Fox has taken "Lucifer," one of the most intellectually complicated and morally challenging properties in the DC Comics library, and made a TV show. Naturally, Fox turned it into a police procedural.
The time-honored genre works well on television, with a crime of the week to give the audience a satisfying resolution each episode, while leaving room for overarching themes and character development. Plus, as a bonus, some of the intellectual rigor of the original "Lucifer" concept remains in the series, which can service some of those overarching themes.
And what are those? So glad you asked.
The legendary Neil Gaiman became legendary because of his magnum opus, the "Sandman" series for DC's mature-readers line, Vertigo. "Sandman" was an ambitious series focusing on Morpheus, also called Dream, an anthropomorphic representation of dreaming, along with his six siblings: Death, Delirium/Delight, Desire, Despair, Destiny and Destruction. Together they were the Endless, the foundation of a vast cosmological tapestry that Gaiman wove, which included parts (or wholes) of various mythologies, religions and belief systems.
The Christian heaven and hell were part of this tapestry, and in "Sandman" No. 23 (1991) the lord of dreams goes to hell, where he expects to fight Lucifer in order to free a former lover. Lucifer is pretty much what we expect, because he's based on the Bible. (He is also drawn to look a bit like David Bowie.)
To Sandman's surprise, Lucifer doesn't want to fight. Instead, he quits. He literally resigns as lord of hell and gives the dream lord the key. Which is a pretty wild concept because, you know, what about all those unsupervised demons on the loose? Lucifer says that's not his problem. Lucifer's quitting his job is more than just creation's proudest angel once again refusing to do what he's told.
Instead, he brings up the two words that religious scholars have been arguing about since there were religious scholars: free will.
"You know," he tells Morpheus about his rebellion, "I still wonder how much of it was planned. How much of it [God] knew in advance. I thought I was rebelling. I thought I was defying his rule. No, I was merely fulfilling another tiny segment of his great and powerful plan."
Yep, here's the devil discussing predestination. In his mind, he isn't bad — rather, God made him bad. So Lucifer quits his biblically assigned role. He eventually ends up running a nightclub in Los Angeles, during a 75-issue run of his own title, where he has all sorts of adventures while the predestination vs. free will argument hangs over the proceedings.
Sounds like the makings of good cop show, doesn't it? No, of course it doesn't.
But that's how Fox is going to play it, with Beelzebub helping out a policewoman who, for as yet undisclosed reasons, is immune to his charms. He finds that fascinating — and challenging — while she gets to put a few bad guys away.
We're probably lucky Fox didn't call the show "Devil Detective."