“In the beginning, the angel Lucifer was cast out of Heaven and condemned to rule Hell for all eternity. Until he decided to take a vacation…”
Thus starts the series premiere of the new FOX drama Lucifer, loosely based on the comic book series The Sandman. But Lucifer is, of course, more than just what that quote says. It’s what happens after the ellipses that matters. What is he doing on vacation/in retirement?
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Lucifer Morningstar, played by Tom Ellis, is quite the character — this TV show wouldn’t be anything without his portrayal and the personality he infuses the character with. He’s suave and charismatic. And not only that, but he usually gets what he wants because he has a gift, a power, that allows him to draw out people’s deepest desires, as he puts it. “I tend to appeal to the dark, mischievous parts in all of you,” he says.
Take the opening scene of the pilot as an example. After driving really fast in his obviously expensive car, Lucifer is pulled over but manages to get out of receiving a ticket by getting the officer to admit that he too likes to break the rules sometimes. This gift of Lucifer’s overpowers the officer and — voila — he’s off scot-free.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, though. As the pilot progresses, he’s able to use this ability to great success to secure vital information from others.
But things aren’t all sunshine and roses for Lucifer. Delilah, a celebrity, is suddenly killed just outside of the nightclub that Lucifer frequents. (Apparently, he owns it — and a demon named Maze, played by Lesley-Ann Brandt, is the bartender at the joint.)
In steps Detective Chloe Dancer (Lauren German), who is in charge of the murder investigation. Because of Lucifer’s gift, he knows how to get what he wants — and he knows that Chloe will find his information useful to the case. But his personality rubs Chloe the wrong way, and left and right he’s overstepping his bounds when she’s the one who’s the detective, not him.
This plot line — two opposite personalities working together to solve cases — reminds me of another recently-debuted FOX drama, Second Chance. In both shows, there’s a gimmick or hook attached to the lead character. On Second Chance, Jimmy Pritchard has been revived from the dead, has super strength and has to figure out if he wants to right all the wrongs in his life. On Lucifer, the lead is the Devil who has a very persuasive gift — and he’s grappling with the good and bad in life. Overall, Lucifer tends to execute that hook better than Second Chance, and it’s much more appealing to watch. Part of that draw is likely due to Tom Ellis himself and the way he plays the character.
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And I think that’s what it comes down to, really, is the lead actor. Without Ellis, I doubt that this show would be as engaging, because as fun as it is, Lucifer is also very predictable at times. I can already tell where this series is likely headed beyond the pilot — Lucifer and Chloe will continue working on various cases together, with Lucifer being his usual devilish self and Chloe trying to not only figure him out but also trying to rein him in. That exact plot is in the pilot, and this formula seems to be the main road the series is traveling down. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing if executed right, it’s also not new or original.
Outside of the case-of-the-week storyline, there’s also Lucifer’s past to deal with. There seem to be ramifications (or there will be) for him leaving Hell. He receives visits from Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside) warning him to return. “Where do these tortured souls go when the Devil leaves Hell?” Ominous comments like this one has me wondering what will happen on Earth if Lucifer decides to stick around. Will those “tortured souls” terrorize humankind or just go after Lucifer? This is not a big part of the pilot, but it’s just prominent enough to the point where you know there’s something major coming later on in the season.
That also has me wondering how much fantasy/mythology will be interwoven in each episode. Will it mostly be in the background, leaving the A-plot to the case-of-the-week? Or as the season progresses, will it become more prominent and change the dynamics of the show at all? It’s not completely unclear at this point, but I am curious to see what happens on this front.
Lucifer is fun to watch, with Tom Ellis shining above everyone and everything else. He’s truly the star of the show, and not just because he’s in the lead role. If the series can get past the predictable elements that I’ve mentioned and settle into a groove that works in its favor, then Lucifer will be enjoyable to watch all season long.
Check out a preview of Lucifer below:
Are you going to watch Lucifer? Does the premise intrigue you? And are you familiar with the comic book series it’s based on?
Lucifer premieres Monday, January 25 at 9pm on FOX.
(Image and video courtesy of FOX)