Here’s how it probably happened: at some point during a conversation with a higher-up at Fox, someone said, “But you can’t turn everything into a police procedural.” That statement was taken as a challenge.
This brings us to Lucifer, a supernatural crime drama based on the character created by Neil Gaiman and given his own spinoff comic book series by Mike Carey. The TV show will stick to the roots of the original comic: the Devil gets sick of Hell and abandons his post in favor of running a piano bar in Los Angeles. The TV show will also add the twist of having Lucifer use his demonic powers to help the L.A.P.D. solve crimes.
The first trailer for Lucifer, which stars British actor Tom Ellis in a lead role that Gaiman describes as “a sexy mad bad Dr Who,” has now been released by Fox. The comic book writer also said that he “suspect[s] the show will become a guilty pleasure for a lot of people,” and that seems likely based on this unabashedly cheesy trailer. Still, a guilty pleasure is better than no pleasure at all.
Network television has quite a limited tolerance for ugliness, so Lucifer’s sidekick Maze (Lesley-Ann Brandt) seems to have had the skinless, deformed half of her face traded in for just another normal-looking half, and her characteristic jumbled speech replaced with something that doesn’t need subtitles. Also among the supporting cast is Lauren German, who plays the L.A.P.D. detective that Lucifer partners up with, and Rachael Harris as a therapist called Linda, whom Lucifer meets on a case and later returns to consult.
Lucifer is likely to draw apt comparisons to Constantine, another supernatural Vertigo series that was adapted into a TV series with a quick-witted British protagonist, a mortal woman who grabs his attention, and a weary angel trying to get the snarky Brit to behave. Hopefully Lucifer will fare better than Constantine, which was dropped by NBC after one season and is now being shopped around in the hope of finding it a new home.
The police procedural formula has been done to death, the deviations from the comic are likely to have purists throwing things at their screens in rage, and most of what’s in the five minutes of video above does look kind of terrible. Still, we’re holding out hope that Lucifer could be a nice surprise – or, at the very least, a guilty pleasure.
Lucifer will premiere on Fox in 2016.