REVIEW: Lucifer pilot makes absolutely no sense
Please be aware this review contains spoilers for the first episode of Lucifer, available now exclusively on Amazon Prime.
If there ever were a prize for craziest television concept, Lucifer would be a strong contender for the throne. The Devil probably wouldn’t want all that power though, because in all new crime drama Lucifer Satan has said goodbye to reigning over Hell and now runs a nightclub in LA. The much-discussed first episode of Lucifer finally premiered last night on FOX in the US, and today on Amazon Prime Video in the UK, to some muted applause and general bewilderment.
We’ll start with the good. Tom Ellis, best known as the hunky Gary on BBC sitcom Miranda, plays an awfully suave Lord of Hell and just about makes the excessively charming dialogue work. Lucifer is – as one might imagine – a man who champions sin and doesn’t really give a toss that he’s ditched his job in Hell to hang out with the mortals for a bit. His dialogue is mostly amusing, and delivered in a way that’s supposed to get us ladies hot under the collar. Oddly enough, however, he works best in a scene that showcases his discomfort around children. Ellis’ charisma is pushed to the limits by the script, but it just about works for the first half hour or so. After that point, one begins to get sick of his silky tones and the fact Lucifer Morningstar never seems to stop talking.
The character of Lucifer has a superpower, of course, this being a DC Comics and Neil Gaiman adaptation: the Lord of Hell can make the majority of people confess to their “inner [usually sinful] desires”. This makes him ideal for solving crimes, if he so chooses to. In the pilot, Lucifer becomes obsessed with finding the killer of a singer who is brutally murdered in his arms outside his club, and much of the commencing story is a wild goose chase until they miraculously stumble upon the real perpetrator of the crime without any real build-up.
The concept is stupid, and a charismatic lead actor is never enough to make you forget it at any point during the 44-minute pilot. The supernatural elements are laughable and ought to be put out of their misery altogether. We meet the angel Amenadiel, who is trying to convince Lucifer to be a good boy and return to work, but we can’t really take him seriously because of the ridiculous black wings he sports publicly in the centre of LA. There’s also a moment where Lucifer begins to torture the killer and we see his real, monstrous face in the glass – but it’s all a bit weird and farcical. Oh, and he frightens a little girl with some D-list horror movie Devil eyes. It’s like this show doesn’t know whether it will focus on the supernatural element or the crime procedural, so we get a half-assed sprinkling of both.
The sheer implausibility of nobody paying any attention to the fact Lucifer walks around loudly – and frequently – discussing his immortality and his Father in heaven, surviving mass shootouts, and dangling people off roofs is hard to swallow for the sake of television. How can the actions of this character signal longevity for the series? I suspect – or rather, hope – the far-fetched behaviour of Lucifer will be addressed in a future episode.
As a feminist, I couldn’t help noticing some interesting issues with consent. We are supposed to believe that most women find Lucifer so attractive they would instantly drop their knickers in his presence – and that’s consensual – but later Lucifer refers to his little superpower as mind “tricks”. If women – and probably men too in later episodes – are not thinking as they usually would when confronted by Lucifer, are they consenting adults? Lucifer walks a thin line. Not to mention how interesting it was to see that even with the multitudes of people and diversity of Los Angeles (and Hell), it was the Devil and a random butler who were played as English.
I am told the source material for Lucifer is rather good. I sincerely hope this is the case, for the legions of comic fans who follow it. The pilot episode however is a story which is not sure what genre it prioritises – supernatural drama or police procedural – and it suffers for the lack of definition. The ludicrous concept isn’t going to work unless producers honestly commit to it, which they don’t seem willing to do, so I suggest police procedural is the way forward. That said, I would hope for more layered, complex crime cases if I’m to spend an hour with this specific police procedural over any other in an incredibly over-saturated market. At the moment, Lucifer is a man who makes no effort to hide who he is or his abilities or the fact he is often conversing with other angels and minions of Hell in modern day LA. He makes absolutely no sense, but I guess this plot never did.