Monday, January 25, 2016

On The Air: Lucifer (2016)

"Oh, what fools these mortals be....."---William Shakespeare, MacBeth.

Even the Devil gets bored.

British author Neil Gaiman postulated a scenario in which Lucifer would leave Hell for Earth, just because he was bored with the underworld. DC's Vertigo division spun Lucifer off from Gaiman's seminal The Sandman some years back, and it had a pretty good run. About a year and a half ago, Warner Bros. and producer Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its family of shows) agreed to adapt the book into a TV show. To ensure that there would be a fan base ready and waiting, DC relaunched Lucifer in its Vertigo line last month. Now, despite an online petition from the conservative One Million Moms, Lucifer is on the air.

That, at least, is good news, adding one more comic book series to the television schedule, and Vertigo has one more on the way, as AMC is adapting Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon's Preacher, due later this year, to go along with Lucifer and the CW's iZombie.

The bad news, though, is that Fox has had a checkered history with genre programming. I had a discussion on this subject with a friend the other day. Seems that while one division of the network buys genre programs, such as the newly revived X-Files, Sleepy Hollow, & Lucifer, the programming department seems to be more interested in sabotaging those buys. Hollow, for example, moved to Thursdays this season (its 3rd) to make room for first Minority Report, which wrapped a few weeks ago, and now, Lucifer, both of which have been scheduled opposite CBS' 2nd year series, Scorpion.

On to Lucifer.

Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis, ex-EastEnders) now owns a nightclub in Los Angeles, but doesn't have a complete understanding of the human condition. In the opener, he reconnects with a former chanteuse (guest star AnnaLynne McCord), who is promptly killed in a drive-by shooting. The shooter is, in turn, killed in an auto accident with an 18 wheeler.

It is here where the show turns. Lucifer's curiosity prompts him to join forces with a female homicide detective assigned to the case, who, in turn, has issues of her own, particularly her ex-husband, who's also on the force. Since when, you think, did the Devil decide he wanted to be a hero?

In reality, it's a variation on a trope that has been used in comic books and on television in the past. Fox, in fact, had a 1 year series a few years back, Brimstone, whose premise had a cop sending criminals down to Hell. It had been done in the comics dating back as far as the 70's, as I can recall. Atlas Comics' Grim Ghost told the tale of a Colonial era highwayman sent back to the mortal plane in the then-present to send criminals down to Hades. The book was briefly revived a few years ago with little success. Currently, Archie Comics' Dark Circle division revived an old Golden Age hero, The Hangman, and borrowed the concept of Grim Ghost. Well, at least that's the direction I think they're taking. It just happens to be a bit of a coincidence that the personification of the Devil in that book bears a slight resemblance to Tom Ellis. Hangman #2 arrived in stores 5 days before the launch of Lucifer, so draw your own conclusions.

Right now, let's scope out a trailer:

Ellis tries playing Lucifer as a wiseacre who's succumbing to the mortal desires of the flesh, a little at a time. Something tells me that, given Fox's history with genre programming, it will be nothing short of a miracle if Lucifer is brought back for a 2nd season. Bear in mind, by the end of next month, it'll be paired with Gotham. Comics geeks will be overloading their DVR's for weeks to come.

Rating: B--.

No comments: