Monday night I watched the pilot episode of Lucifer on FOX.
Ever since I read Milton in high school I’ve been sympathetic to Lucifer, the tragic anti-hero of Christian mythology. And I’ve read about half of the Mike Carey/Peter Gross comic book series on which the new television series was ostensibly based.
I say “ostensibly” because, other than some background details, this had little to do with the comic book. Like in the comic book, Lucifer has retired to Earth, leaving Hell to its own devices, and opened a bar in Los Angeles. What the comic book was not was a police procedural, yet the television show has Lucifer Morningstar working with a police detective to solve murders. Weirdly, it reminded me more of NBC’s (late and lamented) Constantine than the Lucifer comic. What this felt like to me was an unrelated concept that bought the rights to the comic to avoid a nuisance copyright lawsuit.
All the individual details snd scenes seemed to work but, as is typical of pilots, it threw a lot at us. Tom Ellis’ Lucifer seemed like a really good David Tennant as the Doctor impression, and he had a nice rapport with Beatrice, the seven-year-old daughter of Lucifer’s LAPD partner. The other roles seemed okay.
I’m not really sure about the long-term plots the pilot introduced. I didn’t feel invested enough in the ex-maggot (ie., the partner’s ex-husband) to care if he were hiding something, and while it’s interesting that Chloe Decker, the partner, can resist Lucifer’s charms I didn’t see the point. And one of God’s lapdogs threatening Lucifer because he retired from Hell felt like an endlessly empty threat.
I guess what bugged me is that the first act introduced a perfectly good storytelling engine — people come to the Lux, Lucifer’s bar, and he does favors for them that they have to repay or face their darkest secrets — and then replaced it with an Elementary wannabe. That can work, and Ellis seems to have the charm to pull it off, but that doesn’t seem as dramatically or psychologically interesting.
For me, this show is going to depend on how anti-heroic Lucifer is portrayed. Spending his time solving murders with the LAPD seems beneath the dignity of the retired Lord of Hell.