Friday, 20 February 2015

Fox order a LUCIFER pilot, changing it into ANOTHER cop show!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Did you read the comic-book LUCIFER? Beginning as a supporting character in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman, Lucifer headlined his own 75-issue spin-off comic. If you don't know, the character is literally The Devil, and the gist of his storyline had give up managing Hell to instead run a piano bar with a woman called Mazikeen (a Lilim night spirit) in his earthly "retirement". Lucifer eventually decided to create his own universe, to rival God's, and this crazy endeavour saw him clash with various entities. It sounds like an epic and ambitious idea for television, so it's surprising that Fox have decided to adapt Lucifer… but, uh, they have… only, well, in their TV pilot Lucifer will be helping the LAPD solve crimes and punishing criminals. Oh Lord.

Look, I know why this has happened. You can do something experimental and bonkers in the pages of a comic-book, but television has to appeal to the masses. It would be very hard to sell American audiences the undiluted idea behind Lucifer, but it's easier to sell them yet another 'cop show with a twist'.

But I'm so bored of them. So, so bored. Forever is another recent example of a good setup (an 'immortal doctor') stapled to a cop show formula. I sometimes wonder if U.S TV writers should just concentrate on strengthening their crime procedural muscles, exclusively, because that's all the networks really want. Or it's all they know how to market effectively. And for whatever reason it tends to work, because shows where 'quirky characters' investigate crimes never face huge backlashes. Instead, viewers are mostly appreciative, and occasionally a variation does manage to evolve into something that feels new (Dexter being a great example, as 'a serial killer solves crimes while secretly indulging his abhorrent lifestyle').

The procedural format is so elastic, it can accommodate a lot of weirdness around the edges, and it can be fun seeing strange characters as leading investigators. I'm catching up with Angel right now, and that's just another example really ('vampire solves crimes'.) It's been going on for decades, and will continue for decades to come. There's really no stopping it, because cops shows are just perfect for TV: there's structure, drama, mystery and solutions, all easily parcelled into weekly instalments.

I just wish networks would take more risks, and do something that's in-keeping with the source material they adapt. Lucifer isn't a cop show, so why make it into one? Couldn't they have made a 'Satan solves crimes' show of their own? There's really no name-recognition with the Lucifer comic-book "brand", after all. Is it really worth adapting Lucifer just because comic-book properties are HOT right now? If you avoid the source material's premise, opting for something more predictable and safe, aren't you just going to piss off the pre-existing fan-base? I doubt the Lucifer fans are going to be rejoicing at this news. But yeah, they'll watch it. Or hate-watch. And the non-fans will watch because it's a procedural, and they like procedurals. You know where you are with a good old-fashioned detective drama, even if the lead is the Prince of Darkness.

Did I mention Lucifer will be directed by Len Wiseman, who helmed the Sleepy Hollow pilot? At least that show swerved the 'man from the past helps solve crimes' angle it might have had, so is there hope the actual plans for Lucifer are more interesting than it seems on the surface? Tom Kapinos (Californication) is the man to ask, being the showrunner if this goes to series.