The concept in base form is wonderful: the Devil, tired of Hell, decides on a permanent vacation. Taking up home in present-day LA, Lucifer Morningstar, as he unabashedly introduces himself to all, is now a club owner. Resisting efforts from his brother, the angel Amenadiel, to coax him back home, Lucifer is having a ball, free to roam around LA while his sidekick demon Mazikeen runs his affairs.
A rich backstory begging for exploitation, Lucifer’s surrounds ripe for depravity, and yet… The man himself quips to his co-star that, “You don’t seem too bothered about me being the Prince of Darkness.” The writers would share this apathy, it seems; all notions of vice are barely hinted at in favour of a staid crime procedural. As far as Lucifer the series is concerned — this writer has yet to read the DC comic source — Lucifer Morningstar is the Devil in the most vanilla of forms.
He is also paper-thin. Arguably there is character development — Lucifer realises he enjoys seeking justice — but themes of theological, existential woes are given scant regard, as is that most interesting of father-son relationships. A dearth of strong imagery does not plug the gap, the crime scenes Lucifer attends in his new role as homicide investigator disappointingly uncreative; indeed the only solid commitment to the character’s horrific persona is the red glow in his eyes when occasionally choosing to intimidate.
Despite these criticisms, the show holds a certain appeal, largely in Tom Ellis, who plays Lucifer. The actor strains against the boundaries of a shallow narrative to evoke a suave, sexual charm, and delivers his many one-liners with aplomb and excellent timing. The intention for bouncy rapport to further drive this comedic angle is clear, but falls short due to a wooden turn from co-star Lauren German, who plays Detective Chloe Decker. Chemistry between the two does however grow more apparent towards the latter end of the series, while the introduction of a major new character in the final episode implies darker, more fantastical times ahead. The hope is that this first season is warm-up for some deviance the Devil deserves.
D. B. Woodside
17 October 2016