Based on a character who first appeared in Neil Gaiman’s comic series ‘The Sandman’ and was later spun off to his own book published by the DC Comics Vertigo imprint, Fox’s new primetime series ‘Lucifer’ seems at first to have a very fun premise… until the realization slowly dawns that this is going to be just another goddamn crime procedural show.
The Devil is British. He’s also young and handsome and roguishly charming. At least, that’s the form he’s currently taking. After eons ruling over Hell, the King of All Evil has decided that he needs a vacation. A long one. Where does a fallen angel go to get away from it all? Los Angeles, of course. Using the name Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), he’s now a nightclub owner who amuses himself by toying with the starlets and hustlers on the Sunset Strip. This seems like a waste of time, but perhaps that’s exact what he’s looking for.
Not everyone is pleased by this. Lucifer is paid a visit by his brother, the angel Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside), who informs him that their father (God, I assume?) is very cross and insists that he must return to the underworld. Lucifer refuses.
In his human form, Lucifer has the power to make anyone like him and blurt out their deepest desires as if he were their best friend. This allows him to manipulate pretty much anybody into doing whatever he wants. When it comes to pretty women, he usually wants sex. The show plays this for laughs, but the implications are very icky. Then again, the character is supposed to be the Devil, so…
When a pop star named Delilah whose career he has guided is gunned down in front of his club (Lucifer is also shot multiple times, but bullets can’t harm him), an LAPD detective named Chloe Dancer (Lauren German) gets the case. Lucifer is fascinated by her. His powers of persuasion seem to have no effect on her at all. In fact, she finds him kind of annoying. Lucifer is also certain that he knows her from somewhere, and is greatly pleased when he realizes that she was formerly an actress who had a famous nude scene in a teen comedy called ‘Hot Tub High School’. She’s spent years living that down.
Lucifer is very up front with Chloe (and with everybody) about being the Devil, but they all assume that of course he’s just kidding.
Lucifer is irritated that his friend was killed and wants to punish those responsible. He’s also impatient with Chloe’s methods and decides to solve the case himself. In doing so, he repeatedly crosses paths with her, including at Delilah’s psychiatrist (Rachael Harris). Lucifer uses his power to get information out of the woman, and in exchange promises to come back later and have sex with her. He may also want her help working through some of his daddy issues.
After several red herrings, Lucifer and Chloe arrive at the conclusion that Delilah’s sleazy record producer (John Pankow) ordered the hit. The man pulls a gun and shoots the both of them. Chloe wakes up later in a hospital, her face and hair of course perfectly made-up despite her near death experience. Lucifer is fine. He took his revenge off-camera in some unspecified manner and is satisfied. He likes Chloe and she’s grown to tolerate him as well. The episode ends with him signing on to be a consultant for the LAPD and use his quirky powers to help her solve crimes.
Episode Verdict / Grade: C+
The pilot episode is breezily entertaining and Ellis makes the character… yes… devilishly charming. The show has a nice infusion of humor and isn’t without some appeal. Still, I’d hoped for more from the concept than just another detective procedural. That seems like such a huge waste of potential. Ultimately, I don’t see this one being a keeper.