First appearing in Isiah 14 way back in the Old Testament, Lucifer Morningstar picked up some traction in name recognition by tempting a certain household name hero from Nazareth three times. He then spent the middle ages in large need of a PR firm to help fix his image. But in 1989 he was finally introduced to the comic-book-reading community in Sandman issue #4 by Neil Gaiman & Sam Kieth. Generally positioned as an antagonist in that series, later Mike Carey scripted a solo series which lasted for around fifty issues for him… in which he was often cast as an anti-hero.
Now Lucifer has come to television (Fox, to be specific) in a pilot scripted by the creator of the hit Showtime series Californication and directed by the creator of the Underworld series Len Wiseman and it stars Tom Ellis as the titular character and costars Lauren German, D. B. Woodsides, Rachel Harris, Kevin Alejandro, and Lesley-Ann Brandt. This series – with barely a pilot under its belt, has already come under attack by the Million Moms Movement (or something like that, who cares, they’re probably just five women with big hair and bad attitudes – that part only being my opinion, of course, please don’t sue me) who don’t realize it’s way to early for a fight in a year where the Preacher television series is premiering and they should really conserve their energy. But as it goes with every incident like this (The Last Temptation of Christ, Dogma, etc), they only piqued my interest in this show. Keep up the great marketing, ladies!
Before we go any further, I’d like to take a moment to make some small use of my worthless college education by pointing out that “Lucifer Morningstar” is a redundancy. Lucifer is the Latin Vulgate translated from Hebrew which means “Morning Star”. So the character’s name is literally Morningstar Morningstar (and he isn’t even a child of Frank Zappa). Knowing how much smarter than all of us Neil Gaiman is, I can only assume this is meant as a joke. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.
As a quick synopsis of the pilot, bored with ruling Hell, Lucifer leaves and moves to Los Angeles, California where he opens a bar. Gifted with the talent for having people expose their deepest, darkest desires (not a confession of sin, mind you) and being immortal, Lucifer joins up with a female detective, who no one wants to work with and is apparently immune to his skills, to help track down the killer of a human Lucifer was fond of. They develop a sort of bond and he becomes a consultant working with her to solve cases. At the same time Lucifer’s skipping out on his divine duties makes his “father” angry and an angel emissary is sent to warn him to get back to work and stop being merciful and compassionate towards humans. Also Lucifer sees a psychologist due his existential crisis of caring about certain parts of humanity. This is a formulaic police procedural “two-hander” (I know some industry lingo, impressed?) with the devil as one of the cops. It’s basically Castle/Bones/The Mentalist/Every Other Show Like That, but this one is with Satan.
Now, as it goes, that sounds stupid, right? And even as I wrote it, I got how ridiculous it sounded. Beyond that I typically dislike the formula styles for most network shows.
But I liked this show; at least the pilot. The cleverness of the script to play off divinely directed colloquialisms and clichés was extremely enjoyable especially delivered by the (really, excuse this awful writing but) devilishly charming Tom Ellis who carries this show with an ease and wit that makes him immediately captivating. He is the devil, not a grotesque hooved and horned monster that medieval tradition passed down, but the smooth and coy tempter. And the rest of the cast are little more than throwaways next to him except for Rachel Harris who is always wonderful and delivered some great moments of humor. But the show is Tom Ellis’ and he commands attention when on the screen. It’s rare that I could ever say one character because of an actor makes an entire show worth giving a shot, but I think you should give this show a try because of Tom Ellis’ Lucifer.
The Bottom Line:
So should you give this show a chance? I think it’s worth it just to witness a brilliant performance. If you aren’t interested in that and always point out tired tropes and pick-apart plot-holes (which there are absolutely plenty of both) then go ahead and stay away. I’m not sure how long the charm will last for me, but I think the show deserves a good college try. – 6.5/10 (and six of that is just for Tom Ellis)
Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine