Lucifer: Season 1 — a review

Lucifer1

I began watching Lucifer for several reasons. Each reason alone probably wouldn’t have been enough to motivate me to add another series to my already prodigious list. But, the cumulative effect of all the reasons made it impossible for me to continue not watching the show.

Here are the reasons.

One of my co-workers mentioned that she had started watching the series with her daughter, and they both enjoyed it. She mentioned it because she knew I enjoyed all the Marvel superhero shows on Netflix, just as she and her husband did, and she thought Lucifer was in a similar vein. I filed that fact away in my mental storage bank, but made no real plans to do anything with it. You know how it is. So many choices; so little time.

Reason #2: Or, perhaps several reasons rolled into one: I discovered that I was watching a lot—I mean, a whole lot—of entertainment with a huge religious component. There was Preacher, about a man with the Voice of God, who is searching for God, who seems to have gone missing. American Gods is about all of the gods, but Jesus made significant and multiple appearances in the first season. Supernatural introduced angels, and, by association, God, after a couple of seasons, and they quickly took over the series. On Vikings, the monk Aethelstan is kidnapped by the Vikings and wages his own internal war of Christianity vs paganism, and, at one point, he is crucified as an apostate.

Reason #3: Or, perhaps #6: I finally got around to reading Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, a rollicking farce about the Apocalypse. I haven’t watched the Amazon show yet. Knowing me, I probably will at some point.

The final reason was one of convenience and persistent marketing. All of the seasons of Lucifer are available on Netflix, and the company kept insisting that it was the type of show I would like to watch. Netflix had even produced a fourth season after the series was cancelled on network television, which allows the streaming giant to call the show a “Netflix original.” Earlier this month, Netflix renewed Lucifer for a fifth and final season yet-to-be-produced, which will provide the series with a real ending.

I enjoy stories that are allowed to reach their natural conclusions. It’s that completist thing that sometimes causes me heartache. However, this would have been meaningless to me if I found out that I didn’t like the show.

I suppose this isn’t a spoiler by now, but I do like this series. I’m not sure that I love it yet, but I would definitely categorize my feelings for it as “strong like.”

Season 1 is only 13 episodes (just like the Marvel shows), which I think is a perfect number. Not just for the triskaidekaphobic superstitious connection to evil, which I admit would be fitting in a series about the Devil. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve come to prefer television series with shorter seasons because shows with twenty or more episodes in a season seem to flounder from a storytelling aspect, and begin to have too many “filler” episodes. There is little filler in this season.

The premise is a simple one, on the surface. Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) is a successful, devilishly handsome LA nightclub owner who proudly announces to a disbelieving world that, yes, he is that Lucifer, commonly known as Satan or the Devil. He finds himself in an unlikely teamup with a police detective named Chloe Decker (Lauren German), a former actress who seems oddly immune to his charms and with whom Lucifer discovers an instant connection. As this relationship is explored throughout the season, the series becomes one of the oddest police procedurals I’ve ever seen.

Another show this one reminds me of, even though I neglected to add it to the earlier list, is Reaper, which I believe lasted a single season and featured Ray Wise as the Devil. Unless I’m mixing up my supernaturally-themed shows here, which is possible.

For me to get into the fictive dream-story of a series, I have to feel a connection to its characters. I didn’t initially feel this for either Lucifer or Chloe, if I’m being truthful. It took me two or three episodes to warm up to the characters. Probably because both are ridiculously beautiful actors, even when compared to other ridiculously beautiful actors, and sometimes it’s difficult for a schlub like me to relate. But, they grew on me. Lucifer is vain and selfish, qualities you would expect from the Devil, I suppose, but he becomes more human and vulnerable (sometimes literally) as the season progresses. He is intrigued by Chloe because she doesn’t want to hop into his bed like every other woman he meets. She is the Dana Scully of the series. The skeptic. The un-believer. She thinks of Lucifer as more of a stage magician than the Lord of Hell. Even as the season ends, I don’t think she has yet admitted that she believes he’s who he says he is.

Like Tony Soprano before him, Lucifer has an on-going relationship with his therapist, Linda, who is played by Rachael Harris, a terrific actor I realize I have seen maybe a hundred times in other productions over the years. Her character is genuinely funny, and Lucifer’s therapy sessions—Like Tony Soprano’s—allow him to vocalize his thoughts about whatever’s currently happening in his life. Of course, Chloe figures greatly in these exchanges. While Lucifer is never what I would describe as reserved or reticent in any given situation, the therapy scenes give the character a bit more of a formal structure to state his opinions and feelings.

Chloe also has a daughter Trixie (Scarlett Estevez), who is the proper amount of cute and perky. She also likes Lucifer and thinks he’s funny, even though he seems very uncomfortable around children.

And, of course there’s an ex-husband, Det. Dan Espinoza (Kevin Alejandro), whom Lucifer refers to as Detective Douche, and the season’s wild card, Detective Malcolm Graham (Kevin Rankin). On Lucifer’s side of the aisle, we have his brother, the angel Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside), and his demon sidekick/bartender Mazikeen (Leslie-Ann Brandt), known affectionately as Maze.

The season-long story arcs involve these players, all of whom I like (or like to hate). Amenadiel wants Lucifer to return to his job in Hell, and he’s willing to manipulate other characters to that end, including the therapist Linda and the demon Mazikeen. Chloe is trying to solve a backstory mystery that involves Malcolm and her ex. Lucifer is discovering new things about himself. All of these arcs converge in a dynamic, bloody finale in which Lucifer returns to Hell, only to find himself sent back to LA with a new mission.

The episodic stories are pretty standard affairs. Well…if your definition of “standard” includes the occasional use of supernatural abilities. The writers of the show do not make the Moonlighting mistake of making our two main characters romantic partners in this first season, so the sexual tension is maintained. For how long though? We’ll see. Their relationship does seem to develop into a believable friendship, however.

As I said before, I like this series so far, and will continue to watch.

Firewater’s Season 1 Report Card: A-

A-minus

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