Tag Archives: Lucifer

Lucifer: “The Would-Be Prince of Darkness” shows marked improvement over the last couple weeks

“The Would-Be Prince of Darkness” opens with a profoundly stupid bait and switch, which is so obvious and heavy-handed that I was a little second-hand embarrassed for everyone involved in writing, performing and filming the scene. Even at this early stage of the show, we know that Lucifer isn’t actually encouraging a young woman to commit suicide. It’s not funny, there’s no real suspense, and it’s drawn out for several seconds longer than it ought to have been, even if I could agree that this little prologue should exist at all. Frankly, the whole thing is a little creepy, as Lucifer sounds very serious about getting this girl to jump into a pool at a party.

Which is, I think the biggest problem this show has in general—a tendency to take itself entirely too seriously without actually having anything substantive to say for itself. At some point Lucifer has to start just owning its absurd premise and either really having fun with it or using it to explore some deeper and more compelling ideas. The good news, however, is that although this newest episode starts off on a sour note, it does show some signs of moving in the right direction.

A largely forgettable case of the week is mostly made up for by Lucifer’s own investigation of a man who has been using Lucifer’s name to get laid. Lucifer’s decision to not actually punish the guy is telling, and it’s interesting to see him talk about it with his therapist after the fact. Lucifer’s sessions with Dr. Martin are a bit better integrated this week than they have been, although I’d like to see these scenes be a little less full of explanation. They would work better as a complement to well-developed ideas throughout the episode instead of sounding like an 8th grade report on the episode’s themes put into dialogue.

Much more than the previous episodes, this one felt like it was really about Lucifer, with all the rest of the show’s characters properly put into their places as characters in Lucifer’s story. Chloe seems to be coming closer to an epiphany about Lucifer’s true identity, and her ex seems to be finding his place in the show. Maze seemed to be making up for Amenadiel’s absence this week by being more unpleasant than usual, but it worked for the episode, even if she doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on Lucifer. Tom Ellis is still carrying the show, but that’s starting to feel less strained, and hopefully things will continue to get better.

It’s nice to see that Lucifer is improving, even if it’s not exactly doing so in leaps and bounds. “The Would-Be Prince of Darkness” definitely works marginally better than either of the show’s first two episodes, though, even if it doesn’t manage to elevate itself to anything truly deserving the descriptor “good.”

 

Lucifer: Still with the good looks and charm, but this show desperately needs substance

I really, really want to like this show. It’s got quite a few things going for it that I actually do like, if I look at them in isolation. Unfortunately, none of those things are working that well together yet.

Tom Ellis continues to shine in the titular role. He’s absurdly good-looking and quite funny, with an excellent sense of both comedic and dramatic timing. It’s an interesting balancing act he’s got to maintain, trying to create Lucifer as both the jaded, misanthropic ex-Lord of Hell and a compellingly human character that the audience can care about. This second episode finds him managing this with mixed success. There’s an excellent opening scene where Lucifer takes down an unscrupulous street preacher, and there’s a scene where he’s learning more about Chloe’s history that is nice. But then there’s also stuff like his interaction with Trixie Decker, which only retreads ground that was already covered in the pilot and which wasn’t very funny then, either.

Lauren German does the best she can with the shoddy-to-fair material she’s granted as Detective Chloe Decker. If her interest in Lucifer was prurient, that might make more sense than what’s going on here. I could understand why a beautiful, hot-blooded woman would want to bang this guy, but Chloe’s desire to explain the inexplicable things she’s seen would be much more believable if Lucifer wasn’t literally telling her exactly what’s going on all the time. Frankly, it makes her seem a little slow, especially when combined with her apparent complete lack of professionalism or adherence to police procedures. Her best scene this episode actually comes at the end and has nothing to do with Lucifer or the case of the week. Instead, it’s when she decides that she’s going to tell her daughter about her teen movie past—only to find out that Trixie already knows. It’s a sweet moment, and a cute reminder that kids are often smarter and better than people give them credit for.

The dynamic I was most interested to see this week was also the biggest letdown. I love the idea of Lucifer having a therapist, but the episode didn’t spend much time on his sessions. Both of the scenes with Dr. Martin felt rushed and inconsequential, and neither of them added much to the story or Lucifer’s character arc (such as it is). Similarly dull are Lucifer’s relationships with Amenadiel, who is little more than a laconic wet blanket so far, and Mazikeen, who is still sadly under-baked while also being kind of weirdly invested in Lucifer’s being evil. It could be that the show is simply ramping up its more supernatural plots instead of just throwing us into them, but so far none of this stuff has really grabbed me.

The biggest problem I have with the show so far is that it’s wildly entertaining, but not much else. It’s got slick production values, decent actors, a devilishly handsome lead, and good pacing, but there’s not a whole lot going on under the surface so far. It’s a concept that could lend itself well for exploring all kinds of interesting themes and ideas, but instead it wastes time joking about how big Lucifer’s dick is and leering about Chloe’s nude scene in a movie from fifteen years before the show even starts. The ending of this episode does hint at some deeper things going on, and it could be that we’re going to really get more substance going forward, but something needs to happen quick. As I said about the pilot, good looks and charm will only take this show so far. At some point it needs to have something to actually say.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • “King of Pain” is a little on the nose.
  • Lucifer, to an apple: “Hello, old friend.”
  • Lucifer, when he sees Chloe’s home: “Do you take bribes?”
  • Chloe’s ex, Dan, was surprisingly decent this week. I like when exes are friendly with each other like this. It’s much more interesting to me than when they just hate each other.
  • Trixie, about the dvd: “This isn’t even in HD.”

Lucifer: Are charm and good looks enough to make this watchable? (Meh. Maybe?)

I’m honestly a little surprised that this show even got made, much less on Fox, and I have to admit that I’m very concerned about that network’s commitment to the project, which has apparently faced some opposition from concerned religious people with no sense of humor. Lucifer’s original start date was pushed back several months, and promotion for it has been nearly non-existent, which I heavily suspect does not bode well for the continued existence of the series. While this doesn’t quite fit Fox’s usual pattern of self-sabotaging their own shows, it’s not encouraging. All I’m saying is let’s not get too attached to it.

That said, the pilot was a mostly fun piece of television. Not good, mind you, but fun and with no deficit of charm, mostly because of the devil himself, played by Tom Ellis, who is really, really, ridiculously good-looking and seems to be playing this role with exactly the level of seriousness it deserves—not much. Unfortunately, the star’s charisma and absurd handsomeness are not going to be enough to carry this highly flawed series long term without the rest of the show stepping up its game.

What I’m mostly concerned with here, however, is the sexism on display in this first episode. It’s primarily targeted toward lady cop Chloe Dancer (Lauren German) and mostly played for laughs.

Chloe is a detective, following in the footsteps of her father, who was also an officer. She’s also divorced and a mother of one of the most adorable children I’ve seen on television in ages. However, a huge running joke throughout this episode is that lots of people (well, men, anyway) recognize her but can’t quite place her. Because—get this—she was an actress as a teenager, and she did a nude scene in a movie that is compared to Fast Times at Ridgemont High (a reference that almost no one under the age of thirty will even get). That’s it. That’s the whole joke. That a bunch of dudes recognize her because they’ve seen her boobs.

It’s suggested early on that maybe she’s a woman that Lucifer has had sex with and doesn’t remember, and then it’s implied that maybe she was a porn actress. It’s as if we’re supposed to feel relieved to find out that she isn’t actually a slut or a sex worker—she only committed a youthful indiscretion that has, you know, continued to affect her life as people shame and mock her for it, apparently just straight to her face. It’s also made clear that her actress past has made it difficult for her to progress in her chosen career and contributed to her marginalization on the police force. Obviously, this is hilarious. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Also, all women secretly want to bang Lucifer. And there’s a gold-digging woman marrying the episode’s murderer guy for his money. And every single woman in the show so far looks like a model (I know it’s L.A. but still). Perhaps the crowning moment of grossness in the episode, however, is when Lucifer, an adult man, tells a seven-year-old that her name—Trixie, short (adorably so) for Beatrice—is “a hooker’s name.” I get that he’s the actual devil, but yuck. Again, we’re supposed to laugh at how very, very funny and edgy this is. Ha.

Listen, Lucifer isn’t the worst, and I have actually read that the Chloe nude acting history stuff got scrapped between the pilot and being ordered to series, so I will be giving it another chance or two over the next few weeks. However, it’s not great. The concept could be interesting, but it seems a little too close to other odd couple police procedural shows. Lucifer is way too powerful for crime fighting to be anything like a challenge for him, so I don’t see how that’s going to be very interesting. The pilot has some laughs, when it’s not just mocking the female lead for showing her tits one time or making fun of a child’s cute nickname, and it’s got an interesting premise and a slightly silly and manic energy that I found endearing, but it remains to be seen if this will develop into a show worth coming back to watch every week. With several other genre shows airing on the same night, competition seems stiff, but we’ll see.