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Left to right, Pauline Quirke as Paula Winton, Mathew Baynton as Jamie Winton, and Rob Lowe as Father Jude Sutton in “You, Me and the Apocalypse.” Photo by Guy Levy/WTTV Productions Limited, courtesy of NBC Universal

Left to right, Pauline Quirke as Paula Winton, Mathew Baynton as Jamie Winton, and Rob Lowe as Father Jude Sutton in “You, Me and the Apocalypse.” Photo by Guy Levy/WTTV Productions Limited, courtesy of NBC Universal

By BRANDON AMBROSINO

© 2016 Religion News Service

Faithful Viewer” is an occasional feature where RNS reporters plumb religion and spirituality  — in film, television, books, music and other forms of popular culture.

Here’s your guide to three hot January shows:

You, Me and the Apocalypse 

The premise in about 100 words:

The world is coming to an end in 34 days, thanks to an 8-mile comet hurtling toward Earth. Life as we know it is counting down to extinction, save a hodgepodge of unlikely individuals trapped safely in a bunker miles beneath the Earth’s surface. That group includes Jamie (Mathew Baynton), a cute but unassuming banker with a twin brother who runs a cyber terrorist organization; Sister Celine (Gaia Scodellaro), a sweet nun who recently took a post under Father Jude Sutton (Rob Lowe) in the Devil’s Advocate office; and Rhonda McNeil (Jenna Fisher), a librarian who took the rap for her son’s hacking of the National Security Agency. Premieres Jan. 28 on NBC.

Religious themes:

Um … the apocalypse! And with it, all of the philosophical questions The End forces us to confront: What is the meaning of life? Is there life after death? Is God watching? Beyond that, though, the show’s most significant religious explorations come from Sister Celine and Father Jude, who are tasked with investigating the biblical prophecies surrounding the end times, including the identities of false messiahs and perhaps an antichrist. Father Jude is an unlikely priest — he drinks and swears and seems to want to have a lot of sex before the world ends — but he seems to have genuine faith somewhere under all that smarm.

How many episodes until it gets good?

Are you kidding? It was good from the trailer!

Worth your time?

Absolutely! This is one of the best new series on television.

Mercy Street

The premise in about 100 words:

Two nurses care for wounded soldiers in Mansion House, a luxury hotel in Alexandria, Va., that has been turned into a hospital at the start of the Civil War. Mary (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a New England abolitionist, and Emma (Hannah James), the daughter of the Confederate hotel owner, butt heads as they try to balance their medical duties with their dueling allegiances. Both women are further troubled as they try to make their way through a man’s world, headed by Dr. Byron Hale (Broadway’s Norbert Leo Butz). A moving subplot features Samuel Diggs (McKinley Belcher), a free black man who knows medicine but needs to keep that secret. Premiered Jan. 17 on PBS.

Religious themes:

The key to the show is found in the title: mercy. As one character explains in the first episode, all who arrive at Mansion House receive treatment. No questions asked. The location of Mansion House, in a Union-occupied Southern town, only highlights, if at times strains, the grace the characters offer and experience. Given that this is a Civil War-period drama, biblical allusions and religious sensibilities are often on display. One of the more interesting characters is Chaplain Hopkins (Luke Macfarlane), who, in spite of the mysteries he hides, reminds workers and patients that God does not see uniforms.

How many episodes until it gets good?

Some might be hooked from go, but give it until halfway through the second episode to grip you.

Worth your time?

Masterpiece shows are usually good bets in terms of compelling, high-quality programming. “Mercy Street” will certainly meet your expectations for war dramas, and if you’re a “Downton Abbey” fan, you may have just found your new replacement show.

Lucifer

The premise in about 100 words:

In the beginning … the angel Lucifer was cast out of heaven and condemned to rule hell for all eternity. Until he decided to take a vacation .… “ Thus begins every episode of “Lucifer,” a series loosely based on a character created by Neil Gaiman and later developed by Mike Carey for comic book publisher DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), the charming antihero, bored with hell, abdicates his throne and flees to Los Angeles, where he opens an upscale nightclub, Lux. Through a series of unhappy events, he’s introduced to detective Chloe Dancer (Lauren German), and ends up serving as her crime-fighting sidekick. Premieres Jan 25 on Fox-TV.

Religious themes:

Like the comic book it’s based on, this series invites viewers to reconsider the character of the devil. In Christian theology, proud Lucifer falls from his angelic post in heaven, and is cast down to hell to torment all the souls who are condemned to his eternity. In the mythology of the series, however, Lucifer is far less the stock Lord of Hell, and far more your charming high school friend who knows how to read your mind and convince you to give into your wickedest impulses. “I have the ability to draw out people’s secret desires,” he says at one point.

Ellis’ Lucifer provides a lot of theological food for thought. “The devil isn’t that interested in your soul,” he says, and, “God has nothing to do with your mess.” At other times, Lucifer sounds like a cheerleader, encouraging one woman to stop wasting her life. Other theological mysteries posed by the show — accusations Lucifer is becoming soft: “Humans are rubbing off on you,” says one character. “Stop caring. You’re the devil.”

How many episodes until it gets good?

That depends on what you mean by “good.” It’s certainly a fun, campy show with a devilishly handsome leading man. But if you’re waiting for the show to delve headlong into the head-splitting philosophy of the comic … you might be waiting, well, an eternity.

Worth your time?

Why not? The series may not have the brilliance of the comic book, but it is highly entertaining. And it’s always good to be reminded that our interpretations of biblical characters can stand some reimagining.

(Brandon Ambrosino is an RNS correspondent)