Tom Ellis devilishly plays Lucifer.

The good people at Netflix have found a way of getting the devil to work miracles for them by turning "Lucifer" into a smash hit, writes streaming columnist NICK OVERALL.

IF there’s one surefire sign of the influence of Netflix, being able to revive the Prince of Darkness might be it.

Nick Overall.

“Lucifer” is the slick, darkly comic series which sees Satan himself move to LA to open a nightclub after growing tired of dwelling in hell, and its new string of episodes has been going gangbusters on Netflix.

But it wasn’t always the hit it’s now become. 

It originally aired on Fox in 2016, and despite the wicked premise conjured up by Neil Gaiman, the best-selling author of “American Gods”, the show was cancelled by the end of its third season, cast out of production due to poor viewership.

However, thanks to a following of fans rallying to revive it, #SaveLucifer became a number one trending topic. A hashtag that would have undoubtedly raised some eyebrows, fan of the show or not.

Although the effort didn’t work, a second attempt under the title #PickUpLucifer also went viral and Netflix slyly spotting the potential stepped in to take creative control of the series.

Now produced by and running on the streaming platform, “Lucifer” has seen huge success, especially with the newest season being one of the most watched shows in June.

So if the shows failed to keep pace on commercial television, why has the opposite effect occurred on a streaming platform?

Because commercial television relies so heavily on ad breaks, the more episodes per season a network can include the more money there is to be made.

That’s why so many shows of the 2000’s era aimed for 20 or more episodes a season. It’s also why so many featured a new premise with each new episode, rather than the more singular, overarching plots seen now.

As streaming platforms aren’t bound by ad-break quotas, the length of modern television story telling has been chopped in half, with seasons sitting more around the 10, rather than 20-episode mark.

Compared to its early seasons of around 18 episodes each, the revived, fourth Netflix season of “Lucifer” was only 10 episodes and able to move its plot along at a breakneck pace.

That concentrated storytelling was infinitely more suited to its style and concept than its lengthy, earlier seasons which dragged along. The added pace gave it the leg-up to become the popular beast it is today.

Its fifth season technically has 16 episodes, but even then they’ve been split into two sets of eight episodes released a year apart.

But it's not the only hit show that plays with angels and demons for its premise.

Amazon Prime’s “Good Omens” has had a warm reception from critics and fans alike, and all signs point towards a second season gearing up. 

It’s based on the hilarious book by the late Terry Pratchett, about the finicky angel Aziraphale and hedonistic demon Crowley teaming up to track down the antichrist and thwart a looming armageddon.

In the show the duo are played by Michael Sheen and David Tennant respectively, whose waggish charisma bounces off one another in a way that makes the show an effortless watch. 

Interestingly, “Good Omens” also has Neil Gaiman’s hand in it, who contributed to the novel now published more than 30 years ago and who was pivotal in getting the modern television adaptation up and running. 

He’s become known as a master of bringing mythological characters to a modern audience, and the concurrent success of “Good Omens” and “Lucifer” together certainly prove that to be the case.

Lucky indeed he and the team behind “Lucifer” are that Netflix had, as perhaps best put by Mick Jagger once upon a time, some sympathy for the devil.


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