Review: “Lucifer” (Pilot)

I just watched “Lucifer”, the television translation of the Vertigo comic series initiated by Neil Gaiman in his “Sandman” comics. The series builds off a number of things from the comics, then it goes its own way.

I will be following this one: it has possibilities.

In the comics, after he left Hell, Lucifer owned a nightclub, but it was pretty low-key (but hardly low class) and he didn’t go out of his way to promote it, being more involved in more weighty activities. Here the nightclub (“LUX” or “light”, how appropriate) is very trendy and he’s made a lot of friends and contacts and people owe him a lot of favors. But underneath it all, he’s bored. That’s pretty much why he left Hell, and now he’s just as bored at times in Los Angeles. Hence his fascination with Detective Chloe Dancer: she is totally unlike anyone he ever met in Hell, which drew the dregs of humanity. She is someone entirely different, someone virtuous (to the point of that virtue damaging her career) and is therefore immune to his power and charm. That association, the rebel angel and the outcast detective, is the basis of the series.

Positive

Tom Ellis as Lucifer is great: he’s cheeky and funny and a smart-ass without being smarmy. Ellis is obviously having a blast playing the character, and what actor worth his playbills wouldn’t? He makes the show, totally. (I also loved his license plate: “FALLEN1”.)

The writing: there were some really good bits, like the time when Lucifer started talking about “black music” and saying that without the blues there wouldn’t be “the devil’s music” AKA rock&roll.

Undecided

Detective Chloe Dancer (Lauren German). Okay, we know she’s a loner, stemming from a case where she (apparently) broke the Blue Code of Silence and did not follow the official story on a major case. Her ex-husband is trying to get her to play along, to not ask questions, to take the easy way out, but that isn’t her style. She’s an ex-porn star and she has a daughter. Otherwise, she’s pretty blasé. We’ll have to see how she manages to stand having Lucifer as an unofficial partner, and how Lucifer gets to participate in police investigations. (Maybe Lucifer is friends with the Mayor? It worked for Castle.)

Negative

I didn’t like the special effects when he was showing off his powers. The red eyes when confronting the bullying girl or his reflection in the mirror near the end: they both looked like they came from bad Corman movies.

Chloe’s daughter: barely intelligible at times. It took some web searching to finally understand what she was saying when she was explaining what she did in attacking the bullying girl.

Questions

  • What price did Lucifer pay to leave Hell? In the comics, Dream cut off his wings, and he hasn’t manifested them even though Amadiel did, twice.
  • What price did Lucifer pay to save Chloe from death? Arm-wrestling Death? Or maybe Death was Death of the Endless and he sweet-talked her into letting Chloe live?
  • “Why this is Hell, nor am I ever out of it.” Those were the words of Mephistopheles in Faust, stating why he can appear on Earth, but they’re equally apt here. Lucifer may have left Hell, but he may not entirely be free of of it. What would happen if some of the Damned or a bunch of demons started showing up?
  • Which direction will this go? Mundane police investigation a la disparate buddy cop show, or more supernatural occurrences investigations and situations? I’m seeing a mixture of both, with an emphasis on the former.

What I Would Like to See

  • John Constantine walk in the bar and sit down next to Lucifer and Chloe. Lucifer will not be happy, especially if their relationship was anything like what it was in the comics. Chloe will have to remark on their resemblance (not entirely physical, except they both always need a shave, but certainly something metaphysical) especially when they both pull out their lighters and start to light up a cigarette, then both deny her at the same time and using the same words.
  • For that matter, any of the Endless showing up. Death would be one of the options, but my money would be on Desire or Despair. Delirium would be the most interesting, however, tripping through the door (literally!) with Barnabas.
  • Maze (Mazikeen, daughter of Lilith) drop the mask (literally and figuratively) and be seen as the horrifying (literally and figuratively) demon she really is.
  • A throwaway line about the death of Alan Rickman and his portrayal of Metatron in “Dogma”.
  • For that matter, maybe a throwaway recognition to various previous supernatural series involving Satan (“Brimstone”, “Reaper”, “Supernatural”)?
  • Neil Gaiman writing a script for the show.
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