Tuesday 26th of January saw the latest TV series based on a DC comic hit screens in the UK. Premiering on Amazon Instant Prime this will release new episodes every week. However, will it be a hit with viewers or go the way of the similarly theme Constantine (NBC, 2015)? As the title says it is a Hell Yeah! or is it just hellish?
The character of Lucifer Morningstar was created by the wonderful Neil Gaiman as a supporting character in his Sandman book. The Devil had appeared across the DCU, but here Gaiman created something special, pitching Lucifer somewhere between the description of Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost and 1980s David Bowie. His first appearance in Sandman came in 1989, having ruled hell for 10,000,000,000 years he has become bored with his existence, he expels all the demons from hell, closes the gates and hands the keys to Dream of The Endless (The lead in The Sandman series)
He was then spun off into his own title, which ran from 2000-2006. Where he retires to earth and runs a Piano Bar called Lux. He is sophisticated and charming with the book focusing on the issue of free will on earth. Lucifer represents free will and he challenges the tyranny of predestination. He is described as someone who never plays safe, goes where he likes, picks fights where he finds them and generally wins.
Now, I have never read either Sandman or Lucifer and I am not overly familiar with DC’s Vertigo imprint, so beyond a bit of light reading into the character I was going into the pilot with no real prior knowledge. Having said that, what I did know and following on from the intro above, I was expecting something quite dark and brooding. This didn’t quite work out that way.
So, what about the show itself. We open with an inter-title,
“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…”
Immediately we get the sense that this is going to be much lighter in tone than it’s source material. The opening scene confirms this as Lucifer wise crackingly performs a Jedi style mind trick on a traffic cop. Among his powers are the ability to manipulate people by tapping into their hidden desires, along with immortality and communicating with the recently deceased.
Lucifer owns and runs Lux, a high end night club in central LA (an upgrade from the piano bar of the comics). He is visited by a singer who he helped to get her start in show business. When she is killed right in front of him, he finds himself feeling guilty as his actions ultimately lead to her demise. He wants her killer to pay so sets on a mission to find him which puts him at odds with the LAPD and Detective Chloe Decker in particular. She is a no nonsense cop who used to be an actress who showed to much of herself to the camera. She is fighting to get the respect of her peers and is somehow immune to Lucifer’s powers. From here on in it is pretty much a police procedural with a mystical element.
British Actor Tom Ellis takes the lead here. He tries his best with a role that calls on him to do little more than posture, smolder and utter what seem like very laboured wise cracks. He looks the part for sure and he is trying, but he just isn’t given much support by a poor script.
The supporting cast fare little better, D.B Woodside from Buffy, 24 and countless other TV shows is lumbered with an utterly out of place angel character. He is supposed to be a threat to Lucifer, his link to the other world, but just looks so ridiculously out of place he just looks like he is embarrassed to be there. It is hard to imagine him rattling anyone’s cage, let alone The Lord of Hell.
The cop/love interest Chloe Decker, has some potential, a former actress who showed a little too much trying to get the respect of her peers. She comes across as a hard ass who is immune to Lucifer and that intrigues him. Shame she is played by Laura German, who is so wooden Tom Ellis could get splinters if he gets too close. She has a cute kid and a generic cop ex-husband too, but it is too early to tell what will become of them.
The most interesting character for me was Mazikeen, a bar maid at Lux and Lucifer’s friend and confidant, she has left hell with him and is a warrior demon. She didn’t have much to do in the pilot but I am intrigued.
Overall, the show is daft beyond belief with some unbelievably clunky dialogue and some bordering on statuesque performances, it is just not very good but some how I enjoyed it. I did laugh a lot but mainly at just how terrible it was in places, but I will be honest and say that come next Tuesday I will be watching again. While it is never fair to judge a show on it’s pilot alone as there can sometimes be months between that being made and the rest of the episodes, I don’t think some of the problems with this can be ironed out.
I would be amazed if this show gets a second season, but if you are after something bad that its good then Lucifer is for you, if you are hoping for an homage to Gaiman’s Sandman universe, then its probably best that you give this a miss.
Verdict: Hellish, but I just cant stop watching.
Thanks for reading. Hope you folks enjoyed yourselves, catch ya later on down the trail.