New American programme Empire premiered on E4 on Tuesday and despite using a tried and tested formula, there’s something about this particular show that catches your attention.
Created by Lee Daniels (The Butler, Precious) and Danny Strong with an excellent musical score written by Timbaland and starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson this hard-hitting show was off to a flying start, setting viewers up to ensure they would be tuning in week after week.
With a plausible storyline that just from the pilot you can see will weave a long and complicated web of drama, Empire is the post watershed soap opera evening television needs.
A combination of flashbacks and giving each character their moment was enough to provide a back story in just one hour.
Howard plays Lucious Lyons, a gangster turned music mogul who has a terminal illness. He wants to train one of his very different three sons to take over the business when he’s gone but that situation alone is complicated further when Lucious’s ex wife Cookie (Taraji P.Henson) turns up straight from prison looking for her share of the company she helped set up.
Looking for an heir to his empire won’t be easy as from the very beginning there is a conflict of interests. Lucious’s eldest son Andre (Trai Byers) has all of the perfect credentials on paper and the right experience as he helped his father build the company but he doesn’t have a musical background which is something Lucious believes is pivotal.
Middle child Jamal (Jussie Smollet) is a singer but also gay- something that Lucious isn’t comfortable with and believes has no place in the music industry.
Finally there is Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) who is also very musical and most like his father but his attitude will take him down the wrong path.
Despite the two younger siblings agreeing that nothing will ever come between them, by the end of the first episode the Shakespeare-like plotting and division amongst the Empire is gaping wide open.