Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Constantine And Flash Pilots Leaked To The Internet

So, this week the pilot episodes for the upcoming The Flash and Constantine series were leaked to the internet. They are easy enough to find, if you are so inclined. This post is going to talk about these pilots, so if you don't want to know anything until they away now.

Okay, now that they are gone we can talk.

Thank god that Constantine washed the bad taste of the terrible, terrible Keanu Reaves movie out of my mouth. I'm not going to say that the Constantine movie was terrible, it was actually a pretty good action/horror movie in a lot of places. What it was, however, was a pretty bad John Constantine movie.

There is something coming, that much is made abundantly clear. But what is it?

The pilot had a lot in common with British supernatural shows like Hex or Strange. The are elements of the movie, just enough to make it familiar to those who may have been fans of the movie. Demons are everywhere, and angels too, and it seems that the only person between the demons and the world is John Constantine.

The "Jasper Winter" who was the father of the female lead may be an adaptation of the Baron Winters character of Night Force fame. Of course, we will have to wait until October and more episodes of the show air before we find out more about this. We also get to see an Easter egg in the form of the helmet of Doctor Fate.

In this 45 minutes I learned enough to know that this show is going to be better than I expected, and that it is definitely better in the spirit of the John Constantine that we know and love from the comics. I am looking forward to the actual debut of the series.

Constantine may not be able to smoke, but he can light up. An important demonic name in the early Hellblazer comics was name dropped, which was exciting and cool. Overall, the pilot was good. Even if you have no idea who John Constantine is, you will be able to understand the story. While you can read all the Hellblazer comics that you want, they aren't needed to watch this show.

And now, The Flash. I can remember watching the first attempt at a Flash TV show. It was confused, telling a weird mix of Barry Allen and Wally West (who was The Flash in the comics at the time) stories. It didn't last very long, and it probably didn't deserve to either. It was an okay show, but there were problems with it.

That's neither here nor there.

Much like Arrow, from which it is a spinoff, The Flash is much closer to the DC Universe "proper" than Constantine. Caitlin Snow and Cisco Ramon have a backstory in the DC Universe that we may, or may not, get to see in the show.

Who do we get as our first villain? I'm going to go with The Weather Wizard. I could be wrong, but that's what it looked like. It also looks like we are going to have a "freak of the week" setup like we had with the bad guys during Smallville. The particle accelerator that caused Barry Allen to become The Flash also looks like it is going to be creating the villains that he is going to face each week. There is also a reference to Grodd quickly dropped during the episode.

DC Comics Chief Creative Officer, and the man who helped usher the comic version of Barry Allen back into the DC Universe, Geoff Johns was actively involved in the development and writing of the pilot for The Flash. That can be good or bad, depending on your opinions of Johns as a writer. I will admit that the episode has its rocky moments, I don't feel that it is as much of a home run as Arrow or Smallville was, or even as consistent as the Constantine pilot. I do want to see more, but part of that is because I want to see the show become its own thing and less of a redo of Smallville. Don't get me wrong, I liked Smallville but I think that The Flash deserves its own thing, and not just a rehash of old plots from another show.

A lot of comic fans think of Smallville as a dirty word. I enjoyed the show. My comparison to it isn't about the more "soap opera" qualities that a lot of fans didn't like, but more of the general set up of the show. X-Files used a similar "monster of the week" format at times, and I didn't like it better there. I know that some think that you have to give a character a motivation to act heroically, that people won't believe if they just do it, but I don't know that I agree with that. The Flash could easily build itself off of the heroism of the character, using that as the justification for his actions, rather than external forces. Television, however, thinks otherwise.

Time will tell, but The Flash was watchable. Like Constantine, you don't have to know decades worth of continuity to understand the pilot. That's definitely a plus. Everything you need to know is told to you as you go along.

Of course, Oliver Queen does make an appearance. If the two characters cross over further (and we know that they will), Oliver will likely take a mentor role to Barry. I enjoyed The Flash pilot, but my enjoyment wasn't as visceral as my enjoyment of Constantine. Much of my enjoyment of The Flash came from the Easter eggs as much as anything else. I think that the show has a capable actor in the title role, and I think that they should give him a chance.

We will see what happens with these shows in a few months. Will they make it past their first seasons? I think that, from what I have seen in these pilots, the shows are quality shows (which can be a strike against them in mass media). Will they stand up? We will know soon enough.

Now, how long until the pilot for Gotham leaks? If anything, this may be the weak link in comic-based television, but we ate going to have to wait and see.