The sci-fi/fantasy genre has slowly become a crowded field on television. Typically though, networks will each feature one, tentpole series to present to the rest of the world as a sort of “look we can do it too!” statement. HBO has Game of Thrones. AMC has The Walking Dead. NBC has (or really had) Heroes and Heroes Reborn. The CW has The 100. The list goes on and on across every major network. Over at FOX, Sleepy Hollow has held down that honor … that is, until the show killed off one of its leads after a season that already made some questionable storytelling decision. That’s left the door wide open for Lucifer, and the freshman series has taken full advantage.
Lucifer is loosely based on a character pulled from Neil Gaiman’s iconic Sandman comics, with an emphasis on “loosely.” The general story follows Lucifer Morningstar (aka the Devil), as he escapes from Hell to live the high life on Earth. He meets up with an LAPD detective named Chloe Decker, and the pair begin solving crimes together in a “murderer-of-the-week” procedural. But if Season 1 did one thing, it’s prove that Lucifer is far more than meets the eye (while dethroning the defunct Sleepy Hollow in the process). Here’s exactly how it accomplished all that and more.
1. Tom Ellis
Every TV show is only as good as its lead actor. If the same is true for Lucifer, then it may very well be one of the best show’s on the air today. Tom Ellis is delightful as the quipping, yet tortured Lucifer Morningstar, and his performance is the driving force behind the show. Much in the same way that Tom Mison is the backbone of Sleepy Hollow, Ellis occupies a similar role for his own supernatural series. Simply put, it’s hard to imagine Lucifer working with anyone but him as the titular Devil. His chemistry with fellow lead Lauren German (playing Detective Chloe Decker) only helps matters too.
2. A new twist on an old story
Here we have the biggest parallel between Sleepy Hollow and Lucifer. The former is all about Ichabod Crane in modern-day America solving crimes and fighting supernatural monsters. The latter is the same plot, only with the Devil himself, and it’s made far more impactful by the character’s origins. Lucifer Morningstar is traditionally seen as the embodiment of evil. The version we see on FOX though casts him as a misunderstood (albeit prideful) fallen angel, trying to set the record state about who he really is. It’s not easy taking a biblical narrative and turning it into an entertaining network TV series, and Lucifer accomplishes just that.
3. It never takes itself too seriously
Some of the best moments on Sleepy Hollow are those that acknowledge the need for humor. Recent seasons though have gotten increasingly more dismal, an inherent issue in a show where the world is about to be taken over by demons every season. Lucifer recognizes the necessity of levity, brought on by writing that never feels too weighty or serious. Sure, there are moments where we see the darker side of the Devil, but they’re always punctuated by enough humor to keep the tone balanced. And speaking of that darker side…
4. The serious moments are always earned
While there’s plenty of lighthearted quipping from Ellis, Lucifer never lets us forget who are main character really is. The Devil is nothing close to your average straight-arrow hero. He’s emotional, angry, egotistical, and ultimately self-serving. But there’s also something insanely interesting about seeing Satan’s nature clash with a newfound humanity. He’s no saint and never will be, but he also has enough nuance as a character to feel like a sympathetic lead. This makes the moments where he loses his cool feel earned instead of forced; this is the Devil, suppressing his need to dole out punishment, and that rage is thinly veiled beneath the surface.
Lucifer just wrapped up its first season and is available to stream in full on FOX’s main site.
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