“What if the devil decided to quit. . . and moved to the City of Angels?” is the tagline for Fox’s new show Lucifer, premiering January 25 on Fox. It’s 2015 and Lucifer (Tom Ellis) has come to L.A. for a vacation that he hopes will last the rest of eternity. The same eternity that God meant him to spend ruling over Hell.
Instead, the sassy devil has pulled a runner, opting to own a nightclub and enjoy a few human delights. He takes immense pleasure in drawing confessions of desire out of the humans he runs into and then helping them abuse those feelings into manifestations of power and corruption.
Not even a minute into the episode, Lucifer has managed to bribe a police officer to get out of a speeding ticket. He loves getting people to do precisely what they’re not supposed to. I’d be perfectly content to watch a show purely about Lucifer playing around with paltry human lives, but the show takes a turn when a friend of his is murdered, forcing Lucifer’s old habits come back with a vengeance.
The devil’s job in Hell is to punish those who have earned an eternity of torment. Lucifer’s natural affinity for restitution has grown restless without a never-ending queue of the damned to oversee. So, he becomes hell-bent on bringing his friend’s murderer to justice and punishment.
He meets the detective in charge of the investigation, Chloe Dancer (Lauren German), and rather stubbornly forces her to accept his help, given certain “charms” that he thinks will aid the investigation. He’s referring to his aforementioned ability to persuade people to reveal their hidden desires to him. All the while, Dancer thinks he’s crazy for believing himself to be the actual devil from Hell.
In typical fashion, Dancer appears to be the only human immune to his powers, and she conveniently has no current relationship. It doesn’t take a detective to see the romantic subplot coming.
Aside from that, Ellis plays the part of Lucifer flawlessly. It’s based on the comic Lucifer by Mike Carey, but only in the loosest of senses. The comic book purists may hate that the cop procedural storyline seems to have chewed up and spit Lucifer out, but it’s still a very watchable show.
The show is clever, well-written, and it explores the question of morality in a playful way. This is clearly seen, for instance, when Amenadiel, an angel sent from God, appears to persuade Lucifer to go back where he belongs, to maintain the balance of good and evil. At the end of the pilot, it’s looking like a war between the forces of Heaven and Hell wouldn’t be a misguided prediction. Epic war of angels? Sign me up.
The show has already sparked controversy from AFA’s One Million Moms, who’ve petitioned Fox not to air such a show. They think a show which humanizes the devil as a compassionate, likeable, caring entity will cause children to worship Satan.
They’re not completely accurate. Yeah, Lucifer’s the main character, but that doesn’t make him likeable. He’s sassy and witty, a maybe a tad obsessed with torturing evil-doers, but I wouldn’t be friends with the guy.
Well, maybe I would. He does have a certain magnetism that draws the audience in, but it’s also abundantly clear that he’s not a good guy. A character both massively entertaining and intriguing, Ellis delivers the Lucifer bad-boy persona flawlessly.
Even if you don’t like it at first, there’s still a very good chance you’ll soon enjoy Lucifer as a guilty pleasure. It’s just that enticing.