Lucifer was a comic series that branched off of the critically acclaimed series, The Sandman. It its initial run it was met with similar praise although it never lived up to its predecessor in the way many would have liked. It was relaunched recently and has been on fire in the first two issues. So then, surely a TV show based around the original source material would be an entertaining blast? Not so much as it turns out.
Let’s be clear, it is not impossible to enjoy this programme if you adjust your expectations a little before watching. You are not going to get the same psyche probing journey that you do in the comics and it is not as deliciously dark or captivating either. It is, however, plenty of fun. At least in places.
The enjoyability of this show, counter to the comics, comes not from clever plotting or enigmatic characterisation but rather from unbelievably corny humour and general silliness. Lucifer is not presented as being all that serious despite his dark nature and just seems to make light of every situation he is in. There is precedent for that in the character’s previous depictions but he needs to be balanced out more effectively in order to make a more appealing anti-hero.
The scenes involving an extremely professional psychiatrist who become a quivering mess of horniness after meeting Lucifer is ridiculous, demeaning, and one of the most enjoyable in the show. The same can also be said for the moment when the fallen one scares a bullying child by showing her the old devil eyes. It’s in this last scene though that a problem arises. They are trying to make him too heroic despite his techniques being questionable.
If you asked most people what they imagine Lucifer to be like they would probably describe him as a big red ball of hate. Now, obviously that wouldn’t work as a series long lead but it would be more sensible to put a little more spice in his actions and present him as being as dark as people would expect. He doesn’t need to slaughter innocents as such but he shouldn’t be helping small children or hapless starlets either.
That leads us nicely onto the main problem with this show and that is the fact that it is primarily a police procedural. What essentially happens is that a down on her luck starlet comes to Lucifer for help and that’s exactly what he gives her, he actually tries to make a positive change in her life. Right before she is gunned down outside his nightclub. From there he begins to investigate her murder, alongside Detective Chloe (Ably played by Lauren German) who is the typical cop with a troubled past and something special about them. She does not hold much promise as a compelling co-lead.
The trouble is that this type of show has been done to death already and the world does not need another one to add to the ridiculously crowded list. It would have been so simple to go a less human route with this. They could have sacrificed the apparently relentless need for screenwriters to make everything annoyingly down to Earth and instead let The Devil be the conflicted character he occasionally is here but have him tackling supernatural instances instead. Yes, those shows are ten a penny too but at least there’s more scope to be unique within the genre.
Again though, not everything is bad and that is never more true than when Lucifer is having an introspective moment. This sadly only occurs once in the show and seems to be forgotten bout afterwards in favour of chasing a killer and having sex with various women. The time that is spent on it though holds some promise. Lucifer ponders his true nature along with that of humanity at large and that sort of philosophical writing is infinitely more interesting than some cop running about and shooting people.
The twice visited side story of Amenadiel visiting his brother to inform him that God has requested his presence back in Hell is intriguing and hints that the story could shift in the direction of a biblical battle. That would be a great way to salvage things and deliver a more unique offering that is currently on display. It’s doubtful they’ll do much with it though. Still Amenadiel’s black wings look pretty cool, so there’s that.
In terms of casting, the choice of Tom Ellis to play the titular character is a brilliant one. The rest of the cast shines too to varying degrees but it is his enigmatic, annoyingly charming, and very sexual performance that will win enough fans over. He is exactly the right person to bring this imagining of Lucifer to life and it should be a treat to see him continue to do so so long as the writing can be elevated to a suitable standard.
Should you watch Lucifer? Yes. Just the Pilot though and from there you will quickly be able to make up your mind as to whether it is worth continuing with. They have not produced an instant classic here nor have they seemed to try very hard to do so. This could become something of a cult favourite or it could go the way of Constantine and find itself on the cancelation pile one season in.
Either way things go it is clear that the source material deserved better and even though this show has some very good moments, it falls far from the level it should be at.
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