Lucifer’s best episodes were the truly goofy ones

Lucifer tackled many themed episodes in its six-season run, from the classic “What If?” alternate-universe episode to the jukebox musical. The creators chose to focus on the final season. LuciferNever been to animation before. “Yabba Dabba Do Me” takes Lucifer (Tom Ellis) and Chloe (Lauren German) into brand-new territory with close encounters of the 2-D kind, and it’s a great final reminder that LuciferIt was at its most fun when it allowed its silly side to shine through.

The series as a whole, inspired by Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics and Mike Carey’s spin-off Lucifer The series follows Lucifer Morningstar, who is a detective, who solves crimes and hangs with mortals before he finally becomes God. In season 6, however, Lucifer decides to be God before he can help someone he doesn’t like. He and Chloe, his partner in crime and love interest, go to hell to save Jimmy Barnes (John Pankow), season 1 villain.

Jimmy has been trapped in an animated version of Lucifer’s wedding that Lucifer broke up in series premiere, due to a celestial balance causing havoc in the universe. Many people who are in hell are forced to relive the moments of their lives that they regret and then tortured by guilt. But Jimmy’s hell loop is unusual, and Lucifer can’t seem to control it. The only way he and Chloe can help Jimmy and escape is to play by the rules of the loop’s cartoon universe.

Cartoon Chloe punches out a startled-looking giant cartoon demon in the Lucifer episode “Yabba Dabba Do Me”

Chloe gets violent in “Yabba Dabba Do Me”
Image courtesy of Netflix

The episode can be created by LuciferShowrunners Ildy and Joe Modrovich enlisted Joe Henderson’s assistance Harley Quinn producer Jennifer Coyle and the series’ animators. It was a classic result LuciferHijinks are sexual innuendos, ass-kicking and other mischiefs that take place in the Looney Tunes Saturday morning cartoon. The animated episode is a fun way to bring a little more humor to an already campy show. LuciferIt does what it excels at: Combine the fun with endearing humor with emotional gut-punch.

The episode leans into animation humor, like when Lucifer realizes he’s a “smoothie” with no genitals, and can’t swear in this made-for-kids world. “I just love the idea of him having to be out of control in a world where he’s normally so much in control,” co-showrunner Henderson told Thrillist about the bit. “He is the King of Hell. And yet here, he’s lost his twig and berries.” But “Yabba Dabba Do Me” is more than just the visual gags.

To make clever gimmicks, you need a few key ingredients Lucifer’s theme episodes work. First, a reasonable trigger for the episode’s existence. In season 5’s noir-themed flashback episode “It Never Ends Well for the Chicken,” the noir mystery is a story Lucifer is telling Trixie (Scarlett Estevez) about his past. In the musical episode “Bloody Celestial Karaoke Jam,” God himself makes the world use song to process emotions. In “Yabba Dabba Do Me,” it’s Jimmy’s emotional connection to cartoons and Lucifer’s loss of control in Hell.

Second, to really make an effective episode, the gimmick needs to be seen through to the fullest, most absurd extent, like when Lucifer and God sing a duet of “I Dreamed A Dream” from Les MisérablesThe musical episode. In “Yabba Dabba Do Me,” that means taking advantage of all the visual gags cartoons have to offer, including Lucifer being flattened into an accordion, and Chloe punching a giant devil so hard, he goes flying through the roof. It’s a fun gimmick that plays so specifically to Lucifer’s strengths — namely, Lucifer’s over-the-top cockiness — that seeing Chloe and Lucifer as cartoons feels inevitable, almost as if they’d been cartoon characters in the real world this whole time.

Tom Ellis as Lucifer and Lesley-Ann Brandt as Maze go black-and-white and ’40s fancy in the noir Lucifer episode “It Never Ends Well for the Chicken”

Lucifer and Maze get fancy in “It Never Ends Well for the Chicken”
Image courtesy of Netflix

LuciferIt is best at its most fun when it is full of humor, as Lucifer, at his core is an extremely goofy character. He’s the devil, but he chooses to run a nightclub in Los Angeles and moonlight as a consultant to the LAPD Fun for everyoneHe lives his life as if he were Hugh Hefner. It’s truly ridiculous. And just as he’s at his most lovable when he embraces that fact, LuciferThe series’ absurdity is what makes it most heartwarming and entertaining. More importantly, when the showrunners get silly, they embrace the series’ ridiculous potential fully and unapologetically.

That commitment to antic adventure isn’t limited to the gimmick episodes. Take Dan Espinoza (Kevin Alejandro), Chloe’s ex-husband, who started out the series as a dirty cop, and a potential romantic rival for Lucifer. By the end of season 4, he’s a fully comedic character, the show’s lovable idiot. He’s also the emotional center of the final season. By letting the character be unapologetically ludicrous, the showrunners turned Dan into a fan favorite — which in turn makes the end of his storyline in season 5 even more devastating.

By contrast, LuciferWhen it becomes too serious, drama is its lowest point. Like in season 5B, when Chloe went from an independent single mother to a woman so in love with the devil she would quit her job without a second thought and commit to being God’s human “partner.” The entire storyline was a head-scratcher, and it felt forced in part because there was no joy in it. This storyline was just too earnest and totally lacking in humor. It reduced Chloe into a one-dimensional character.

Kevin Alejandro as Dan dances with two women in a “Bloody Celestial Karaoke Jam”

Image courtesy of Netflix

It’s not unusual to see a series of pathetic supernatural dramas on TV, but Lucifer stands out when the creators don’t take the tone too seriously. Even in today’s golden age of TV, it is difficult to find shows that are both entertaining and don’t dwell too much on everyday sadness. Lucifer’s silliness makes it a refuge from the darkness of most prestige television. It’s a murder show that isn’t dark and moody, and a fantasy series that isn’t full of beheadings and episodes so dimly lit, you can’t make out friend from foe. As “Yabba Dabba Do Me” shows, when the creators acknowledge that dynamic, and keep LuciferThis is a self-aware system that’s balanced and tolerant of laughter. It truly shines.

Lucifer is now available on Netflix. You can purchase some episodes on digital streaming sites. This is the pilot episode. Amazon Prime Video streaming available for free

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