Television Review Two-Fer: Lucifer and 11/22/63.

Part 1: NBC’s Lucifer

I’m not going to lie. I had reservations going in to this adaptation of Lucifer. My brother had purchased the entire Vertigo comics Mike Carey run when we had made a biweekly habit of hitting up our local comic shop and then hitting up the Thai restaurant nearby. For a spin-off of the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman it was a great read. So when I heard it was being adapted into a police procedural I cringed. I withheld judgment, however, as I have enjoyed several police procedural shows before. “This could work,” I told myself. “It’s not outside the realm of possibilities.”

I was wrong. I made it through the first episode without developing any strong feelings one way or the other. Tom Ellis didn’t do a terrible job the first episode. It showed potential. There were plot threads that were hinted at. It was enough to get me to watch the second episode. This was a terrible mistake on my part.

By the end of the second episode I was done with the series. Tom Ellis’s portrayal of Lucifer started to feel more smarmy British used car salesman and less Fallen Angel. The interpersonal drama between Lucifer and the female police officer, Lucifer and his angel brother, Lucifer and his demon bartender assistant Mazikeen, it all just felt so…dull. This is the body of a great show being pulled by marionette’s strings in a lifeless dance.

Ellis either lacks the charisma to play Lucifer or the director stunted the performance. The rest of the cast just seems to be along for the ride. There’s no stand out in personality among any of the performances. The hinted at threads of subplots just don’t offer enough pull to continue on with the mummer’s show of a comic book adaptation. If you were on the fence with this one, you’re safe in passing it by.


Part 2: Hulu’s 11/22/63

So I’ve seen Stephen King’s 11/22/63 at my local bookstores on several occasions, and each time, despite being intrigued by the blurb and premise, I left it sitting on the store shelf rather than taking it home. The Hulu miniseries was a low cost point for me to enter into the narrative. It made me immediately regret my recalcitrance in purchasing the novel.

I’ve found James Franco to be somewhat hit or miss in his performances, but he is immediately likeable as Jake, the lead role for the series. The supporting cast all has immediate presence. The narrative and its various subplots are gripping. I watched the first two episodes back to back in one sitting. The end of the second episode left me eagerly awaiting episode three.

In some respect, I may be lucky that I haven’t read the book. I don’t know where the story is going and get to be eagerly surprised with each new turn. I do know for certain that I’m probably not going to be able to continue a week in between installments, and will probably be picking up King’s novel as soon as I finish the current novel I’m reading. Seriously, give this miniseries a shot.

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