lucifer

Fandom Report: “Lucifer” has its best episode yet–and “Legends of Tomorrow” doesn’t

Remember when I reviewed DC TV shows on a consistent basis?

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DC on TV for the Week of January 30, 2017

 

Villains get along better than heroes, Lucifer makes sacrifices (not to any deity, granted), and Cisco wants to get laid


 

“We Can Be Heroes,” Supergirl, Season 2, Episode 10. Directed by Rebecca Johnson. Written by Caitlin Parrish and Katie Rose Rogers.

“A Good Day to Die,” Lucifer, Season 2, Episode 13. Directed by Alrick Riley. Written by Joe Henderson and Chris Rafferty.

“Dead or Alive,” The Flash, Season 3, Episode 11. Directed by Harry Jierjian. Teleplay by Zack Stentz. Story by Benjamin Raab and Deric A. Hughes.

“The Legion of Doom,” Legends of Tomorrow, Season 2, Episode 10. Directed by Eric Laneuville. Written by Phil Klemmer and Marc Guggenheim.

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Lucifer’s been looking for love in all the wrong places

Lucifer, Season 2, Episode 11, “Stewardess Interruptus.” Directed by Greg Beeman. Written by Sheri Elwood.

Lucifer attracts my attention because it takes a page in a post-Joss Whedon television environment: blending narrative arcs with one-episode stories. Television is flooded with police procedurals, and as cliche as they are, this show sticks with the format, likely being popular with viewers who enjoy such digestible stories, and which are easier to re-air in syndication. And there has to be the necessary spectacle: attractive people by the pool, playful banter about outfit choices, an admittedly fun car chase after an airplane. Even the title is rather forgettable for me, as I didn’t remember that this episode was about pilot and flight attendants. Yet, especially with this episode, the Sheri Elwood and writers on the show do adjust the format to serve the progression of the seasonal arc and the development of their characters. In “Stewardess Interruptus,” the crime reveals someone has come across an item that produces unexpected reactions in whoever holds it, perhaps something preternatural, and the case again has Lucifer (Tom Ellis) confront his flaws and where he wants to be in his relationship with Chloe (Lauren German).

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Lucifer wanted to earn a catch phrase. He got one in the worst way.

“What have I done?”

“Weaponizer.” Lucifer Season 2 Episode 5. Directed by Karen Gaviola. Written by Jason Ning

This review contains spoilers.

“Weaponizer” eschews the typical plot structure to other episodes of Lucifer, and to many other procedural shows, and to many other DC on TV shows. The seasonal arc is the focus to the last ten minutes, in which significant action happens, leaving on a cliffhanger in multiple ways that have the audience desiring more. On the one hand, I cannot judge this episode fairly until seeing what happens next week. On the other hand, the anticipation I have indicates that this was a well-done conclusion. Given how funny this episode is, the contrast in the humor and the drama heightens both, creating one of the best episodes so far this season.

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REVIEW: Lucifer Season 2, Episode 2, “Liar, Liar, Slutty Dress on Fire”

Dull Freudian jokes drag down Lucifer, saved by some decent gender subversions and a more engaging plot around Amenadiel.

There are a few arguments that may persist in my reviews:

First, the police procedural in Lucifer is a mandatory story structure whose quality varies by episode.

Second, I am really tired of the “naive innocent fanservice female character” trope.

Third, Amenadiel (DB Woodside) may be the through-line for this season, far more than Lucifer’s (Tom Ellis) relationship to his mother (Tricia Helfer), and which may attract more of my attention.

Let’s go through these three arguments as pertains to “Liar, Liar, Slutty Dress on Fire,” Lucifer‘s second episode for Season 2.

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REVIEW: Lucifer Season 2, Episode 1, “Everything’s Coming Up Lucifer”

 

Lucifer is back, with a lackluster procedural and a much more interesting start to this season’s arc, regarding his relationship with his mother, and problems for his brother.

It’s easy to write about the overarching plot to Lucifer because it has dynamic characters and largely realistic relationships between them.

It is more difficult to write about the procedural structure of Lucifer, because such structure is so prevalent in so many series that either it works or it doesn’t. The quality will vary episode by episode, and show by show. The procedural leaves a bad taste for many reviewers–especially after news that The Walking Dead, another television adaptation of a supernatural comic book, almost became a procedural. For me, it is less about whether it is good or bad; most of my reviews here tend to be analytical, about what works and doesn’t work, and considering paths not taken by the writers and other staff on a comic, TV show, and so on and whether such paths would have improved the story.

In other words, it’s a challenge for me to come down upon quality of one story when it is read in the context of so many other works, good and bad ones. Lucifer, for example, is going to suffer by comparison to series that benefit from the Netflix model of watching: the pace can slow down to develop characters. Tonight’s Season 2 premiere, “Everything’s Coming Up Lucifer,” not only has to go through a procedural crime investigation, one that had potential to be interesting but was largely dull, but to re-introduce the characters and their relationships to each other to the audience. A streaming series, in which all episodes are released at once online, tends to skip the reminders because they expect viewers remember what they watched just a few moments ago in the previous episode. Lucifer, broadcasted on Fox, even if it is watched by many viewers on demand, has to remind autumn viewers what they may have forgotten since Season 1 ended before summer.

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REVIEW: Lucifer, Season 1 Finale: “Take Me Back To Hell”

A slow pace and a lack of stakes compromise a season finale, but at least there is some much needed levity and an implication of more to come.  

This season finale reaffirms my interpretation that Lucifer is a parody of the crime procedural drama–intentionally or not. Everything has to be over-explained, with Lucifer (Tom Ellis) again drawing out confessions through his powers of persuasion so we have convenient monologues of characters talking about their motivations for the crimes they commit. And like a crime drama, a twist has to come exactly with 20 minutes left in the episode that involves a relative of the police detective being kidnapped.

Even Lucifer’s opponents seem self-aware that they are in a television show: instead of freezing time to plan their upcoming fight sequence in private with Amenadiel (D. B. Woodside), Lucifer is talking directly in front of the armed lackeys–and one of them waves at Lucifer, as if to say, “We doing this or what?”

Lucifer, therefore, is hilarious–but it also demonstrates how thin the show’s plot can be.

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REVIEW: Lucifer, Season 1, Episode 12, “#TeamLucifer”

Oh, goody, two of my least favorite narrative ploys: too many stories, and a timeskip.

Police procedurals, for better or worse, have been the strategy for adapting comics to television, to varying degrees of success. One reason is because of course superheroes solve crimes and perform citizens’ arrests of alleged criminals. In some cases, those superheroes are either part of law enforcement–Barry Allen on The Flash is a crime scene investigator–or the adaptation is about the law enforcement agencies assigned to deal with superpowered individuals, as with Agents of SHIELD.

But to paraphrase the recent film adaptation of Deadpool, the Devil is not a superhero. So thank goodness that having a television series like Lucifer focus on the archetypal villain or antihero largely avoids the doldrums of the police procedural.

Having not read the original Lucifer comics published by Vertigo, I entered the Fox television adaptation with apathy regarding its archetypal police procedural structure. Based on the few episodes I have watched, what entertains me about the show is not the case of the week, or even the plot of the titular fallen angel, so much as it is that the characters are interesting, and I want to see their stories.

Therefore, when a series then introduces a timeskip, even one that is only three weeks, to speed up the plot towards the season finale, I get annoyed.

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