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[TV Review] ‘Lucifer’ Episode 1.01 – “Pilot”

Last year we had a Vertigo (a DC Comics imprint) comic go to series on NBC and only last one season.  “Constantine“, based on the “Hellblazer” comics, had a number of problems, but fans liked it enough to mourn its passing and petition its return.  This year another Vertigo comic has made the jump to television, this time on Fox.  “Lucifer“, based on the comics series by the same name (itself a spin-off of “The Sandman“), sees the King of Hell abdicating his thrown for retirement on Earth.

Now running a nightclub, he has seemingly become bored with wanton sex and fun.  He’s having existential crisis and finding himself beginning to care about humanity.  At least a few people, anyway.  So where is all of this taking place?  Los Angeles, of course.  Where else would the Devil set up his retirement home than in the City of Angels?

The issue with “Constantine” was that it took an excellent character, great source material, and a charming lead and slapped them into a cookie cutter formula that was already overdone.  “Lucifer“, unfortunately, has the exact same issues.  Whereas Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) having a crisis of “faith” (or lack thereof) should be the main plot in such a series, it appears as though it will take a backseat to the standard procedural detective plot that still accounts for a ridiculous amount of television these days.

If you can twist the procedural element in an interesting way, such a series can find a new niche to film in the television landscape.  Problem is, there’s nothing new about a cop having a partner with an odd skillset…even if its of supernatural origin.  It’s been done to death, so as a result, this series will live and die on its characters and performances.  Luckily, both Ellis and actress Lauren German, who plays Detective Chloe Decker, seem to have a good chemistry.  If the writers can keep things interesting week to week, it stands a chance of lasting at least a few years.

I’d love to believe that formula will get looser and the stories riskier as the series goes on, but my gut tells me that is unlikely.  Still, “Gotham” (also on Fox) started out similarly last year and then bloomed into a madcap show that has since completely broken away from its early formula.  Perhaps this one can do the same?  Unfortunately for now, it’s simply another paint-by-numbers cop procedural where the detective’s partner just happens to be Satan himself.

Apologies for the lateness of this review, by the way.  Due to the east coast snowstorm and its aftermath, I’ve been experiencing issues with my TV service.  I’m sure some of you have as well.  As a result, most of my usual reviews will be running late this week.

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