Hit or Sh**: FOX’s LUCIFER
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
Loosely based on a supporting character from Neil Gaiman’s excellent comic book series THE SANDMAN, LUCIFER is the rare FOX show that actually possesses a general premise with potential and merit. The overarching tension between Lucifer and his brother Amenadiel in regards to Lucifer returning to Hell is intriguing and bespeaks of a rich world of story with religious themes that could even develop into something mature. Unfortunately, that’s about all the pilot has going for it. Unless the audience member simply cannot resist Tom Ellis’ British accent, they will find the dialogue horrific, the narrative thread arbitrary, and the actual plot boring as all Hell.
Although this can easily lend itself to the cover of the next Atreyu album
Apparently able to just up and leave his post as the ruler of Hell whenever he so pleases, Lucifer Morningstar is on vacation in the City of Angels, subtly accentuated by the opening shot of him speeding around downtown listening to Cage the Elephant’s “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.” After demonstrating his mind control powers on a hapless police officer, Lucifer mosies on over to the nightclub he owns (because what a better time to invest in small business than on vacation) for no apparent reason other than to have his bartender deliver the priceless line: “Now Lucifer, I’m a big fan of sex, but I didn’t leave Hell to be bartender.” Getting his fill of that engaging conversation, Lucifer just happens to meet up with Delilah, who gets killed in a drive-by shooting, kicking off the main conflict despite not having justified itself as an inciting incident that we should invest in.
Truthfully, the Illuminati conspiracy theories surrounding the show are infinitely more entertaining
The rest of the pilot consists of Lucifer teaming up with a begrudging police officer to discover who killed Delilah, as apparently Lucifer feels guilty about his involvement with her singing career. This would be a perfectly fine motivation if Lucifer ever showed even the slightest hint of guilt or remorse, as opposed to just directly telling Lauren German’s Chloe Decker the same. As such, we can hardly be expected to stay interested in the various scenes wherein Chloe and Lucifer attempt to track down the various men that might have had a hand in her demise, as things limply float along from the pad of a famous rapper (only memorable for Lucifer getting the opportunity to deliver a tirade against hip hop music), to the wedding of Delilah’s producer, to the set of an action film, each as uninspired as the last. Equally as uninspired are Lucifer’s powers; considering that he’s the lord of Hell, it’s hugely disappointing that all we’re exposed to are his Jedi Mind Trick powers (self-referentially mentioned, of course) and some morphs where his eyes turn into semi-rotten Maraschino cherries.
To the show’s credit, it actually manages to set up an adequately entertaining dynamic between Lucifer and Chloe, as both characters are at least marginally witty and can own a verbal pissing contest. When conflict that’s earned is actually presented, scenes manage to rise above the mire of mediocrity. The highlight of the pilot occurs when Chloe, Lucifer, Chloe’s ex-husband, and Chloe’s daughter all wind up at the school of the latter to engage in some banter. Unfortunately, this is the single takeaway from the pilot and constitutes an almost entirely extraneous “character development” segment that lasts just over five minutes. Regardless, despite their constant grating against each other, the pilot lobs innumerable softballs that will lead to the pair reaching home base. The most interesting aspect of the pair’s interaction is the fact that Chloe can resist Lucifer’s seduction powers, but this is never engaged with other than Lucifer constantly expressing disbelief at the fact.
The cavalry comes home with a surprise return by Amenadiel, but at that point audiences will have been soured. It’s a damn shame too, because a wisecracking devil is something that virtually every writer has aspired to incorporate into their work. Whereas he acted as a delicious chocolate sprinkle in the source material he originally emerged from, there’s only so much “sexually satisfying Brit” that I can take before it grows recyclable. Topped off with corny animation (the Hellion coin Lucifer occasionally plays with is eyeroll-inducing), on-the-nose narrative elements and dialogue, and a specific conflict that is as trite as they come, LUCIFER will only impress the most ardent FOX apologists.
LUCIFER airs on Mondays on FOX