Public Service Announcement 29 of 2019: Cardinal, The Society, Lucifer

Intriguing Canadian police drama Cardinal is back for its third season this weekend. If the first two seasons are anything to go by it’ll be a taut and nasty thriller, conspicuously well acted by the leads, Billy Campbell as Cardinal and Karine Vanasse as Delorme. I am also shipping them, although given that Cardinal’s wife REDACTED herself – or did she? – at the end of season 2 I have already braced myself for this as a likely example of TV’s latest unwelcome trend, a STUPID DEAD WIFE who gets in the way of a PERFECTLY GOOD SHIP (Saturday, BBC 4, 9pm, double-bills).

Netflix’s latest pitch for the YA market, The Society, drops today. It’s exec produced by Christopher Keyser (Party of Five) and Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer, a couple of Spider-Men, Limitless), who also directs the first two episodes. It’s about a group of teenagers who are transported to a facsimile of their hometown, sans adults, and if it’s even halfway decent – and perhaps not even that – it looks as if it might have “cult” written all over it.

And Netflix also has, as of now, the fourth season of Lucifer, which it picked up after Fox cancelled it. I’m still watching season 3 week-by-week, and I’m doing my best to keep myself from being spoiled, so I have no idea where s4 might go. However, from what I’ve seen so far of the third season the quality remains high, so once I’ve finished that I will be very much HERE for more #Deckerstar.

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Public Service Announcement 24 of 2019: Lucifer, 9-1-1, Jane the Virgin

Although season 3 of Lucifer has been available for some time now on Amazon Prime, its first run on UK broadcast TV starts tonight. If Lucifer were just a procedural with a high concept – the Devil himself comes back to Earth in corporeal form, falls in with a female detective, and solves crimes – that in itself would be more than enough. But here’s the thing: it’s actually a properly good show, and capable on its day – of which there are quite a few – of being outstanding. And it has one of the best ships on TV. Lucifer was cancelled at the end of this season but rescued by Netflix, which will be showing the fourth season shortly (tonight, Fox (UK), 9pm).

And more good news: first-responder sirens-and-shipping drama 9-1-1 is returning from its season 2 hiatus, with renewal for a third year already in the bag. Reviewing the last episode I called the show “generally excellent”, and “largely a show about decent people doing their best. In these cynical times, we need a bit of that”, all of which I stand by (Tuesday 9 April, Sky Witness, 10pm).

Finally, it would be remiss of me not to note that the final season of Jane the Virgin is now available week-by-week on Netflix in the UK. I’m a couple of years behind, I’m afraid, but hanging in there, because this is one of those shows which uses humour and a light touch while grappling with some heavyweight themes. One of the best things on TV.

Public Service Announcement 18 of 2018: Lucifer

Once the Catholic in me had come to terms with watching a procedural drama called Lucifer, in which the Prince of Darkness himself is the sort-of-hero, I enjoyed it: actually, I thought it improved as the first season went on, with one or two episodes which were really very good indeed. So I’m delighted that the second season – which has been available in the UK on Amazon – is now making its way to broadcast TV, even if that pleasure is tempered by the recent announcement that the show has been cancelled after its third year. Won’t stop me watching, though. And shipping (tonight, 9pm, FOX UK).

Lucifer s1 ep 3

First things first. We have to deal with the hornèd, cloven-footed elephant in the room, and it’s that this cradle Catholic has a qualm or two about saying anything approving with reference to a show which (a) is named Lucifer and (b) features Lucifer as a appealing and good-looking bad boy. So every time I text CJ to say something like “I really like Lucifer”, or “Thursday night is Lucifer night”, or “YOU TOTALLY NEED TO GET LUCIFER INTO YOUR LIFE!!!!!111!”, there’s a hard-wired part of me seeking absolution. And so – even though if there is a God, He knows, by definition, that it’s an American network procedural I’m talking about – I want to make it clear to Him that this is all about Lucifer-the-show, not Lucifer-the-Prince-of-Darkness.

Anyway. How does Lucifer stack up so far? Pretty… well, I guess? The ludicrous premise is that Lucifer Morningstar (a camply charming Tom Ellis) has got bored of the underworld – although there have been a few allusions to some sort of political dispute in Hell, in which I am not very interested – and has instead, as one does, pitched up in Los Angeles, where he owns a nightclub. In the first episode a pop star of Lucifer’s acquaintance is murdered. The investigation is helmed by the razor-sharp-cheekboned Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German, late of H50), single mom and ex-actor, and Lucifer – obviously – muscles into the investigation, helping to to solve the crime because he thinks that people who have done bad things should be punished for them, while he and Chloe bicker. This pattern is followed in episodes 2 (film star’s son killed) and 3 (American footballer’s hookup killed).

I suppose you could argue that this third episode showed some signs of Luciferian personal development, because he feels responsible for the footballer being arrested, but that apart the plotting is from the procedural playbook: with the tried-and-tested combination of smart, snarky female cop and wisecracking male freelancer with Special Powers, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. It’s Castle without the writer, or The Mentalist with the devil; The Satanist, if you will. It isn’t even as if Lucifer is hiding his true identity: there’s the name, the black car, the dark clothing, and his free admission that he can persuade people to reveal their darkest desires because he’s, well, Lucifer, safe in the knowledge that no-one will believe him anyway.

It’s all pretty good fun, with the very evident potential to become better, and there isn’t really much more that I want from a procedural. (I also approve of Linda, the nerdy-hot psychiatrist who is Lucifer’s confidant and occasional sexytimes partner.) As well as a readymade ship – and, yes, I am shipping them – the Lucifer/Chloe dynamic benefits from her inscrutability: Lucifer’s powers don’t work on her, and he wants to know why. And there’s the occasional hint of out-and-out nastiness rounding things off: every now and again Lucifer manifests himself as a demon rather than an English-accented smoothie, which of course terrorises those who see it. The end of the second episode, where Chloe visits the baddie from the first episode, now hospitalised because he’s maintaining that the man who caught him is the Devil, was proper shivers-down-the-spine stuff: he’s in a state of terror, but is assumed to be delusional. Oh no he isn’t.

So. No weekly reviews, because it’s total nonsense, but yes: I’m into Lucifer. The show. THE SHOW.