THE DEVIL YOU SAY! Reviews and Comments

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Figure 1 – Lucifer with Tom Ellis

To the left is Tom Ellis, who plays Lucifer Morningstar in a show that’s been on for three years. The show’s main character was created by Neil Gaiman in the graphic series Sandman, although the show itself was created by Tom Kapinos, who’s been a writer and producer on such shows as Californification and Dawson’s Creek. Lucifer is, of course, the Devil of Christian mythology, who’s gotten bored with ruling Hell and has decided to take a vacation in—where else?—Los Angeles. (For those of you not familiar with California, the name “Los Angeles” is short for El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de Los Angeles—the city of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels (this is from memory, so if I got it wrong, forgive me for not looking it up). That name is in itself kind of a wry comment on the character of present-day L.A.; let alone having the Devil find it fun enough to vacation there!

I wasn’t previously familiar with the lead actor, Tom Ellis (a Welshman, by the way, who uses a British accent for the character). Ellis had appeared in a few movies (Buffalo Soldiers [2001], Miss Conception [2008] and a series called Miranda (2009-2015), none of which I’d seen. Likewise, his co-star, Lauren German, who plays Detective Chloe Decker, was unfamiliar to me. German had appeared on Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Hawaii Five-0, none of which I’d watched. The only stars of Season 3 I was familiar with before they appeared on this show were Tom Welling (Smallville) and Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica).

Figure 2 – Lauren German as Det. Chloe Decker

On this show, Lucifer himself enjoys few supernatural enhancements—he cuts off and burns his own wings (which, for various reasons, seem to come and go from season to season); he can make people tell him their deepest dreams and desires; and he has greater strength than humans as well as immunity to bullets, etc.—although this last is not absolute: when Det. Decker is nearby he is as vulnerable as any human. He also has a “devil face,” supposedly his real face, which he can use to frighten humans at will (it also comes and goes—this is attributed by Lucifer to God, or “Dad”). Chloe doesn’t believe he is the actual devil, although he has never hidden that from her—and she thinks it’s a metaphor he’s using.

Other main, continuing characters are D.B. Woodside as Amenadiel, a non-fallen angel (and his brother) sent to watch over Lucifer; Kevin Alejandro as Det. Dan Espinosa, Chloe’s ex-husband; Lesley-Ann Brandt as Mazikeen, a demon from Hell once employed by Lucifer as his chief torturer; Aimee Garcia as Ella Lopez, L.A.P.D.’s “CIS”; Rachael Harris as Linda Martin, psychiatrist to Lucifer and other “heavenly” bodies; also Tricia Helfer as Charlotte Richards, attorney and once host to Lucifer’s mother.

Figure 3 – Lucifer-Cast-Season-3

Figure 3 shows the central cast in Season 3. From left (character names): Linda, Amenadiel, Maze (Mazikeen), Charlotte, Lucifer, Chloe, Dan, and Lopez. There are spoilers to be had for this season, but I won’t tell them here, because the future of the show is in doubt. I’m hoping it will be either revived or picked up like other cancelled shows by another network. The season-ender for Season 3 resolved a couple of story threads, and ended with Chloe finding out (minor spoiler) that Lucifer had been telling her the absolute truth all along. After episode 24, the “season-ender” aired, the showrunners were notified that, due to low ratings, the show was being cancelled. Fans and cast members—notably Tom Ellis—were outraged, and Ellis posted on social media that they (the cast and crew) weren’t sitting still for this. “Talks to revive Lucifer are underway,” he posted.
Suddenly, on Monday, May 28 (the regular broadcast day), two “bonus” episodes were aired, supposedly in an attempt to show that the series still had “legs” in showbiz parlance—without advance notice. Oddly enough, though the episodes aired against Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final; the Season 4 premiere of The Bachelorette; The NBA Western Conference Finals; and the regular Monday lineup including Supergirl and James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction, the two shows did not make a strong showing audience-wise. One wonders why.

The reason (or reasons) I found the series worth watching were these: first, Ellis as Lucifer appeared to be a bit more complex than many TV characters; while being almost totally egotistic and self-focused, he seemed to grow and change as the series progressed. His fascination with Chloe Decker, coupled with his whinging about how “Dad” mistreated him, served to humanize what might have been an otherwise annoying character—and one thing you don’t want the Devil to be is annoying rather than frightening and powerful. (I serve notice here: I don’t believe in the Devil. Still, there are standards.) Also, German, while not a terribly compelling actress herself, is just unconventionally pretty enough to warrant a second look; and most of the secondary actors, like Brandt, Garcia, Helfer, and Alejandro, are well-enough acted and interesting enough to maintain my interest and, I suppose, other people’s as well.

So after building a pretty interesting story arc with Tom Welling as Lieutenant Marcus Pierce (who is actually the Biblical Cain), the season was ended with a strong cliffhanger, as stated above. Suddenly, the cast, crew, and audience were blindsided with a cancellation. The two “bonus” episodes (actually episodes already filmed for Season 4), which I see listed as “Series Finale” on one TV site, comprise Ep. 25, “Boo Normal,” about CIS-type techie Ella Lopez; and Ep. 26, “Once Upon a Time.” Ep. 25 tells us more about Ms. Lopez’s background, and introduces a new character—another one of Lucifer’s siblings, while Ep. 26 wonders whether Lucifer and Decker would have met if one little thing had been different when he first came to L.A. Interestingly enough, the final episode (so far) was narrated by Lucifer’s
“Dad,” otherwise known as God, who’s playing around with “what-ifs”—and the narrator is a well-known voice. (Okay, the voice isn’t that well known, but the name of the narrator is.

I sure hope this series continues; while not one of the best series on TV, it’s not as formulaic as much of what continues to be shown on American television.

Figure 4 – DC Modesty Blaise cover by Giordano

**LAST NOTES** One last shot at Modesty Blaise: in 1994, DC Comics did a graphic adaptation of the first book (Modesty Blaise, go figure!), basing it—unlike the movie of the same name—almost word for word on the book! The art, by Dick Giordano, was competent, if somewhat uninspired. Unlike the artist who took over the strip when Jim Holdaway died, Enric Badia Romero, Giordano could actually draw. Although Holdaway did a fairly stylized strip, it was clear and easy to follow. By contrast, I find Romero’s strips to be very badly drawn. I’m including a cover from the Titan compilation Number One by John M. Burns, who apparently has very little acquaintance with human anatomy, especially that of women. And so you’ll know exactly what I mean about Holdaway vs. Romero, here are two panels featuring the same characters by the two artists. Your opinion may vary from mine, so you can check them out here.

Figure 5 – Modesty & Willie by Holdaway (1968)
Figure 6 – Modesty & Willie by Romero (2000)

One reason I keep coming back to this is that I’m always finding out that people I know like Modesty Blaise. In fact, C.J. Cherryh, whom you may know as a terrific SF author, recently said she wished they’d make a proper MB movie!

 

 

 

Figure 7 – Titan Modesty Blaise Book 1 cover by John M. Burns

I appreciate comments on my column (and actively encourage them). Comment here, or on my Facebook page, or in the other Facebook groups I link to. Your comments, pro or con are welcome! My opinion is, as always, my own, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Amazing Stories or its owner, editor, publisher or other columnists. See you next week!

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