the show; they aired all 13 episodes, even tried a different time slot for it. The problem was mostly that there was that preconceived “it should be on HBO” notion as well as the fact that fans of the show didn’t really mobilize and assemble until it was too late. Those same fans can make their feelings known by ensuring good sales on this set so the Warner Archive doesn’t feel that they wasted their time.
The Extras: There’s a trailer; a Constantine: On The Set featurette isn’t very long or detailed, but it’s still good press kit type material and interviews. Interestingly, these extras still have “Watch Constantine Fridays on NBC” tags on them; I was surprised they weren’t edited out for the DVD release. It is a shame no featurette was done with Dave Blass about the incredible Mill set from the show; in all of the TV show sets I have been to, that one might be a favorite. The 2014 Comic-Con panel for the show is there, which is great because I wasn’t able to be there for it, and the “DC Comics Night at Comic-Con 2014” panel is also represented, featuring the casts of Arrow, The Flash, and Gotham as well.
I’m disappointed that there are no deleted scenes; there were a few alternate takes in the first version of the Constantine pilot that could have been included, easily. I also realize this is an Archive release, but episodic commentary by the writers or actors, even in one place, would have been so cool.
Packaging/Design: The discs look good, but there’s one thing that bugs me: There are a few copy errors on the back cover of the Blu-ray; extra spacing here, bolding mistakes there. I’m mostly nitpicking but some Quality Control folks should be able to catch something like that. Also, I do wish we had that great theme song playing in the menus.
Sound: Sound is one area where I did have a little bit of a problem with this set. The sound levels between the episodes and different extras varies so much, you’ll be racing to your remote because some features are too loud where others are too low.
Is It Worth It? You’ll probably be depressed when you’re done, knowing that there aren’t any more, but this set still gets one of my highest recommendations. I’ve always loved when the Warner Archive puts out a rarity; this show shouldn’t be a rarity but somehow has become one. Consider it the “lost” DCTV series. Now that John Constantine appeared in Arrow, he is out there somewhere. But yes. It’s absolutely worth it. And if John Constantine shows up in live action again, I hope he can bring Chas and Zed along too. Definitely one of the most underrated gems of recent TV history.