The devil has always made for an interesting character, but rarely do we get to see him outside of the bowels of the underworld. “Lucifer” takes the fallen angel out of the inferno and asks what he might do if he retired to Los Angeles, creating a witty and compelling drama.
“I like to punish people, or at least I used to,” are some of the first words that Lucifer, played by Tom Ellis, says, and they sum up his character. Lucifer has decided to retire from his job as ruler of the underworld and spend his days cavorting with models and singers in his high-end nightclub and rubbing shoulders with some of the most powerful men and women in Los Angeles.
This version of Lucifer is basically benevolent, but isn’t above messing with people. One stare is usually enough to get you to spill your deepest desires, and Lucifer regularly exploits this ability to ruin weddings, seduce people or get out of speeding tickets. Every one of these scenes is funny and creative, and they immediately generate sympathy and affection for the title character.
Of course, Lucifer’s not all about having a good time. When a close friend is murdered in a drive-by shooting, he teams up with a no-nonsense detective played by Laura German to hunt down the killer. German’s character is basically the opposite of Lucifer, and his attempts to charm her or use his powers on her fall flat, much to his bewilderment. Although I initially disliked her character, German becomes interesting enough by the end of the pilot, and her serious demeanor provides a great contrast to Lucifer’s shenanigans.
The show’s writers know what the main draw is, and so they never attempt to steer the audience’s attention away from Lucifer. Although watching Lucifer mess with people over and over again might sound like it would get old after a while, that’s not the case. One reason is that the show goes to exotic and interesting locations around Los Angeles, which helps keep Lucifer’s antics fresh.
The acting among the supporting cast, namely those who are being influenced by Lucifer, is extremely well-done and helps to sell Lucifer’s powers. Ellis as Lucifer steals the show whenever he’s on, though. Every word of dialogue that comes out of his mouth is just dripping with temptation and charisma, which only enhances the fun of watching him work.
One area I did not expect the show to go into was religion, but in addition to the murder plot, Lucifer must also contend with the angel Amenadiel, who is tasked with getting Lucifer to return to hell. He’s made out to be a serious threat, but Lucifer mostly just blows him off.
Lucifer even questions whether he’s the ruler of hell because he was born evil or because God, whom Lucifer refers to as “dad,” made him that way. It’s an interesting thought, and definitely one that will be revisited in the show, but credit to the writers for having the guts to bring it up.
Near the end of the pilot, however, all the jokes and light-heartedness fall away, and while I expected the show to suffer without the funny dialogue, I was surprised to see that it did not. Lucifer as an angry, immortal monster is almost more entertaining to watch than when he’s charismatic and funny, and the end of the pilot really sells him as a physical and spiritual force to be reckoned with.
“Lucifer” has all the makings of a great television show. The writing is sharp, the production values are high and the acting is top notch. Anyone who appreciates funny writing or great television owes it to themselves to watch “Lucifer.”
Edward Pankowski is life editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.