Last night we had the television premiere of Constantine. The new series on NBC stars Matt Ryan as the petty dabbler in the dark arts. We also meet Liv Aberdine (Lucy Griffiths) who is the daughter of an old friend of John’s and has the ability to scry, which allowed her to see where bad things were going to happen. She was going to be a regular in the series. And the around the time of Comic-Con, word came that she was out and a new character would be introduced. Angelica Celaya was brought in as Zed Martin, a character from the Hellblazer series that through interesting circumstances was once John Constantine’s lover.
The change in characters meant some reshoots and cuts. The number of references to Jasper Winters was pared down and a few background scenes with Liv got trimmed. In the original pilot we learn that her father had watched over her, had photos he’d taken tucked away in a table in the house where all the artifacts were kept. Also cut is a moment where Liv asks John if he can bring her father back to which he replies she wouldn’t like the results. But those were minor cuts.
The two biggest reshoots were at the ending and if you haven’t seen the episode, you may want to skip the rest of this.
On the rooftop when the security guard transforms into a much more haggard version of Constantine and the two face off… well in the original pilot, the security guard never shifts form, always staying as the guard but his face took on a demonic quality as glowing lines formed markings on his face. This didn’t change the outcome much at all. The only reason I could see the change here is either someone got the idea that having Constantine face off against himself would be more dramatic… or the more plausible reason is that they used and multi-overlaid voice for the demon that made it sound childlike and a bit hard to understand.
The biggest change though is at the end where in the pilot, after being shown the bad thing that accord on Edgewood Ave, Liv decides she must use her ability to scry to help save people with John. This was actually John manipulating her into doing what he wanted and had his friend Ritchie (Jeremy Davies) drive 10 blocks out of his way to make it happen. But with the character being cut, the ending was completely reshot with Chaz (Charles Halford) showing up with the scryed map and telling him that Liv was gone. We then learn that John had Ritchie drive 20 blocks out of his way to scare Liv off. Hence the character is gone.
My problem with this, and it is the biggest hurdle that the show will have to get over… where the new ending works for the character switch, the original ending IS Constantine. He is the a-hole who would manipulate a situation to get things to work the way he thinks is best even if it cost some kid their life. He’s not the type to go scare someone to safety if having them around makes his life easier. The new ending is very NBC safe. The gruff hero with the heart of gold. This begs the question, will they let John be John or are we going to end up with a watered down, New 52 style Constantine?
One really nice thing about the change between the pilot and the episode that aired is the very ending where we meet Zed who is an artist… the art is gorgeous and thought it passed by pretty quick, it was either from the Hellblazer covers or close to it in style. I can’t say for sure and hopefully the message board can fill this in… but it looked to be some of Tim Bradstreet and/or Glenn Fabry pieces.
Overall I liked the episode and I think most of the cuts made it better than the original pilot… and I will be watching, hoping that heart of gold is very very tarnished.