This was published in 2016 shortly after the cop show Lucifer premiered. I didn’t like it, and I did a rant about it, and then still obsessed with it, I did this brainstorm revision to suit my taste in story, unaware that I’d just begun a new novel, The Devil in Nita Dodd. So this is here to show brainstorming for Nita, even though I didn’t realize I was brainstorming Nita:
I’ve been e-mailing with Krissie who keeps defending Lucifer, and I started to tell her how I’d do it, and I thought, “Wait. Blog post and then everybody can come in and tell me why I’m wrong.” So here’s me brainstorming my Lucifer:
Lucifer appears, fresh out of hell, in a nightclub that’s really rundown and doing no business and tells the owner that he’s new in town and he likes to hang out with sinners, so he’s going to be the owner’s new partner. And the owner–big guy, thug-like, maybe Vinnie Jones, we’ll call him Vinnie–has the bouncer give him the bum’s rush to the street, which Lucifer thinks is hysterical until there’s a drive-by and he and the bouncer go down in a hail of bullets. Lucifer gets up enraged and blows up the tires on the shooter’s car which makes it crash. He runs over, grabs the dying shooter by the throat, and says, “WTF?” and the shooter says, “Yeah, somebody paid me to shoot Vinnie” and then dies. Lucifer turns around and sees Vinnie standing behind him, looking a little pale and a lot angry because Lucifer’s suit is full of bullet holes but he’s clearly Not Dead Yet. Lucifer says, “We should talk. Who wants you dead? Because I’ll need to take care of that, damn it. And I’m on vacation.”
They go back in the club and Lucifer explains that he’s Satan, and he’s just taking a break, counting on God not noticing because He’s dealing with Syria and the Zika virus and Ted Cruz, and he really just wants to have fun–hasn’t had a vacation in millennia–and now thanks to Vinnie and whoever he’s annoyed, he’s going to have to go back to work and punish the bastard AND THAT MAKES HIM ANGRY. Maybe some red glowing eyes here. While Vinnie’s trying to process this–clearly the guy is nuts, but he’s full of bulletholes and he’s not dead and his eyes glow red and now Vinnie needs a drink–and then the cop comes in. I don’t care if the cop is male or female, but he or she asks the smart questions, finds out that Vinnie was the target, wants to know who wants Vinnie dead (Vinnie stonewalls) and would also like to know why Lucifer isn’t dead (“Just lucky.”). The cop leaves and Lucifer says, “Make a list,” and it’s the start of a beautiful relationship arc with Vinnie.
So now I have Lucifer, hoping God’s not going to notice he’s gone, and he’s left somebody in charge, his right hand woman down there, and she phones up every now and then to ask for advice. Somebody young and feisty with a tendency to over-react; he’s hoping she’ll take over for him permanently, so he’s mentoring her. Anna Faris? Miranda Hart? And God never shows up ever in the stories, He’s just a potential disaster, so as long as Miranda keeps a lid on Hell, Lucifer can stay up top and help Vinnie run his bar and have fun with the humans.
Which is another running subplot: Lucifer can’t just wave his hand and make the nightclub a success, he’s going to have to actually work for it, he and Vinnie are going to have to find out why the bar’s going down the tubes and work out a plan, and then he’s going to have to deal with people, doing his voodoo on an individual basis. He’s going to have to break a sweat. And while he’s doing that, Vinnie’s going to stop resenting him and start taking actual glee from the fact that he’s in partnership with the Devil, especially as the club does better. In fact, Vinnie might be getting too enthusiastic, so Lucifer is going to have to keep a lid on him, too, along with Miranda, who’s getting Big Ideas.
And of course, they’ll have to solve the murder which means the cop becomes the third part of the main cast. I’m tired of the tough but beautiful female cop, but I’ve got two male leads here, so maybe the cop is female, and I want her to be an out-of-fucks-to-give kind of broad, a Susan Sto-Helit except not the granddaughter of Death . . .
Amy Acker/Sarah Shahi/Paige Turco/Lucy Lawless Nicole Beharie* is the great-great-great (many more greats) granddaughter of Death, a closely kept family secret, which is why she’s a homicide cop. I could work with that. And she’s not impressed with Lucifer, even after he realizes there’s something supernatural about her, too, and tells her who he is. She says, “Don’t you have a somewhere else to be?” and he tells her he’s taking a vacation, and she looks up at the heavens, and he says, “We’re not mentioning this to Him,” and she says, “You know, I’ll stick around just to see the recall . . .” Anyway, no romance. But the Devil, Death’s granddaughter, and Vinnie the retired rugby player/lousy nightclub runner with lots of street smarts and a punishing left hook . . . yeah, I can work with that.
And then Rachael Harris as the therapist who will be the love interest. And Lucifer will drag her into the nightclub business, using her knowledge of human nature to create something irresistible to club-goers and by the end of the first season, the club’s such a success that other club owners are targeting Vinnie again, and they’ve solved so many crimes that the brass is starting to take a closer look at Nicole because it’s really uncanny how good she is at death and getting confessions, and Lucifer and Rachael are sleeping together in a completely weird but wonderful affair, and Lucifer’s never been happier, even if he has to deal with Miranda trying to franchise the Lake of Fire and Vinnie asking him to send the liquor supplier to hell and
Amy-Sarah-Paige-Lucy Nicole still rolling her eyes, unimpressed, and Rachael making non sequitur but entirely too accurate comments about his deepest torments. And maybe Miranda comes up for a meeting and meets Vinnie . . .
And then God notices.
Yeah, that’s how I’d write Lucifer.
*Duh. I kept thinking “not quite right” with that list of actresses and then I remembered The Queen of the Side-Eye. Of course if it’s Beharie, I kind of want Lucifer falling for her because she’d take him down. Hmmm. Maybe this isn’t Lucifer, maybe this is Nicole, and the protagonist is a homicide cop who’s the descendant of Death, and she’s managed to keep her secret and then Lucifer shows up . . .
I like that. A homicide cop who’s the direct descendant of Death. Oh wait, I have a better Devil:
Now, we’re cookin’.
Edited to add (5:30 PM):
You know, the key here is to keep pressure on the powerful hero because that kneecaps him, and to keep those pressures coming at him from different sides. For example, I’d have Miranda come up for a meeting and end up standing beside a dead body when the cops find her. Now Lucifer has to get her out of custody because nobody’s running Hell, but she has blood on her hands . . . wait, she really did kill the guy. So Nicole’s going to take Miranda in, which is going to cause problems because Miranda’s a demon and somebody going to notice her little habits, and Lucifer really has to get her back on the job in Hell, plus now she and Vinnie have a thing going on (maybe Vinnie decides to help and breaks her out of jail) so Miranda’s thinking about maybe leaving Hell for a nice job in a nightclub where nobody will notice she’s a demon . . .
This stuff writes itself. All you need is a hero beset on all sides and a supporting cast of characters that are liable to do anything at any minute that he has to control. But you’d still need an overall goal.
Maybe Lucifer didn’t come to earth just to have a good time, maybe there’s something he has to do that’s going to take him an entire season. No idea what that is, but that would pull the whole thing together. Plus that would keep him from just saying, “The hell with it” and going back to, uh, Hell when things got too dicey. Hmmmm. More thought needed.
Edited Jan. 28, 6:30: And I’d move it to New Orleans.
26 thoughts on “My Lucifer”
I haven’t watched Lucifer and I have no desire to do so, but this… This is perfect! I love it! I wish I could watch it – or read it.
Yup, my thoughts exactly! Can we all just hang around in Jenny’s brain for a couple of days? I want to see what happens next when she runs that world. It sounds a whole lot more fun than what TV did with it! And moving it to New Orleans sounds like a winner, too.
I only caught the last 35 minutes of the premier so the jury is out right now. But yours! YES! Please let Jenny be the writer!
you fixed an awful show in 10 minutes. really makes me miss your books! descendant of death is so brilliant!!
F*ck novels. Get your agent to talk to a tv agent and pitch the hell out of this. No really.
I’m a bit trite but I’d love a female Lucifier, because. S2 – S/he has to take another form for reasons and it is female. Story ensues.
Do this. I will watch it. I will recommend it. I will do all the things to support it. PLEASE.
I can’t write it.
I know nothing about being a homicide cop.
I know nothing about running a nightclub.
I know nothing about LA.
And I don’t think changing it to a high school teacher who types a lot and lives in New Jersey would have the same punch. Especially since I really don’t know much about living in New Jersey since where I live looks a lot like Ohio.
Otherwise I’d start writing it now. So much fun.
I am not at all sure why you think the people who write these things have any more knowledge of, frex, homicide or nightclubs. I think they just all live in LA and breathe some kind of TV shorthand for all that.
You know, that’s probably true, but readers tend to be a lot more demanding. Screw up in print, and you’ll get letters for years, even if you’ve done your homework.
I bet writing for TV there’ll be a team of junior worms who can research that stuff for you.
This was brilliant! I love your take on Lucifer and I only wish it could actually happen…sigh…I’m going to give the show a couple more tries — I’m just enough of a sucker for the bad boy hero trope that I want to like the show. (So far, the best thing about the tough but beautiful cop is her adorable daughter.)
Oh, yeah, much better. So maybe you can’t write it, but if Hollywood weren’t full of unimaginative tools (and some brilliant and funny writers), they would hire you as a story consultant to Fix This Thing (Long distance. Virtually. No move to CA required.) Maybe the readers of this blog should start a Twitter campaign to see that happen.
Trust me, nobody in LA wants to hear from an elderly romance writer in New Jersey. I’m not their demographic.
WOW. I totally need to read this story. Jenny, I’m sure the last thing you need is another project on your plate, but pleeeeeaaaassseeeee…. (add Kid whine here).
I’m begging you to write this.
Hmmmmmm. Jenny, you ignorant slut … Nope. That’s a different show. First off, why would Lucifer have to stir his stumps to find out who wanted to kill Vinnie? Why should he bother, why should he care? Lucifer doesn’t give a shit about anyone, he’s the son of Evil, a cousin to the Norse Loki and the Southwest kokopelli (aren’t they tricksters?) And I’m tired of the hero’s best friend trope. Then again, you write about community, I write about loners. The idea of a hero without a goal drives you crazy — I like that his only goal is to entertain himself.
Now if I were writing it, I’d definitely cast a different actress for the heroine, cut all that nekkid movie crap. Love her daughter, though, and Satan’s mixed distaste for her. They’ve already set up that he’s bothered by the fact that the female lead is immune to his wiles, enough so that he needs the great psychiatrist for therapy in return for mind-blowing sex, and I’d make that sort of thing continue. His unexpected affection for the first murder victim probably bothers him, and slowly, horribly, he’ll find himself starting to care about people, much as he hates it, because the power of human decency will destroy the evil that is the devil every time. I know, sappy, but in my fantasy world that’s true.
And it will be full of snark, he’ll be disgusted with himself by any signs of softening (which could be hysterically funny), and the more the heroine resists him the more frustrated he’ll get so he’ll finally want to have sex with someone rather than lazily giving in to the pleasure and the demands.
Now I haven’t figured out who the heroine should be, and we’re both agreed she needs help. Leave Nicole with Ichabod — they belong together.
As for me, I’m going to watch Kylo Ren and Rey and see if I can pick up on hidden, erotic signals (which would mean they can’t be siblings or cousins).
First, if you remember Luke and Leia from the first movie, hidden erotic signals are no guarantee they’re not siblings. If there was ever an example of “Plan Ahead . . .”
I love this because you’re writing an Anne Stuart and I’m writing a Jenny Crusie so of course we start with the same premise and go different ways.
HOWEVER . . .
He cares about who shot the pop star or the bouncer because it’s ingrained: He’s Satan and he has to punish. That’s all over this pilot and it’s the only thing that makes him anywhere close to vulnerable. I’m good with that as long as there’s another way to kneecap because otherwise you’ve got an omnipotent hero and who cares? If nothing can hurt him and he doesn’t care about anybody, why should I care about him? Pretty is not enough.
In a Stuart story, he’d become vulnerable because he’d fall in love with the therapist or the cop or whatever, and if there was a reason, I’d buy that, but so far there isn’t. He’s intrigued with the cop because he can’t voodoo her, but as Jeanne (I think it was Jeanne) pointed out somewhere, that “Wow, you’re different because I have no power over you” is a cliche at this point (Twilight, anyone). Plus for me, it’s meaningless because the woman isn’t making that happen. She has no idea, either. It’s a work-around for falling in love with her because she’s beautiful or because she’s the Chosen One or because she has small feet (if the shoe fits) . . . . I want an active heroine, somebody who knows he’s trying to voodoo her and beats him at his own game. I want Nicole in there (she’s never going anywhere with Ichabod and this is Nicole not Abbie) giving him the side eye and saying, “Go try that voodoo on somebody who cares.” And then there’s the fact that it’s conditional: once he figures out what’s going on, he’ll lose interest.
One of the reasons I’m so hipped on community is because community makes a character vulnerable. So yep I’d have a community attach to him–he wouldn’t go looking for one and he wouldn’t want one and he wouldn’t have had one in Hell (Miranda’s an underling), and that would complicate things immensely for him, especially if he’s driven to punish, the only thing besides the therapist I liked about the original premise. He’s not used to community, it would make him uncomfortable.
Which is really the bottom line for me. If he doesn’t care about anybody, if he’s not driven to do something, if he has no goal, then I don’t have a story. He’s just a jackass in a can. Sorry, wrong story. He’s just a devil in LA, and face it, he’s not going to stand out in a crowd there.
This really is the difference between your Anne Stuart story and my Jenny Crusie story. You want the omnipotent bastard who falls because he falls in love, and I want the guy (or girl) with the plan who has to cope with community while she’s getting where she needs to go.
Same premise, wildly different stories. (Strangely enough, I have a blog post started on that . . .)
Oh, and last time I checked, Lucifer was a fallen Angel, the Lord of Light, banished to hell because he led a rebellion against God.
He and his brother keep referring to God as “Dad,” but that might be a God-the-Father rif. Definitely not a cousin to Loki, the trickster. The closest he gets to that, I think, is in the New Testament where they call him the Adversary.
Once you get out of the Bible and Milton, though, in things like “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” he becomes a Trickster. But this iteration is clearly not. The ability to force people into telling their secret desires is not a trick or a con, it’s just a power. He’s not manipulating anybody, he just puts his voodoo on them and they barf truth.
What confuses me is, who’s his brother?
That sounds like a really interesting TV series
The really depressing thing about the TV series is that the ostensible source material (Mike Carey’s Lucifer comics which are a continuation of the Sandman version of Lucifer) is so damn good and so completely unrelated to the TV series. Admittedly it’d be a little hard to film the books on a live action tv budget (new universes get created and a number of mythical realms get visited and/or destroyed) but the stories themselves are amazing and so are the characters.
There’s a really good (if slightly spoilery) review of the first big arc here since I don’t think I properly can articulate how much I love this series:
Along with some more (spoilery) quotes here:
This exchange sums up Lucifer rather nicely:
Amenadiel: I am told that you will name your price.
Lucifer: That I may name my price or that I will name it?
Lucifer: You’d think part of being omniscient would be knowing when to stop.
Sounds like you’ve got a start on project #8. Love it
I like Jenny’s version. I agree it should get pitched to TV studios, could even be something like a Netflix original. There are so many networks and not enough good plots. Jane is right, there are people who can research what you need to know. Shows are written by a group so you just need to give the idea, add your snark to the dialogue (you like and are good at writing dialogue), and keep the other writers from messing it up.
I would totally watch Jenny’s Lucifer. Or, ya know, read the book.
I can’t say that I’m one of those people who easily forgives mistakes in books (I once nearly threw Outlander across the Calgary airport because there was a typo in one of the Gaelic words that rather changed the meaning of what Scottish Hero Dude was trying to say) but there is such a thing as too much detail. Nightclub: Booze, loud music, scantily clad, half deaf, hot young things dancing, hooking up, and, possibly, buying drugs in the bathroom. Homicide detective: dead body, autopsy, questioning suspects, Reese shooting people in the knee. Hell, if he can fake it, so can anyone.
I do find it hilarious that you went to Miranda Hart has his Hell underling seeing as they (Tom Ellis and Miranda) played friends/love interests on Miranda’s TV show. Which I’m sure you knew.
Otherwise, I love all your fixes so much more than the drivel that’s currently being served to us on that awful TV show, and that cupcake of a cop is so annoying. She’s not a great actress (see old episodes of Hawaii 5-0 for proof), and the whole thing about the movie she was in is so stupid. I honestly don’t know what to do with this show except lament the waste of good talent and a slightly interesting idea.
I did not know that. I saw Hart in Spy and loved her, which is why she came to mind.
ETA: I just looked up the show and it’s streaming on Acorn, so I will be watching. That may push me over the edge into writing Lucifer after all.
No, no it won’t, I’m working on You Again.
But tempting . . .
Well I’m sure a lot of us would be happy if you were tempted to the dark side…
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