There are great mysteries in life. Who was Jack the Ripper? Will we ever learn the truth about the Loch Ness Monster? Exactly how did they make Stonehenge? Why is Lucifer still going?
If you’re new to the show, Lucifer is the Devil, now the owner of an LA nightclub and consultant to the city’s police department, where he is in a relationship with detective Chloe Decker, whom he calls “Detective” most of the time even though it’s massively weird. In season five, Lucifer – ‘Lucy’ as some characters call him, unbearably – has to deal with his meddling archangel twin brother Michael; the failings of his visiting father (God); and a fight to become God himself.
In a just world, Lucifer would have ended long ago. Resuscitated by Netflix after Fox terminated it, the show is a bag of howlingly bad writing, ancient clichés, and poor acting. The structure of an episode tends to involve a direct link between the police investigation and the personal drama that Lucifer is dealing with. Rather than this being a subtle way of conveying that people have a great deal in common, without fail the investigation has been painstakingly engineered to contain as many crass parallels to the main plot as possible. The structure makes the show depressingly predictable, as do all of the other techniques stolen from any number of TV shows from the last 60 years.
One of the show’s problems is that whenever it tries to be funny, it’s not, and whenever it tries not to be funny, it is. Its main character is one of the most grating creations on TV, attempts to convince us that real people say things like “In a fit of candour, I told him the real truth as to why I was doing all of this,” and incessantly tries to add some Carry On… jinks to a show that wants to be a morality masterpiece but is about as meaningful as a flannel.
But it’s worth trying to work out why Lucifer has endured. First of all, it has a handsome leading man. That’s almost all there is to it. Tom Ellis looks good and drinks whiskey in a three-piece suit in every scene (except the ones where he opts for an open red silk dressing gown). Another reason is that the show boasts lines that people think are profound but are in fact recycled from fridge magnets. A perfect example? “You have to risk falling if you wanna fly.” Woah. That’s an Atomic Kitten lyric, isn’t it?
Another reason people watch is that the show has decided that it wants to be ‘fun’: viewers can giggle as the cast stages a full-on song-and-dance number in the middle of an episode for almost no reason. These most recent episodes are close to unbearable because of the threat that at any moment Ellis’ knee might start twitching and he could start banging out ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ again. In one scene, wearing the aforementioned silk number, he literally kicks the piano stool from behind him as the emotions get too much during his own rendition of ‘Wicked Game’. To be fair, this isn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen – because that comes later in the episode, when everyone sings ‘Every Breath You Take’ in the middle of a police interview.
In a golden age of television, this is a dark brown programme; one of the worst things on TV; a self-indulgent waste of money. And there’s one more season still to come!
‘Lucifer’ season five part two is streaming on Netflix now