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By: Hess Sahlollbey
Mired in controversy from the moment it was first announced, including a petition from “One Million Moms” to have the series removed from television, Lucifer is finally here. And while it’s not the first crime procedural to feature the occult, it’s definitely the most stylish thanks in large part to its title character.
Fox’s new series Lucifer is based off Mike Carey’s comic-book series, Lucifer. The Lucifer comic, a spinoff of Neil Gaiman’s depiction of the devil in The Sandman, was published under DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. Much like Netflix’s Jessica Jones, Lucifer is inspired by the source material and isn’t a direct adaptation à la Walking Dead.
What if the devil got tired of reigning over all of hell and damnation and decided to take a vacation? That’s the basic premise of the show as we get to see how things unfold for him. Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) decides to relocate to the City of Angels and open his own piano bar called Lux. However everything changes for Lucifer when a friend from his past gets gunned down in his arms outside of his night club. He then teams up with Detective Chloe Dancer (Lauren German) to solve crimes and bring criminals to justice by using his supernatural powers.
If this all seems ridiculous, it’s because it is.
They managed to pull it all off by perfectly casting Welsh actor Tom Ellis in the title role. The writing of this character, combined with Ellis’ devilishly charming performance is what makes this series so great. Viewers begin to sympathize with the devil as his character slowly evolves and faces an existential crisis. He just oozes swagger and charisma and right away we learn that the big skill that’s helped him become such a success in our realm: he’s able to make people confess their darkest desires. This adds a fun motif to the show as people blurt out what they want or are thinking to him.
Lucifer is also a very stylish show. The direction is awesome and so is the soundtrack selection and set design. The opening shot of Lucifer in his convertible was perfectly set to Cage the Elephant’s devil-themed “Ain’t no Rest for the Wicked.” Combined with scenes of Lucifer in his bar drinking and playing the piano, the whole presentation really gives the viewer a good sense of who Lucifer is. It’s also very effective at setting the series’ mischievous tone.
However, as bold as Fox was to raise a little hell and have a series with Satan as the main character, I’m disappointed that they stuck to the case-of-the-week crime procedural format. The first case Lucifer solves is enjoyable, but the mystery was still paper-thin.
While it’s fun to see Lucifer use his supernatural powers to get what he wants, the secondary characters are shallow. Detective Chloe Dancer is still your typical no-nonsense tightwad who’s been paired up with a more eccentric character. Chloe may have a fun and unconventional back story, but I fear that her relationship with Lucifer may be played too safely as the series continues. Also bogging down the series is Archangel Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside) who occasionally pops up trying to convince Lucifer to go back to hell. His performance is stiff and a real detriment to the narrative. I can’t help but wonder if the show would have been better by simply having Lucifer gallivant in L.A. without all of the police work.
Taking into consideration the ongoing success of DC’s other comic-book shows, it’s safe to assume that they’re going to continue adapting more comics to TV. Lucifer proves that there is room for not just one more comic book—based show, but for an occult mystery show that is accessible to viewers. However the success of this show boils down to whether or not Ellis’ Lucifer can bring some light to the tired crime procedural genre and be a hit.
Photo Credit: John Fleenor/ FOX