Lucifer “Pilot” Review (Season 1 Episode 1)

Lucifer FOX 8

I’m having some serious déjà vu after watching the Lucifer pilot, you guys. It’s like I’m back in the fall of 2014, watching the Constantine premiere all over again. That’s not to say the two shows are identical, but there are enough major similarities that I can’t help but bring them up. After all, both are adaptations of classic Vertigo comics that deal heavily in the supernatural, and both have ridiculously likable, charismatic actors in the lead roles. Heck, both shows even have an angel character hanging around to torment the hero. And hey, I enjoyed Constantine, so the similarities aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

Unfortunately, that similarity applies in some negative ways, too. Much like Constantine in the early half of its single season, all Lucifer really has going for it is a wonderfully-cast leading man. Whatever problems the show around him has, Tom Ellis makes for an instantly-engaging take on the Fallen One. Like Matt Ryan’s Constantine, Ellis somehow takes what could be a bunch of unlikable character traits and turns them into a winning persona. Lucifer definitely knows he’s immortal, but he doesn’t use that knowledge, or his influence over humanity, as an excuse to act smug and superior. Instead, he just treats it as an inescapable part of his personality, an excuse to live life without a care and have the most fun.

Outside of Lucifer himself, though, there’s just very little worth commenting on. Nobody else in the cast pops in the same way Lucifer does yet. In a way, it’s a forgivable aspect of the pilot, as the title character really should be the star of the first episode. Still, there’s not really anyone I’m excited to get to know more about; the detective characters fill the roles they need to and little else, while the supernatural characters barely appear at all. At the very least, Lauren German’s Chloe has more life to her than a lot of the stern female detective partners that populate the procedural landscape.

However, that brings us to the bigger flaw of Lucifer, which is just how hard it leans on the procedural elements that have been grafted onto the story. Yes, it’s obviously possible to take a comic book concept and twist it into a procedural successfully; iZombie is one of the best shows on television at the moment, managing to capture a lot of the comic’s spirit while still offering up case-of-the-week stories. However, it’s an even bigger stretch with Lucifer, which in the original comic series had the tendency to shift into large, cosmic-scale events more often than not. Plus, the pilot puts a huge emphasis on that case-of-the-week structure, with references to a larger mythology only popping up early on to set-up the character.

It’s certainly a tricky balance to maintain, and I get that this pilot needs to do all it can to draw in a large audience. My bigger concern is whether those larger-than-life stories are even on the showrunner’s mind. Either way, my main hope would be that the show is able to incorporate a bit more of the fantastic into its week-to-week proceedings. For now, though, there’s enough to like in Ellis’ performance to give the show a few more viewings as it attempts to find itself.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments!