What’s the Show? Lucifer
What’s It All About, JG? “Crime fighting devil, it all makes sense, don’t overthink it”. The Devil gets fed up running Hell, feeling it to be a job imposed on him by God, so quits and moves to LA, where he becomes a consultant for the LAPD while running a luxurious night club. Like you do. There he becomes partners with Detective Chloe Decker and ends up in a cop procedural, whereby each week they get a murder case to solve – like any procedural – while the more religious and serialised aspects tick away in the background. Things are complicated by the presence of Dan, Chole’s ex-husband, and the fact that she’s now a single mother. And, you know, her partner’s literally the Devil.
Still, Lucifer pulls a very neat trick by having the character of Lucifer be absolutely honest about who and what he is 100% of the time, only to have most people simply dismiss it as “metaphor”, including his therapist (it’s LA, of course the devil has a therapist. And they’re fucking – well, in Season One anyway). Naturally along the way a few people do find out the truth, and Lucifer eventually falls for Decker, just to mess things up a little further, but can’t actually reveal who he is. We also get to meet Lucifer’s big brother Amenadiel, sent to Earth to persuade Lucifer to return to Hell; Mrs God (yes, literally Mrs God); a kick-ass demon called Mazakeen who’s handy with her hell-forged blades…; oh and Cain, as in “…and Abel”. That’s quite a lot for a police procedural to juggle.
Why Did You Give It A Go? It’s based on Lucifer, the character from Neil Gamien’s The Sandman series of graphic novels and “the Devil leaves Hell” concept is taken from Seasons Of Mist, the fourth Sandman volume. I did my undergraduate dissertation on The Sandman, so there was exactly zero chance that I wasn’t going to watch this.
It It Any Good? It is, in fact, utterly delightful. The first season is a touch shaky, mostly because it takes them a little time to work out how to use Dan’s character to good effect. Playing him as a threat / corrupt cop never landed, but the moment he’s shifted into comedy-sidekick mode (“Detective Douche”) the character just works, and informs rather than works against the series. While there’s much to enjoy in the first season, from Season Two onwards, Lucifer fully embraces its own ludicrousness and it is glorious. Like Legends Of Tomorrow or post-Season Two Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.Lucifer works out how to use its absolutely batshit crazy premise to its advantage and completely leans into it, producing a show which manages by turns to be funny, heartfelt, witty, genre-savvy without just being fourth-wall-breaking, and strikes the near-impossibe task of balancing all those angles against a perfectly judged cast. “The Devil Takes Part In A Cop Procedural” isn’t, it’s fair to say, an obvious premise for a show, but Lucifer makes it work so, so much better than it has any right to.
A big chunk of that comes down to the cast, and Tom Ellis – not exactly a known name prior to the role – is perfectly cast as the title character, able to go screamingly over the top yet remain balanced, and absolutely packed to the gunnels with charisma and screen presence. His casting is a stroke of genius and absolutely key to the whole show working, but there’s not a bad performance among the regulars, and the incredibly likeable cast really lend credibility to the insanity that surrounds them. Special praise should go to Lesley-Ann Brandt as Mazakeen, who’s nothing short of awesome, and Rachel Harris as Linda, the therapist – her role isn’t the largest of the regulars, but she invests so much into it that it just comes to life in so many unexpected, fun ways. The last two seasons add Tricia Helfer to the cast, firstly as the aforementioned Mrs God, then as a lawyer, and her role ends up being the unexpected emotional pivot to what ended up being the end of the show, since it got unexpectedly cancelled. Ah but wait! With a burst of suitably religious imagery the show has been resurrected from cancellation hell, rather delightfully. So the gang will be back for a forth season on Netflix, and I couldn’t be happier about it. In case it’s not clear, I adore this show.
How Many Episodes Did You Watch? All of them, and that’s not going to change any time soon. In truth, Lucifer is utterly ridiculous and it’s definitely not a for-everyone type of proposition, but it’s that ridiculousness that just makes it all so much damned fun. Like any procedural not every single episode lands, but Lucifer is able to mine surprisingly poignancy and depth from its very silly premise, and is able to juggle the procedural elements with the more serialised ones with remarkable grace.
Would You Recommend It? Unreservedly. It’s an utterly stupid show, and obviously the idea of the Devil helping to solve crimes in LA makes absolutely no fucking sense at all, but that’s also what makes it so great. Of course it doesn’t make sense! And yet… it also sort of does. Lucifer explicitly states that his function in hell was to punish the guilty, and so helping to catch them in the first place is simply a logical extension of that – help catch the guilty to give them what they deserve. When phrased that way, there is a sort of logic to Lucifer helping to catch the very people he knows will end up heading Down Below anyway. The show is able to take that basic idea – that the capturing and punishing of bad guys are part and parcel of the same process – and thread it through the show’s premise so it actually resonates and works. It’s another one of those balancing acts that Lucifer pulls off so well. This is a fun show, with an absolutely perfectly-chosen cast, and it just knows how to get all these elements to synch up perfectly. I love it, and I’m incredibly happy that there’s going to be more of it.
Scores On The Doors? 7.5 / 10