“Lucifer” has been to hell and back.
The cast and producers of the drama about the Prince of Darkness who gets bored in hell and winds up in Los Angeles as a nightclub owner and police crime consultant are rejoicing over its resurrection by Netflix, after a painful cancellation by Fox.
The fourth season of the series is now streaming, after fans across the globe staged an intense Twitter campaign protesting its ouster and pleading for a reprieve by another network.
The pickup is one of the first instances where Netflix, which specializes in original series and films, has picked up a show from a major U.S. broadcast network. (Next month it will stream the third season of “Designated Survivor,” canceled last year by ABC.)
“It feels amazing, actually,” said Tom Ellis, who stars as Lucifer Morningstar, on a soundstage at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, where the show is filmed. “It was rather an upsetting experience to be canceled. I was not ready for the show to be over.”
Although “Lucifer,” based on a DC Comics character, is no longer bound by broadcast standards and regulations, don’t expect the series to be more devilish in its storytelling. Except for a brief shot of Ellis’ nude rear end in the first episode, the tone and flavor of the series remain largely the same.
“It was important for us to remain true to the fans who saved us,” said executive producer Ildy Mondrovich. “We didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. We did feel we could go deeper into the mythology and also tell more personal stories. And Netflix encouraged us to have cliffhangers at the end of each episode and write to the serialized format a lot more. That was fun for us to do.”
The other major switch is a shorter season. The first three seasons of the show weighed in with more than 20 episodes apiece, which is typical for broadcast network series, while the Netflix version has only 10 episodes.
“We can be leaner and meaner — we can get right down to telling our story,” Ellis said.
That story reached a cliffhanger finale in the third season when Lucifer, whose usual form is a handsome playboy with a smooth English accent, changes physically into his demonic self, much to the horror of his partner — and potential love interest — detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German), the one person immune to Lucifer’s charms.
“We wrote that ending, because we just knew we were coming back,” said executive producer Joe Henderson. “When we were canceled, we were crushed, just total devastation.”
Fox executives first blamed the cancellation on ratings. But later, then-Fox Television Group Chief Executive Dana Walden said economics had also played a role.
Fans of the show were quick to register their anger on Twitter with the hashtags #SaveLucifer and #PickUpLucifer with millions of tweets and retweets.
Netflix is also streaming the first three seasons, and Ellis as Lucifer provides a brief recap at the beginning of the new season. The original cast has returned, and this season brings two new characters — Eve (Inbar Lavi), Lucifer’s first love from the Garden of Eden, and Father Kinley (Graham McTavish), who is plotting to return Lucifer to hell.
“What happened with the cancellation really energized us,” Ellis said. “I think it’s our best season yet.”
When/where: Now streaming on Netflix.