Based on the eponymous 75-issue comic run by Mike Carey (itself a spin-off of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman), Lucifer tells the story of the titular lord of Hell (played by Tom Ellis) who chooses to leave his domain in favor of the mortal realm. While there, he eventually partners with LAPD detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German), and begins to assist her with homicide cases, viewing it as another outlet by which he can punish the wicked. And it is here that the pilot (and possibly the series as a whole) more or less derails.
While the concept of Satan as an (anti) heroic figure is always going to be a hugely tough sell, Lucifer positioning of the figure into a police procedural formula does nothing to remedy this inherent problem. Police Procedural television (even those with a supernatural angle) are a dime-a-dozen, and a feeling of ubiquity seeps into the show as soon as Lauren German’s blandly performed Chloe/Strong Female Television Cop #87 enters the frame. This is compounded by the simple fact that the Devil himself assisting a low-level detective on cases is such an absurd premise it is simply too hard to swallow, though the show’s light-hearted, almost campy tone seems to indicate the writers are aware of this.
A redeeming aspect to the otherwise bland pilot is Lucifer himself, and his portrayal by Welsh actor Tom Ellis. Ellis brings a good amount of charm to his character and the show becomes infinitely more endearing when he is at the center stage (which, thankfully, is for most of the show’s run-time). The supporting cast, ranging from Lucifer’s demonic bartender Maze (Lesley-Ann Brandt), the Angel Amenadiel (D. B. Woodside), and Chloe’s ex-husband/fellow detective Dan (Kevin Alejandro, who Arrow fans may recognize as Sebastian Blood), are extremely one-note, even taking into account the fact this is a pilot, with all of them receiving little dialogue and characterization to make them stand out.
Overall, I can find little to recommend in Lucifer, as even its better elements have already been done, invariably in a better way, on contemporary fantasy programs/procedurals. Unless the show can craft more innovative material in the coming installments, I have a feeling Lucifer’s vacation from hell may be cut short.
Rating: 5/10 Stars
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