Comic Con 2015 TV Pilot Review: Lucifer
REVIEW: Stop me if you've heard this one before: A by-the-book cop is paired up, mostly against their will, with an incorrigible partner, and together they'll have to solve crimes before A) Killing each other or - if they're of the opposite sex - B) Sleeping with each other. (Sometimes it's all of the above.) It's a tried and true plot, yes, and it can be seen played out in several TV shows during any given season, and while it may not always be fresh, it's the kind of scenario that usually works when the actors are well-paired and the writing is just sharp enough. I say "usually" because the pilot of Lucifer pairs two very attractive actors together for the purposes of watching just how far their charisma can take them without actually giving them anything interesting to do. It's a shame, because both actors are indeed likable, but based on the first episode of Lucifer, the show has no plans on giving us something we haven't seen a hundred times before, despite the promise of its central premise.
Inspired by the DC Comic character of the same name (who, of course, was inspired by an even more famous fellow with the same name), the character of Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) has evidently washed his hands of ruling the underworld and decided to open up a garish nightclub in L.A. Lucifer, as we meet him, is carefree and mischievous; packing a very British charm coupled with a naughty (but unquestionably PG-13) humor, he's a handsome playboy without a worry in the world. Yes, he's threatened a few times by an angel (D.B. Woodside) who beckons him to return to the underworld at the behest of their "father", but otherwise things are going quite swell for the suave prince of darkness.
That is until a murder shakes him out of his fantasy world: A famed singer named Delilah - who Lucifer helped connect with some in-demand producers - is gunned down in front of his club. Lucifer is surprisingly sympathetic to the singer's demise and takes it upon himself to catch the person responsible. That doesn't sit well with beautiful detective Chloe Dancer (Lauren German), a former actress with marriage problems who is assigned the case. Lucifer, scamp that he is, latches on to Chloe and ingratiates himself into her investigation, which involves checking out both a shady rapper and the singer's ex-fiance. Naturally, it doesn't hurt that Lucifer has the power to make people confess their deepest, darkest secrets at any given moment - although that trick doesn't work with Chloe since she's not exactly taken with him. Let's see how long that lasts.
Directed by Len Wiseman (Sleepy Hollow), the Lucifer pilot presents just another procedural in which two mismatched partners share vague sexual tension while one acts in a cheeky, ribald way and the other rolls their eyes and tries to get down to business. Naturally, the former will always end up being the smarter or more capable one, despite their seemingly irrepressible quirkiness. While it's early yet, it would appear as though Lucifer is prepared to fall into a pattern where Lucifer and Chloe battle outside evil while struggling to contain their sexual tension. He goads her with innuendo, she shuts him down smirkingly, as if to say, "Maybe one day..." Boy oh boy, even though these two are from different worlds, I could actually picture them being together! Again, stop me if you heard this one.
As played by Tom Ellis, Lucifer is a light-hearted - and sometimes insufferable - prick with a soft side for fallen angels (of the human variety) and sweet young children. There's not much danger to the character. He says and does a handful of things that could be considered improper, but there is nothing at all genuinely sinister or evil about him. I get that he's our protagonist and we're meant to love his peculiar ways, but couldn't they have given him the slightest edge? He's the devil, for the love of God, and in an age where anti-heroes rule the small screen, it's odd to see how timid this portrayal of the Prince of Darkness is. Lauren German's Chloe is actually the more intriguing character, although she's not handed much in the way of fascinating subtext to chew on. (Her biggest issue is that she's recognized for a topless scene in a cheesy B-movie from years back.) Both actors have considerable screen presence but neither are able to fully make their characters anything other than one-dimensional: He's a funny jerk, she's his straight-laced - but not prudish - galpal. The end.
I suppose there is room for Lucifer to grow; it's unfair to judge the show's potential based on just the first episode. But this is TV land, where first impressions are crucial and the landscape is always changing in bigger, darker ways. For all his notoriety, Lucifer has a lot to prove in this playground, and so far he doesn't seem up to tussling with the tough kids.