Some of you may remember the absolute fit I threw over Lucifer when it premiered last year. Hated it. Hated it, hated it, HATED IT. I was insulted by the lousy writing and the tragic waste of a solid cast. So I stopped watching because after a while, you’re not a critic anymore, you’re just a bitch. Then I read on the AV Club that it was actually good this year, so I went back to try a couple of episodes from Season Two.
It’s actually good this year.
Keep in mind, it’s not great. We’re not in Person of Interest territory here. But it’s settling into itself and it’s using its female cast really well, which is so nice for a change. And Tom Ellis as Lucifer has dialed back on the smarm (or maybe the writers woke up) so while he’s still nuts, he’s smarter nuts and now he’s fun to watch. Dr. Linda is no longer sleeping with Lucifer, which is a good thing because she was smarter than that. Maze is no longer whining about going back to Hell, which is a good thing because she was tougher than that. Amandiel has developed layers and Detective Dan has been released from petulancy and given a personality, which is good because I really like that actor and I hated seeing him stuck with the same whine. Actually, nobody’s whining this year. They’re all mad about something but they’re not whining. And there are two new characters, both of whom are female, so that whole woman-as-sex-object bit has slunk off into the shadows. There’s a perky new ME because every case-of-the-week needs a Manic Pixie Coroner, and then there’s Mom, whose mythological basis I have not quite glommed–she’s God’s wife, she gave birth to a lot of kids, I dunno, whatever–but she escaped from Hell–how? no idea–and ended up in the body of a murder victim who looked like Tricia Helfer, so good taste there, plus the chance to see Tricia Helfer pull a screwdriver out of the back of her neck. I don’t trust any character played by Helfer because I’m a Burn Notice fan, and the lovely sublte ambiguity with which she’s playing this character just reinforces that, but mostly I’m just enjoying the hell out of her portrayal of a goddess stuck in the body of a married lawyer with bratty children.
Which brings me to next change: The show is actually amusing. I wouldn’t call it funny, I haven’t laughed yet, but there’s a lightness to it that helps it glide over the absurdity of its premise and plots. It’s fun to watch now because, although there are still those ridiculous case-of-the-week plots to contend with, it’s really about family: families breaking up, families negotiating relationships, family bonding together (see Mom and her boys in the picture above). Chloe and Dan are getting a divorce but they’re being careful around Trixie and treating each other with respect, which is nice because that kind of thing is usually low-hanging dramatic fruit for TV shows. Lucifer and Amenadiel are negotiating the shift in their sibling rivalry now that they’re both on Earth. And they’re both dealing with Mom, who insists she just wants to be with her sons. The end of “The Weaponizer,” Episode Five, brings that all together in a genuinely harrowing climax that makes me think there’s good stuff ahead here.
I wasn’t wrong about Season One; it’s bad. (In the comments on one of the online reviews I read, somebody said, “So I should go back and watch Season One?” and there was a chorus of “No, don’t do that . . .”) But this season has great potential. You should watch.
And while you’re at it, if you tried to watch the abysmal Legends of Tomorrow last year and couldn’t hack it (that would be me), that’s another show that’s having a sophomore surge. There’ve only been two episodes so far, but they’ve been manic as hell and a lot of fun, including Victor Garber singing “Edelweiss” to Nazis in WW2 Germany, several years before it would be written, and Dominic Purcell in a puffy shirt in Marie Antoinette’s France. I’m not happy they killed off Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold, but it’s the Arrowverse where death is more of an inconvenience than anything else, so he’s going to be showing up on all the DC shows this year, spreading the wealth, so to speak. Mostly I’m cautiously optimistic because, based on the first two episodes, the writers have evidently decided that if they’re stuck with the dumbest premise in the history of TV SF (and I’m including Alf in that), they might as well run with it, and the absurdity of it all is really fun. (Bring back Cold.)
All of which is to say, I’m watching TV again even though I’d pretty much given up after they cancelled PoI, Agent Carter, Limitless, and Galavant, and delayed iZombie into 2017. Fortunately, I’m not watching a lot of TV because I have much work to do, but still it’s nice to have weekly stories (even nicer to binge watch, but you can’t have everything).
And I really would have hated missing Dominic Purcell in a puffy shirt.